Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Mysore, raw

“Sadness gives depth. Happiness gives height. Sadness gives roots. Happiness gives branches. Happiness is like a tree going into the sky, and sadness is like the roots going down into the womb of the earth. Both are needed, and the higher a tree goes, the deeper it goes, simultaneously. The bigger the tree, the bigger will be its roots. In fact, it is always in proportion. That's its balance.” - Osho


Something about this place scrapes me raw. I feel skinned alive at times... all defences are gone. The joys are otherworldly, but suffering is always near at hand. And at such times - when awareness of suffering imposes itself - I'll be hit by a crushing wave of melancholy that finds its reflection in carcasses, smells of burning, bats and death; animals eating plastic bags by the roadside; abandoned shoes, limbless beggars, rapes; and a whole catalogue of personal disappointments that bubble up from the distant and recent past to be relived, reloved, during waking hours and in dreams.

So then it is good to see friends... except when they cock their head to one side and look concerned.... your face changes their face, and they ask what is wrong almost before you can say hello. And you realise that this latest round of Nerve Cleansing is written all over you and seeping out of your eyes. Why does it rise to the surface like that.......

You berate yourself for being self-obsessed. For feeling anything less than joy when the sun is warm, and you aren't at work, and your to-do list resembles the following:

- wash hair (this already signals a busy day)
- practice 
- keep breakfast / lunch appointments
- nap, or maybe pool..... possibly a nap at the pool....
- pick up coconut milk / toilet roll / energy balls / whatever gets you through the day

Phew! Time for bed!!

Yet this isn't a two-week holiday in some plush resort, calculated to whisk you away from the concerns of life. It really is a genuine voyage to the bottom of the rabbit hole.... straight down into the depths of one's body, nervous system, unconscious mind.....


The dreams. A few snippets. Why not? Other people's dreams are always interesting, right? Chronologically:

1) 'on the ride'
Careening down a winding road through what I can only call a Hill City.... hurtling out of control, terrified, round twists and hairpin turns at top speed.... like a rollercoaster without tracks... terrifying, thrilling, seemingly never-ending. On and on and on......
(I'd happily do this one again)

2) 'can't get back to Mysore'
I have this every trip. I have to go back for a few hours or days. I'm stuck there. I should be here. I can't get back. THIS SUCKS!!

3) 'can't save the baby'
A tiny baby the size of a kitten crawls onto a dock and falls off. Of all the observers, I'm the quickest, into the water like a shot, reaching down, but the water is like molasses for me, I can't go down, it sinks just out of my reach......
(I don't think this has anything to do with actual baby regret type stuff.... NB bodies of water in dreams always symbolise the unconscious)

4) 'it's not my fault'
Someone accidentally starts a fire in my flat.
(not the friend who is actually staying there. Also, someone actually DID accidentally set fire to my flat once in real life, while I was in it, and burn it down (I obviously escaped!).... but in the dream it isn't like that, it's a small fire and I am able to put it out)
Then (I hesitate to even write this for the image it may conjure up).... I'm eating something and it is gross and I pull a razor blade out of my mouth. It's not the gory scene you'd imagine - no blood, all quite matter-of-fact - but I need to get a tetanus shot (in real life I'm covered, of course)....
I'm pissed off. All of this is SOMEONE ELSE'S FAULT! 
(Of course it never really is.....)

5) ' crumbling and backwards'
I go to cover the Mysore class. They try not to let me in due to my out-of-hours access having expired (a concept belonging to the financial services job, not the yoga teaching job)
But I get into the room somehow. It is a mess, full of dust and concrete, beams hanging down..... basically a construction site (possibly influenced by the prevalence here of construction sites!)
Four or five students are there. The clock shows I'm a quarter of an hour late (this never happened IRL)..... They are all facing the wrong way in the room and doing wrong things. I'm too late, and I don't have control........

So.... you get the idea. Not nightmares, but..... creepy.


There's a loneliness here that doesn't arise at home. It's an atmosphere. This, despite being surrounded by my tribe, despite very enjoyable meals and chais and walks and talks and hanging out. These are the people I share sweat and coconuts with, the ones who GET IT. The ones who devote a significant portion of their day to this process, who get up in the middle of the night most days to do it. Yet a social awkwardness can arise, at any time, that I thought I'd left in high school. I easily piss people off without meaning to. Or think that I have. Or forget that everyone here is on their OWN voyage, to the bottom of their very own sea, own body, own mind. We're swimming in the ocean, but it can feel like a fishbowl. A sense of isolation arises, of being on the fringe, which in London or my hometown manifests as a kind of glorious eccentricity.... a revelling in my individuality... a happiness at being me. But surely London is, or should be, a lonelier place? It strikes me that I miss physical contact - the draping of myself over students' bodies, the transfers of energy, the playing a part in the reduction of suffering, the gratitude, the hugs..... but it must be good to get away from all that, lest one become an emotional vampire.... what an ugly idea. One really shouldn't have to depend on one's students for strokes. I'm pretty sure I'm not doing this, but teaching does make me feel good. Really good. But yikes.

