Saturday, March 10, 2012

Christmas & New Years in Tiru

Dec 23rd 2011- I took a taxi ride with 2 new friends into Pondicherry. On the way, Beth asked me about my experiences with and after Johnny. She confided that she'd been deeply moved by my referring to his death as the death of his body...that is, the soul goes on. She had been a biologist and had a disconnect with that, but had recently been having an understanding that science and spirituality are not at odds afterall. And she even confided that my speaking of the "death of his body", instead of "his death" changed the way she viewed her mother's death 30 years previously!
To further explain, I shared with Beth how my son Daniel and I had a picnic on the beach with 2 little baggies of Johnny's ashes just 3 months after the death of his body. I had pointed out to my son that his ashes looked just like the sand, small rocks and shells...and that I found it actually comforting that my body would go back to the Earth someday and look the same. I had no idea that I was going to feel that way...and it wasn't morbid at all. It was a deep knowing that the soul goes on. No feelings of grief arose at all, as I related my experiences with and after Johnny...including about our healthcare system.

That night I joined her at Tasty Cafe above her room where they had wi-fi. I asked if I could check my e-mail. I got an email from my son that Brianna, the kitty who had cuddled behind my knees hours before Johnny's body died, had been missing for 2 weeks. Tears streamed down my face, as I wrote back with questions and advice. And I had a very difficult time functioning for the next 2 weeks with grieving her and re-grieving Johnny because she was a very strong link to him on many levels. Some very beautiful things did transpire and I'd like to share those.

Technical difficulties along with deep saddness has been why I stopped posting for so long.

December 24th Christmas Eve I went to a vegetarian potluck with bhajans and carols. The power went out when Upahar began singing a song about surrender and others lit candles. Every cell in my body began crying...grief and happy, but honestly more grief at that moment...having to trust. And yet it felt good and "right" and actually cleansing to cry! Then I danced with my dear friend Virginia and a few other women, which helped to raise my energy and laugh with sisters & I even did a little tribal belly dancing at the party. I cried myself to sleep Christmas Eve. But I did feel loved, & lighter from the devotional singing & dancing

Dec 25th, 2012 Christmas Day- I went to kirtan at Upahar's home in the morning. I had to get up to dance for Krishna with the Maha Mantra. And I poured my heart out to Him as I danced and cried.

Over breakfast with Devi and Virginia I told them how Brianna would cuddle up to my heart at night and pull my hand to her with her paw...holding hands. And I shared with them that she could even see Johnny the 1st year after his transition...and that maybe she did this, went missing, to get to the last of the grieving.They held me as I cried.

After breakfast on Christmas, we did pradakshana around the inner path of Arunachala mountain. Devi led Virginia & I to a place to enter the path that began with beautiful flowers flowing over a fence & a labyrinth made of very thorny bushes. We each began at a different entrance & silently did our walk. I noticed a hornet & thorns in the opening I wanted to go through, but decided that wasn't going to hold me back from choosing the path I wanted to try. So I thought loving thoughts to the hornet & thorns as I passed through & thanked them for allowing me to pass. I was rewarded by meeting up with Devi & Virginia just a few steps forward & we embraced in a group hug & sounded together & then let out a unanimous deep sigh.

Virginia said she needed to take a nap & left us. I think we spent at least a 1/2 an hour walking the labyrinth over & over. It was so centering. At one point a group of children about 8-10 years old came & ran through the labyrinth as though it were a maze. One little girl ended up behind me & I briefly thought maybe I was preventing her from joining her friends, but then decided to sink back into the medatative walk as I was holding the mudra with left fingers pointed up & right fingers down, for protection & guidance to step into the flow. She seemed so patient behind me. And after I walked out we were silent for several moments & then she asked me my name. I think she had been very happy to have a more contemplative walk, rather than just running through it with her friends.

Then Devi & I entered the inner path around the mountain. It was really beautiful with shade trees on a beautiful sunny Christmas Day. We noticed the smallest details of seeds just barely showing through pods, some very developed pods & others that couldn't be seen but could be barely felt. Devi said it was like the power of Shakti, the Divine Feminine pregnant with potential. I said, "Beautiful analogy! It's like a dark moon night."

