I had the great opportunity to spend a month in India last year. It began at the I-AIM Ayurvedic Medical Center outside of Bangalore. Being is this picturesque Indian countryside focusing on meditation and yoga for six hours a day while receiving Ayurvedic treatments for my sleep and eye issues allowed me to find grounding and start a process of rejuvenation and healing. My fear was that I would get terribly sick; but truly, I do not remember the last time I felt so at peace and so healthy as I did in India.
In the mornings, we practiced sunrise yoga and meditation on the roof and could see the lights and hear the morning chanting of mantras from a nearby village. We decided to take the mile-walk to the village one afternoon…rustic would be an understatement. Most homes were simply small concrete abodes ventilated only by the air coming through small windows, the school had a few rooms with a volleyball net outside, and the unique feature was that it housed a farm for abused and abandoned cows—150 or so. I was struck by the immense joy of the people we encountered. The families running the cow farm invited us to meet some of the cows and drink coffee with raw cow’s milk. The joy was infectious, because I laughed until I cried that afternoon. We met some of the youth playing volleyball, a goat herder, children on bikes—all of them very curious of us and happy. There was a deep sense of community: they worshipped together, played together, grew all of their own food together—they needed each other. I was struck by how very little they possessed in material objects and creature comforts and yet possessed so much joy.
We have mostly lost this in the U.S. as we become more and more programmed, isolated and independent in how we live—we choose busyness over intimacy as Luhrs alludes—and consumerism is a far too popular treatment to satisfy our restless souls. For now, I will simply turn inward and spend some time evaluating what it is about my life that no longer serves me. What is keeping me from joy? I realize winter is around the corner, but perhaps it is time for some spiritual spring cleaning. Which possessions tend to own me (instead of the other way around) and deprive me of valuable time? What in my schedule needs to be released in order for me to be more fully present with those I love? In what ways do I busy myself to keep me from valuable time on the mat listening and getting to know my true self?
May I embrace simplicity so that I have more space in my home, mind and spirit.