FIRE AND ICE
Mexico was amazing.
Can you say "Six days with Dharma Mittra?"
Six days with Dharma Mittra in the jungle, that is.
Usually, you see him in the rajasic (active) jungle that is New York City.
But this time he was in a sattvic (pure, peaceful) environment called Otam. It's a wonderful green shala in an eco-friendly community called Pueblo Sac Be in the middle of the jungle. Everything on the premises was made without machines. We practiced in a palapa - an open-sided structure with a thatched roof made of dried, woven palm tree leaves.
And when you looked up you saw this:
The intensive reviewed and built upon everything we learned in the teacher trainings: pranayama, the koshas, the yamas (ethical roots), concentration and meditation, purification and psychic development, the gunas, the Bhagavad-Gita and so much more. Plus there were Dharma's mind-blowing asana sequences and countless opportunities to do forearm balances.
It was Dharma in the morning, and Dharma in the evening. In candlelight.
I think he deepened the spiritual practice of everyone who was there (and some even began to see the Self within the self).
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I roomed with three wonderful women in a hotel rustico in town. The shala was 8km away from the beach, in a lush jungle dotted with cenotes (fresh water sink-holes).
In the community's common space there's an amphitheater, bathrooms, buildings, cenotes and whatnot:
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On our first night in town we tried to find a market where we could buy fruit (on two evenings we ate watermelon on our balcony, while bats pretended to dive-bomb us). Everyone pointed in the same direction, and said "Wal-Mart." We thought they were joking... until we got to the end of the street. It was the land of rajas (activity), but we had to do it.
The following day we found Maru's organic place, and on the way we saw this arco, or rainbow:
On Friday - the day of the Virgen de Guadalupe Festival - we saw a rainbow around the moon:
Later I learned from Torsten that it means cold weather is coming.
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In town you would also come across curiosities like this:
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Our chartered bus was rather festive. This wheel detail is for tire magnate Dreyfus of course.
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I only went once to the beach, which was more than enough. A mi no me gusta mucho a la playa.
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I spent three afternoons in the jungle instead of going back to town between sessions. One of them was spent engaged with people - the two other yogis who opted to stay and the owners of Otam, Maru and Torsten. They built the whole place by hand, from nothing, and it's all eco-friendly, from the dry toilets (where you cover your waste with sand, like a cat, and it's later used as compost) to the solar power used to light the evening yoga class. (Their lively dogs, by the way, are named Frida and Max).
After an involved tea ceremony with a man from Russia, we made our way to the top of the tower where Torsten lives. There were solar panels and breath-taking views of the jungle, etc.
* * *
On another afternoon in the jungle, I breathed and meditated and rested. Dharma says that spending one day in contemplation is greater than bathing 1,000 times in the holy Ganges River.
In the middle of the contemplation, the eyes became distracted by some movement on the ground.
There was a line of vertical leaves, moving from left to right.
Upon close inspection, I saw that they were being carried by tiny worker ants a fraction of their size.
They were marching steadfastly towards some goal, which was far, far away (and which I could not discern).
Never once did the ants stop and rest.
There were many obstacles in their path, including a hill of debris.
They went over it, without slowing down.
They did not seem to worry that the end was not in sight.
And whenever they eventually dropped off what they were carrying, they took the same long road back to point A, to pick up another load.
On the return trip, they did not dawdle or stop to commiserate with their fellow ants.
I could not imagine those ants complaining about the bus ride to the shala....
Or giving up after 14 breaths in forearm balance.
I learned a lot from those ants.
* * *
After studying my passport, the Customs agent in Charlotte asked me how long I'd been gone. "Six days," I said. "Then you don't know yet about your governor," he said, and proceeded to tell me about Blago's alleged attempt to sell Obama's senate seat. (It's pronounced "Bluh-GOY-a-vich," by the way). Welcome to America.
And on the way home from the airport late last night, the rain began to freeze and turn to sleet. The temperature plummeted as the night wore on, yet still the sleet/whatever came down. This morning the world was covered with ice - including the car I drive. I tried to open the door and it was frozen shut.
I eventually got it open and scraped off most of the ice before making my way to teach.
I had to make all left turns to get there, as I could not see out the right windows.
The side streets were unusually slick, and I nearly slid into several cars. Several times.
Later I learned that in order to save money, the City of Chicago is not salting side streets this year. (Apparently paying off lawsuits is cheaper than road salt)
Yet I bet they still have funds to lure the Olympics here.
Bienvenidos a la selva indeed....