Very soon we came to leopard rock. It was in full sun, with some depressions & little pools of water. We sat down to watch some frogs floating in one of the tiny pools. They all dove under the water, so we laid down on our bellies & waited. Slowly they began emerging, & we watched each other. We looked a bit like frogs ourselves with just our heads & eyes showing. The warmth of the rock & energy of Arunachala, while frog watching felt very soothing as it penetrated my heart.

It was a very slow & thoughtful walk, so we didn't make it all the way around when we decided we had better go to the main road before sunset & to make it in time to Dominic's for dinner.

Back at Dominic's guest house restaurant, Devi laid down & I cuddled a very new puppy that was around 2 weeks old on my lap. The puppy had lost her mom & Dominic had adopted her & 3 litter mates. Each time she woke up I massaged her gently until she went back to sleep. It was comforting to me too.

After a really satisfying delicious vegan dinner Devi noticed 3 people cuddling & commented that it made her miss her cuddly friends at home. I told her I'd be up for some cuddling & so we & another friend cuddled for a bit, & Virginia snaped a great picture of us.

The next morning December 26, 2011, I felt so much better from the previous days of crying, chanting, dancing & being literally held by wonderful friends & the puppy... I text messaged Devi to ask where she got her bicycle & if she would go with me by auto rickshaw to get the Kali knives she had seen & thought would be perfect for me. She said she was up for both & asked me to meet her at Dominic's at 2pm after her acupuncture treatment.

She was already there by the time I arrived & was laying down with a puppy on her
chest. She told me she was worried about the other puppy, because it needed to be socialized. So I went to the little blanket enclosure Dominic had made for them. I called to the other puppy, "You don't know what you are missing. You could be held & massaged & loved!" She came out to me right away. It was the same puppy from the night before. I picked her up & she licked my chin. Then I noticed she had a chewed through 'worry spot' on a front leg. Brianna had a chewed through 'worry spot' on a hind leg. I mused about it to Devi as I laid down near her & placed my puppy on my heart. I told Devi about all the similarities to Brianna, including being born about the time of Brianna's disappearance & her shyness around everyone except with me...& I really wondered outloud if Brianna had reincarnated as this puppy to join me on my journey. It didn't even matter if that was so, but it was comforting.

We put the puppies back in their little nest & Devi took me to the man's house-hut
 who rented her the bike she was using. On the way I confided a couple of things. First that I was finally comfortable with knowing how to find a few places... & had previously thought that a bike would actually help me get lost faster! And the second was that I hadn't ridden a bike as a kid & had only ridden on the flat playa at Burning Man. She thought India was really a wild place to learn to ride a bike...which it proved to be... having near misses, my running into a wall, falling back off the bike & dancing around it as I did so & with no reason for the fall. I even rode on the main street in town, but I hopped off when traffic got crazy.

That night we went to one of the little vendors by the main temple, who sold knives. I had told Devi the previous week how I danced with coconut cleavers, to chanting with Kali. And that I had done this dance the last day my yoga studio was clear my way & open up for new beginnings, out with the old & in with the new. I had locked my studio doors, covered the windows, played a really powerful Kali chant on You Tube with a conch shell & danced sky clad as I ran & leaped with coconut cleavers throught the studio. It was very freeing & powerful.

So when we came to the mats rolled out with large curved knives, I reached down to pick 2 up & felt their weight & energy. One felt right & the other didn't match in weight or feel & so I found another one. Then I held them with knees bent & legs wide, grounding with my eyes closed. I drew in a few deep breath & sang the chant inwardly as I made a few infinity symbol passes through the air. The husband & wife there, who were selling the knives, smiled broadly & seemed delighted & amused. Devi exclaimed that she could really feel my bringing forth Kali. I think I bought the knives for about $2.

A couple of days later, Devi sang a couple of Kali chants while playing the harmonium while I danced with my new cleavers to clear the stuck energy I had been feeling. And I found it was helpful. It wasn't as dynamic as I thought it would be, but more contemplative & drawing out grief. And I could really feel Devi calling Kali in.