And as far as physical contact goes.... 
Just as I'd rather suffer hunger pains than eat a McDonalds..... similarly, I'm done with consuming a passionless product, which (who) was what I hungered for at the time, but which never really satisfied, and over the course of several years made me really quite sick. 
A couple of years of fasting has been a better choice. 
There may be pain, but it robs me of nothing.
And I'm sure that person isn't going hungry.


This year in Mysore a lot of people have been getting sick. Colds and flu and stomach issues mainly, but a few hospital visits, a friend hooked up to an IV; and up at Doctors' Corner some cases of dengue fever.... don't know if these last are yogis or not? I don't need to get sick, I have this melancholy that arises and passes away instead. India agrees with me, the food is perfect for me, the physical transition is always seamless. Perhaps I was a yogi in a previous life.... this is my fanciful idea. Possibly not a very good one! But nonetheless. My name means 'beautiful lotus' :-)

So. Finally one gets sick of this passing sickness, this kind of fever of the soul. You go and get a friend to put henna on your hands, go to Sandhya's for some magical healing food and kittens. Read Narayan's stories, oozing fragility, humanity...  walk out and observe the same timeless characters in the street... and then just fucking GET OVER YOURSELF. Plan a pool day, observe the radiance in a holy man's eyes. Stand outside the temple and imbibe the sacred, haunting rhythms of the timeless Vedic chants {insert shivers up spine}. Have some stupendous backbends right there in the temple of your own body. Observe how happy people with no legs can be. Make eye contact with tiny children who simply glow back, and wave and wave as they're carried away..... Smile at someone and see if they smile back. When they do, here..... WOW! it's always a cracker. Full face, full eyes, full smile.

Think about Sharath's smile and his work ethic. RESOLVE TO HAVE A STRONGER MIND. 

Go to practice - feel the sheer VITALITY that makes you want to just explode with joy.
Be overwhelmed with gratitude. 
Fall in love with your life all over again.
Feel joy.

May all beings be happy.


Nobel said...

Beautiful post, Susan! Does "Susananda" really mean "beautiful lotus"?

I've been having some creepy/alienating/disturbing dreams lately as well, but haven't gotten around to writing them down. I wonder if it has something to do with Nadi Shodana, or if it's just my own issues? Or both?

Anyway, enjoy Mysore! Wish I were there...

susananda said...

Hi Nobel!

Susan actually means 'graceful lily' or 'graceful lotus' (duh I got it a bit wrong, haha).

Ananda, as you probably know, means bliss.... susananda is just a stupid blog name :)

Could be nadi shodana... I have pretty crazy dreams anyway, but in India they go to another level of weird, and I know lots of people who say the same. You'll have to come here soon and find out ;-)

susananda said...

Susan is a feminine given name, a form of Susanna, deriving originally from Middle Egyptian "sšn" (lotus flower), first reported on an 11th Dynasty sarcophagus dating from approximately 2000 B.C. However, the Hebrew root for the name for the lily, שושן, is derived from the root שוש or ששנ, meaning "to be joyful, bright, or cheerful", which is the basis for the word and name ששון Sasson, meaning "joy of life*". The Persian name for lily is سوسن sousan, susan. The name of Susa, an ancient city of Persia, may be derived from the lilies which abounded in the plain in which it was situated.

- Wikipedia

susananda said...

Hmm just doing some more research, I was unaware of the 'joy' element!

sereneflavor said...

So, that's the road a teacher takes to be a better teacher. Respect from students and from readers. Over here in the colder side, lots of people are sharing the potency and influence of the recent full moon both before and after, affecting the night time and the daytime dreamtime. As always, a generous no holding back share is the best kind, so thanks again!

Nobel said...

From your picture, you do seem to be full of joy :-)

(0v0) said...



Glad you are back.

P.S. Maria, yes. Well put.

Karen said...

Beautiful. So glad I get to see you soon. xo

susananda said...

Thanks, everyone :)

I think today's a pure joy day :)