Friday, November 02, 2007

"Shocking Asia": Notes from the Ashram

Apologies for my long absence, which I can only assure you is due to lack of Internet/PC resources rather than reticence on my part.

I currently reside at the Swami Vivekananda Yoga Anusandhana Samsthana (SVYASA) campus, about 35Km outside of bustling Bangalore city - and a world away from anywhere I have ever been or thought I would be.

Shocking Asia
I recall one morning back in the halcyon late 90s - summer '98 maybe - when I got back to my drafty apartment in Samsong-dong, Seoul, to find my friend Julien stretched on the couch watching a 70's vintage documentary called "Shocking Asia". The video chronicled the "shocking" social, religious, cultural and (of course) sexual practices of North and South Asia.

I walked in on the "shocking" site of dozens of Indians lined up outside a temple drinking water and ritualistically regurgitating it into a trough on the ground. Hmmmm.

And here I was on Monday morning, in rural India, practicing Vaman Dhauti (better known to many as vomiting) with a group of fellow participants. Crazy, no? But Vaman Dhauti is but one of the six Shatkarmas, or internal cleansing practices, that are regularly practiced in yoga.

And here I was...

Sacrificing Normal
Shocking or not, I can only follow this path of thinking to the inevitable realization that whatever is "normal," I probably gave up any claim to it many years ago, when Korea somehow became "home" instead of "shocking" and "exotic."

I have recently realized, during a meditation on comfort where I was asked to find my safest and happiest refuge in the world, that my Dad's place in Economy - which I have only visited 3 or 4 times - is that place for me.

Which really leaves me with no home to return to (althuogh Economy is one I can visit, and hope that I have many more chances to see), no community to slot back into (as my abortive foray into the USA proved) and no concept of "normalcy" to hang my hat on.

The ultimate "globalized" citizen?

Finding Balance
And, more importantly, exaggerating the importance for me, personally, to find a balance within my heart, mind, body and soul - so that normal will be carried around in me and so that home will be me, myself and I.

Wherever I lay my hat I call my home...

4:30 am
At at this point of the search, that "home" includes this ashram, and rising at 4:30am for:
5:00 Meditation
5:30 Yoga asana/shatkarma
6:30 Bath/wash
7:30 Gita chanting/lesson
8:15 Breakfast
8:45 Karma yoga song
10:00 Lecture
11:00 Pranayama (yogic breathing)
12:00 Meditation
1:00 Lunch
2:30 Meeting with counselor
4:00 Yoga Asana
5:00 Communing with nature
6:15 Bhajan (emotional yoga)
6:45 Meditation
7:45 Dinner
10:00 Bed

Patience as a Reward
Its exhausting and rewarding, even though it has yet to provide me with a "yoga miracle" or similar cure to all that ails me. I still have the challenges I have lamented for months or years - but am cultivating some degree of patience that rests on what can only be faith, although it is hard to see through the mental clouds at times.

I will try to keep you updated when I get close enough to a PC and have time amid my other correspondence and commitments. Meanwhile, if you are interested in seeing the ashram, check out

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