by Evi Buzaki
It’s going to be a brief summary of an amazing experience, brief as the journey was to this vast country. In any case, most of the things that are experienced in these travels can not be described in words, they rather stay imprinted deeply in the mind and heart.
Chennai, South India (former Madras)
The capital of Tamil Nadu state, a very busy and bustling with traffic city, so very important to know what you’re looking for and how to move around neighborhoods in order to have a great time in the city. Otherwise, the thought of ‘let’s enjoy a stroll around the city this sunny day’ will leave you very disappointed.
Despite the noise and the somewhat unusual…smells while you’re walking in the city, you will encounter a few times a different tone in the sense of smell…turn round the corner and all of a sudden…an overwhelming smell of flowers!!
Chennai is full of temples, worshiping their gods and Kolam patterns in front of the Hindu temples and houses is a pleasure to see as you walk by. These mandala-like patterns are drawn by women every morning with rice flour/chalk powder and their purpose is not only to decorate but also to bring prosperity in their houses. It is a sign that the home is welcoming the day and any living being as a visitor, praising the qualities of living in harmony and prosperity (main qualities of goddess Lakshmi). What a wonderful concept…
Not to forget of course a worthwhile visit to Vivekananda House and the Krishnamurti Foundation. Only make sure you have plenty of time to sit around comfortably and read or meditate.
I was very lucky because December is the month of Music Festival in Chennai, a sacred month of Hindus and there were loads of music and dance festivals with South Indian classical music (Carnatic Music). I’ve watched quite a few performances that included just music with instruments and vocals (very traditional Carnatic music), pure amazing Bharatanatyam dance and combination of dance and music. A different but proper entertainment and a celebration for the beauty of the body..! Really enjoyed all of them.
KYM (Krishnamacharya Yoga Mandiram)
I consider myself very fortunate to have already been introduced and studied under Krishnamacharya and Desikachar’s tradition through my teachers in the UK. I thought a lot about my teachers during this course and the solid foundation of yoga tools that have shared with us in so many different ways. Sri Gurubhyo Namah…
It requires a lot of self practice and years of contemplation and study to actually be able to apply these tools skillfully. It is a highly intelligent way to live a balanced life and I really find this approach powerful and helpful for the body to be strong, but also to keep the mind sharp and clear.
The KYM school is very well structured and the teachers highly competent. All of them! We had different teachers for every topic (asana, pranayama, theory-philosophy, Ayurveda, psychology, healing chants, meditation) and frankly, it was a great pleasure to meet each one of them. Theory, practice plans, much new information but also necessary revision to refresh.
What I didn’t get from KYM? hmmm…Probably the airy fairy concepts on moon cycles and moon/female energy since we focused on women…Should I expect these kinds of teachings from KYM? well…no. One will get the well grounded and scientific knowledge from KYM…and then…well, one can associate the energies the way one feels like it.
60 kms south of Chennai is the little historic town of Mahabalipuram, nice and cozy with magnificent temples and sanctuaries carved out of the rocks all around town. The impressive monuments are classified as world heritage site by Unesco.
Well.. not to mention the maximum joy and sense of freshness from the tropical sea breeze.
Vipassana meditation – Dhamma Setu
The trip ended with a 10 day Vipassana meditation retreat in Tamil Nadu.
I have written a lot about Vipassana and every time after the 10 day course you have so many things to say.. there is a feeling that the mind is more clear and sharp.
This course left me a bit bewildered and not satisfied but I can see where I was wrong. The technique itself shows you where you can go wrong. But the mind is so powerful and when it wants to produce misery there is no way out of it. Or rather…it needs many years of practice to be able to come out of it. On the 5th day discourse there is a lot of talking about misery and suffering because in all eastern traditions and practices there is one main goal : to come out of misery. See also Y.S. 2.16 ‘Future suffering should be avoided’. There are lots of interesting ideas about human mind and the inherent cause of suffering both in Yoga Sutras and Vipassana.
The only thing I could say after this course is that it is relatively easy to understand these concepts intellectually. But to actually experience the turmoil of the mind while you are trying to practice equanimity is something that you can not grasp intellectually. You need to go through it, to actually live it yourself. You understand a lot of things about yourself and others, mind games are in our human nature after all…
Here with friends…