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Greetings from Devika!

October

sunny 25 °C
View First time round the world on Dani girl's travel map.

So I have only been away for two months and already I have changed my name to Devika, my new spiritual name. Isn't it nice? One month of living on an Ashram has changed my life. In the words of The Charlatans, 'I was blind, now I can see...' Not that I listen to that rajasic music anymore. Rajasic means overly stimulating the senses! I only listen to sattvic (spiritual) music now (Hindu chanting, 'Om namah sivaya, om namah sivaya'... Finally, I've found the inner peace and calm that I've craved my whole life...

Ok if you believed that then a) you're a bit gullible and b) i'm offended that you don't know me well enough to have faith in my strong and stubborn mind! Having said that I really do have a spiritual name and an accompanying mantra!!! I thought it would be cool..it's amazing what you think is cool when you've been living in a monastry (yes monastry - more of that in a minute!) for a month! When the Swami (monk - more of her later!) gave it to me she told me it meant 'Goddess'...so obviously I was delighted! I found out later that it actually meant 'little Goddess' which almost everyone at the camp found hysterically funny and source of contuining amusement for the rest of our time there..

So ok backtracking for a few moments here. So I had mentioned to quite a few of you that I was going to be doing a Yoga teacher training course at a yoga farm in the middle of nowhere in California for a month and I'd also mentioned to quite a few of you that it looked pretty tough going (only two veggie meals a day, getting up at 5:30am every day etc) and some of you were even faintly envious (Kathy-although not of the food I recall!!) But nothing, I mean NOTHING prepared me for what I was going to face over the month...

So actually the veggie meals turned out to be enormous and filling and there was no time to feel hungry anyway so that turned out to be the least of my worries!! I was initially relieved on meeting my fellow trainees who all seemed normal! I was actually further relieved when I saw the Yoga farm for the first time. The farm has an unbelievably scenic setting in rolling countryside in Northern California, with beautiful wooden huts and cabins and a lovely lake and fountain in the centre of the grounds. It seemed like the most calming and tranquil place ever!

So the very first day rapidly deteriorated into the biggest culture shock of my life (yes, Davey P I know I haven't been to any third world countries yet, so it's not much of a comparison). We got given our uniform (white shapeless trousers and an unflattering long yellow t-shirt - colours of purity and learning!) and got trundled into our first Satsang. We'd already been woken up by a loud bell at 5:30am and had to throw on some clothes before walking hungrily through the dark to the meditation building.

OK I confess I had seen the word Satsang on the programme they sent us before the course but I didn't actually bother to look it up - i figured it had something to do with learning Yoga. So anyway, I soon discovered what Satsang was when I walked into a room with a huge alter filled with different hindu Gods - Ganesha, the elephant-headed deity, the three-eyed God and a huge doll of Krisha, an incarnation of the creator and one third of the holy Hindu trinity (I know I'm good but we had to learn this all for our final exam!) The thought running through my mind at that point was 'hmm this is a bit more religious than I expected..' or maybe the words were a bit more dramatic than that at the time..

So we had half an hour of communal silent meditation, sitting cross-legged on the floor in the dark, during which time my legs went dead (four times) and my back ached more than ever before (that includes carrying my enormous backpack - Mum!) Then the lights went on and the chanting of 'Jaya Ganesha, Jaya Ganesha, Jaya Ganesha Pahiman, Sri Ganesha, Sri Ganesha, Sri Ganesha Rakhshaman' started and then seemed to carry on for what seemed like forever. Then we were treated to a lecture from the main swami (a large vietnamese women with an awful lot of presence and a strict, focused face - not what I was expecting either!) on the nature of the mind! Some reciting of mantras began and we all had to plod up one by one and bow to the alter and the swamis and have some coloured powders smeared on our faces. The most terrifying part of Satsang then occured when we all had to stand up and say why we wanted to do the course. I was one of the first to be called up and I muttered something about it being a great form of exercise and 'one I had actually stuck at'...hohoho...not the right answer I soon realised....no, everyone else was coming to 'find inner peace' or 'to spread yoga to all the beautiful people' or to put some discipline into their wayward lives...that's when the overwhelming sense of panic and wanting to escape as quickly as humanly possible set in...the people who seemed normal did not seem quite so normal after all....

To be continued...

Posted by Dani girl 10:39 Archived in USA Tagged round_the_world

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Comments

Glad I'm not gullible....

Living in NI for years didn't convert you to any form of Christianity so I was pretty sure your mind wouldn't succomb to a month in a yoga farm...

by Adboy

Oh my gosh. This is extremely entertaining. Please write more! Sounds very different from these cold days in Canada...
love to you,
Sarah

by saritawill

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