New Year's Eve 12/31/11, my friend Beth DJ 'd for Tasty Cafe` on their rooftop. I danced for 2 1/2 hours, which was so good to really get into my body & invoke the joy of movement! The daughter of the restaurant owner also had put together some Bollywood songs in their language Tamil & Tam-lish (Tamil & English together). She was very shy, but Beth & I got her out dancing. Her dad danced like he could have been in a Bollywood movie! We couldn't get her mom on the floor though. During a slow song I got a couple of people to join me making hand shadows of bunnies & snails on the wall. Then just before midnight I grabbed a pineapple that Beth slid down a pole, while standing on a I did the count down to 2012. It was our corny answer to the dropping of the ball in Times Square, The Big Apple.

I made it to Bajan's at Upahar's for 1/01/2012, New Year's day. When we began chanting the Maha Mantra to Krishna, I had to make my way to the back to get up & dance for Krishna...& cry for help for Brianna.

1/03/2012 I moved out of my apartment & into the lower level of a duplex beneath Devi. Then went over to visit Dominic to help me book a train. I had intended to go to a mini convocation & celebration for Paramahansa Yogananda's Birthday on January 5th (which of course is also Johnny's transition day...the day Guruji whisked Johnny home to Divine Mother) but just couldn't get travel plans together for it.

A brilliant blue humming bird landed on a bush & stayed the longest time looking at me. Dominic told me, look he came for you. Dominic didn't know how humming birds came to me in Johnny's garden & how one had hovered over a notebook with INDIA written on it back in February of 2011, as it hovered inches from my eyes.

1/05/2012 I participated in Devi's  3 hour sound healing workshop that was so wonderful, that I continued singing & meditating at home & felt a nice connection to Johnny. It was a good thing that I didn't go to Yogananda's convocation, because I was sick all day on the 6th with the runs. I was able to sit & meditate for 2 hours during a reprieve...but the moment I got up, I was sick again.

1/09/2012- Dominic had helped me make travel arrangements by overnight train to Amma's ashram the following day. I was really excited & so ready to go. I had my last night at his roof top restaurant.

Beth & Chris came to send me off. But I knew Beth would have to leave the festivities early because of doing pradakshana around the inner path of Arunachala for the full moon. I gave her a little of Johnny's ashes to take with her. I'd never given Johnny's ashes to anyone for ceremony...without my being present. So, this was a big deal. I asked her to take them to an altar someone had made from a big meteor that they dug up & had painted Shiva stripes on it & did fire pujas to. I told Beth that Johnny had been such a si-fi geek & that it was a perfect tribute to him & including Arunachala Mountain (incarnation of Shiva). After she left, 3 Frenchmen played flutes & drums. The music was hauntingly beautiful & I danced under the moon for Johnny & Arunachala.

