India is synonymous with architecture & temples, spiritual journeying, curries & spices, beautiful textiles, and of course chai.
There is so much more to India than these few things, but it cannot all be told in a short story. Even with writing a long, well-written report, full of spirit and heart, you might feel some of what a short story misses, but you would still not fully get India.
For three weeks I was immersed in the love shown by the volunteers, coordinators, and fellow scholars at the Sri Ram Chandra Mission (SRCM) in Ahmedabad.
During the first two or three days I felt the excitement and hesitation within myself and amongst all the new faces we all were. But by the third or fourth day, the shift was undeniable: you could feel a quick sisterhood and brotherhood forming among us.
We came from over 35 countries and a few different cities in India. Some of us spoke the same language, some of us didn’t. What was interesting is that we all communicated with each other anyways.
We either used gestures we hoped were universally accepted to carry the same meaning, or we made impromptu translators of people passing by, or we just spoke in different languages and used common body language, or we believed ‘the force’ would help us understand. We were in an ashram after all. ‘The force’ was everywhere.
Speaking of the ashram, I am reminded of a couple of things: For starters, ashrams are not only for people who are spiritually evolved to a level you think is higher than possibly yours. Ashrams are for everyone.
The SRCM is the first one I have been to, and there were all sorts of people. Secondly, one thing that I realize now, which I took for granted there, is how spiritually charged the ashram is. Practicing meditation there gave me experiences on a spiritual and physical level that I haven’t quite felt since coming back home. What I have felt is an emotional upset caused by things that touch the soul. My sensitivity has increased, but it isn’t something I felt as much while at the ashram. The use and presence of cellular devices present a disturbance that was not at the ashram.
I embarked on this journey with a conscious decision to have no expectations. I didn’t know what the sleeping arrangements would be, nor what food we would eat. I was not sure about a few things, but they did not really matter. What I knew was that I put India on my vision board, and affirmations came left and right to confirm this was a good decision for the whole; not just me. And… I also felt good about the trip; I felt safe and that everything would be just fine. Thankfully it was.
While I was there I learned how to guide heartfulness meditation for anyone who is interested. The experience was empowering as far as what I can accomplish if I put my mind to it (I am not going to get into functionalist views vs Marxist views in this post), but also humbling that I can even minimally be a part of someone else’s spiritual progress.
Another thing I learned is that you must always make time for chai. You can have your tea with milk and sugar, or just milk, or you can have dip tea. I absolutely love the term dip tea. It makes complete sense and you only need two words. I digress. I learned that when you are in the middle of serious business, you make time for a tea break. When you are in the middle of pleasure, just spending time with family and friends, or time with yourself: make time for tea.
“First we meditate, then we go for tea”
I’m ending this post here and will write another one about the historical sites we saw on our day out, and of course a post about the food! I have to talk about the food!