Sunday, September 02, 2007

Petition For an Absolute Retreat

Hours ago explosions rocked the streets of Kathmandu, with rumours circulating to the effect of three bombs that have killed several people. There are no details that I can find on the Internet as of yet, but I did spend hours in traffic today in wonder at the amount of military and police presence.

As my friend Bishwar said, "Why can't people just come together and work for peace and prosperity?"

So perhaps this is a good time to retreat from the chaos of the city into the quiet and comfort of rural Nepal, where horns and engines give way to bird song, and smog and concrete yield to rice fields and distant snow-covered mountains.

I am leaving tomorrow for Matathirta, a small village only about 10 kilometers outside of urban Kathmandu, but seemingly a world away. The village is famous for a temple dedicated to mothers, which I will visit to light a candle in memory of my own mother, and is home to the Ananda Yoga center - which is run by a friend and colleague of my current teacher.

During one month in this ashram, I will practice the foundation routines I have learned over the past month, and hopefully build on the gains in flexibility that I have already achieved. My goal is modest: to return ready to pick up where I left off with my lessons at the Divine Yoga Center in Patan. This entails allowing my ankle to heal fully and gaining a significantly greater range of motion in my hips and hamstrings.

There are several reasons why this will be, if anything, an even more demanding month than the one I have just completed:
  • The center is isolated and empty of other practitioners, which is a positive in that I will be able to focus and receive personal attention, but is intimidating as I have already reached a point where I am lonely for communion with friends and family (talking to my Dad and sister yesterday brought literal tears to my eyes);
  • The food at the center is all vegetarian Nepali. I like Nepali food, but I do not care for it every day (let alone several times a day), and have on more than one occasion reacted to the cuisine with embarrassing intestinal complaints (an integral part of travel I have been lucky to never encounter before Nepal);
  • The schedule is pretty tight and ambitious, starting at 5:30 a.m. and running through 8:00p.m. to encompass two yoga sessions, a walk in the nearby village, a yoga nidra (psychic sleep) session, a meditation session and a session of mantra chanting to close the day. Check out the schedule at:
  • The center is, to say the least, bare bones. Maybe I just got too used to hotels during my business travels, but even if that is not the case, these bare concrete rooms with metal bed stands and 2 inch thick mattresses are not inspiring: no closet, no shower (a faucet pouring cold waer in a shed serves this purpose), no carpet (just concrete), no mosquito netting (I will furnish my own) and no chair or desk to sit at - its even more bare than it sounds.

Will I last 1 month out there? Who is to say at this point - I crave the quiet and beauty while fearing the conditions. I do know that I will be on Internet very little in the coming weeks, and will be counting on e-mails to boost my spirit when I do log in.

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