Falling into Grace*

Ajanta Caves, monk's cell

Central themes of India trip—releasing/falling—are showing up even in the paradoxical present as I wonder whether the desire to write about it has also vanished!

Will see by starting with the trip itself. A total last-minute Plan B, it could not have worked out better for my ailing shoulder and awareness practice. First of all, studying with two excellent, certified teachers in India, freed me from the "shoulds and musts" that are: study must be only in Mysore and only with Sharath.

Maybe I can relate this major oh-so-important to the mundane oh-so-important, the latter being concern about my hair, looks, eating certain things, and with having things be a certain way. But like the Plan B trip, or tumbling off a ledge, I had no choice but to relax and enjoy. So I simply stopped caring what my hair looked like or if I looked old, tired, or god forbid—uncool.

This was and is liberating. Travel in India (or any place that makes us more aware) can be like taking the fast track to pratyahara or samadhi, release of all attachments. (Not holding out for total freedom—I still really hate bucket baths in cool weather.)

As for the subtle, am seeing the many small, almost imperceptible ways on and off the yoga mat that  internal thought reactions to (judgements is another word) or about what is, leads away from harmony with truth and is restrictive/causes suffering.

Ajanta Caves

Letting myself be a tourist was also a good thing, and it was fun! The Ajanta and Ellora caves have a been a dream of mine since graduate school. They did not disappoint. Both places vibrated with sacred, spiritual, and ancient energy.

Started this post a few weeks ago before it disappeared with my IPad at the Mumbai airport. That event seems to fit with the theme of being forced to let goHowever, I shall not let go of the fine memories of the chill morning wind blowing my shawl as I walked along an open ditch alley to Louise Ellis’ Rishikesh shala. Once there, I was welcomed by the shala’s warm colors, the practice, and Louise’s teaching style. It felt gently yin after Andrew Hillam’s gently yang style in Gokarna, where the warm mornings were a predictor of the day’s heat.

two images in Louise Ellis' shala

Gratitude to both teachers who were of great support and help to my shoulder-hampered Ashtanga practice. Andrew provided a Bhanda epiphany, if there is such a thing—by putting our focus on breathing by expanding the chest only, resulting in an automatic contraction of the bhandas. This is big! It bypasses the (useless for me) obsession with trying to contract them.

Anyway I could go on—the chanting, yoga sutra study, the fun group, and Andrew’s dryly hilarious wit.  Louise’s additional twice weekly yin yoga classes, and the energetic tone she set with her supportive presence. Deep bow to Louise and Andrew!

Here's to letting go.

And grace.



*Falling into Grace— Wanted to use the word "fall" and I had originally used "truth" but grace seemed so much more lovely. Realized after putting the words together - it is also the name of one of Adyashanti's books.

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