December in Tiru

<p>Tuesday Dec 13th I was just a little tired from the trekk to the top of Arunachala the previous day. No signs of dehydration and I just felt my quads and hamstrings a little bit. Going downstairs at The Dreaming Tree after having lunch with Devi and Charles, I felt like I had Arunachala thighs...but still high from the experience of being held by Johnny Re and the mountain.<br>
Wednesday Dec 14 I hired our guide, Ashok, to take me to an ancient temple bathing ground from 1,600 years ago. It was nice to get out into the countryside. Ashok explained that there aren't very many rice fields left in Tiruvannamelia as we were leaving town on his motorcycle, due to land being sold to build houses...sad. Fields of sugar cane, peanuts, rice and a planted similar to the potato stretched before us.<br>
It took probably about 2 1/2 hours to get there. The pool had filled up from a recent rain, so we were only able to see the carvings on the 2 foot wall surrounding it and the ones lying around the pool. Everyday life was shown- a woman churning ghee, dancing, war, meditation, vrksasana tree pose in hatha yoga and a few tantric scenes. Ganesh was at the front protecting &amp; Nandi a form of Parvati -depicted as a cow for the divine feminine- was on all of the corners. <br>
We had lunch at a roadside restaurant on the way back- iglie white rice formed into patties, vegetable soup and peanut chutney.<br>
Ashok dropped me off at Shanti Niliyam and I took a 1 1/2 hour nap on one of the futtons and cushions on the roof top restaurant. The I did a 20 minute savasana reclining on one of their yoga bolsters.<br>
Friday wsDec 15 I attended to laundry by hand in my bucket in the shower and marketing. Then I met Virginia for dinner at Manna Cafe. We discussed what to do for Christmas, while swatting mosquitos as it was dusk. I'd decided to stay through Christmas, to not have to resettle and make friends elsewhere. After dinner we went to a Papaji satsang video. Papaji had been a disciple of Ramana's. It was a compilation of talks, but very sweet. He stressed the timeless simple wisdom that meditation is not a technique. And that all you need to do is be quiet and sit in total innocence for God to come...that we all come into and we leave this world alone.
Saturday Dec 16th was the 1st day of their month with a celebration to all goddesses. After my morning japa, meditation with affirmations and sun salutes, I recalled Johnny asking  years ago in 2003 the 1st time he had cancer if I would be his yoga teacher. So I asked Johnny out loud, looking toward the altar with his box of ashes, "Will you be my yoga teacher?" A little bird sang outside, my answer "yes"
I walked to the main temple in town, about an 8 or 10 mile walk. My cough was gone and I seemed to be exhaling at all of the right times when buses and auto rickshaws came by.
I walked down my street to the main road and then to Hill Round Road. I went to the 1st couple of outdoor temples, but they seemed to be just a way of getting donations and I decided that I'd prefer to donate here and there to someone in real need...and I wanted to reach the temple and have some time before dark. Then I saw a beautiful temple across the street that attracted me. Shiva with his cobras gaurded the intrance. Looking through the window, as it was locked was Saraswati (goddess of music), a lingam (phalus representing Shiva and male creative energy in the Universe) and Nandi (the cow representing Parvati who is Shiva's wife in the form of Shakti the feminine principle of the Void). An orange robed sadu came up to me and told me he could get a key to let me in. A few minutes later, after he let me in he stepped out so I could have some silence there.  The lingam was beautifully decorated with fresh flowers. I placed my palms together, bowing inwardly thanking God as father, Arunachala Shiva & to Johnny for bringing me here. I asked for blessings & help from my beloved Johnny for protection along my path. A bell sounded in answer outside...I had given no visual cues in my demeanor. Then I whispered in Nandi's ear. I had seen women, men and children do this in utter devotion at some of the outdoor temples. So I thanked Divine Mother for being here & I asked her & Johnny to help me drop into endless Shakti & awakening. Again a bell rang at that very moment & before I pulled away from Nandi's ear. I walked out and thanked the sadu, giving him 10 rupees. I garnered from what he told me, that they feed people at this particular temple. No wonder I was drawn to the energy. I told him that I love the Krishna temples because they sing and dance for God, and they feed people.
Along my way I enjoyed my view of Arunachala, women in bright saris with their babies, monkeys in the tree branches above me, well fed dogs... I stopped to have a coconut, delicious. And later I saw people gathered around a hand grinder for making sugar cane juice. They were using glasses that they rerinsed to use again. I really wanted to try it, but also stay safe. So I picked up a glass and put a little of my bottled water in it to swirl around, making sure I got the rim as well. I repeated this and then handed him my glass. The freshly made juice was a pretty pale yellow like lemonade. I suddenly had a desire to have a picture of me with "friends" drinking it. I sat down on a chair with a family there and handed my camera to one of the men. I clinked glass with someone that I think was his wife. He took a great picture of us laughing with the glasses and then scrolled it back so everyone could see the picture. Everyone else was able to see the picture except her and he ended up looking at all of my pictures to find it- lol. They got to see that I went to the top of Arunachala, and the reverence for their mountain. And they saw the arm balance on my way down it. So we got into a little discussion about my being a yoga teacher.
A couple of families along my way wanted to adopt me and take me home for lunch...but very little English was spoken.