And I did dive in to Rishikesh, land of Dana, birthplace of yoga! I had to. Isn't this why I came all the way out here to India. What was I doing hiding in a dingy hotel room talking for hours with a friend, breaking his heart when I could of been out doing what I am meant to? I guess these are always the after thoughts of situations that get out of hand, when you should have already learned that darn lesson.
And so, I dove in! I went out in search of all things Dana. I found a local woman who did henna painting and made an apointment to be adorned. I found a thai massage therapist and made an apointment to be pampered. I bought a whole new wardrobe, just for the sake of fun...cuz I could, cuz the fashion was just worthy of it, and cuz it made me feel like a princess. I explored every local dive I could and made friends and tasted all the cuisine. In the meantime, "What about yoga?", you may be asking.
Well, I wanted to dive into yoga. But that feeling in my tummy that I often refer to as intuition was telling me I had yet to find my teacher. There was yoga on every corner but none of the places gave me that famiiar sensation that I had come to rely on while travelling. That sensation is intuition, it is more than that even. It is an inner voice that guides you. It becomes loud and clear when you are traveling and are far removed from schedules, expectations, and limitations on the self. When traveling the only map to go by is one's inner voice, andi t always tells the truth, and it always stears you right and it always knows best, and when it doesn't speak you don't act!
One morning the voice woke me from sleep and told me to go up to the roof top yoga at our very hotel. And even though my mind told me this was wrong, my inner voice made me do it, and I am so glad she did. My mind didn't want to go because the teacher was an Israeli woman and not and Indian sage. I didn't come all the way out to India just after traveling Israel to study with an Israeli woman. I came here to the birthplace of yoga to find a person born of the tradition, raised in the culture, drenched in the karma, and encompasing all that yoga is, truely from it's source. Wow, just writing that I can see what high expectations I had of this journey and this land. I could have been let down so easily.
But I wasn't!!
Studying with this woman was nice but it didn't blow me away. My mind said, "See, I told you she wouldn't be the one you were looking for." But my body said, "But, yoga is yoga and that was a nice class." And my inner voice of my spirit said, "Patience my dear. You are getting closer."
I connected with her and she was so glad to have an experienced student in her class. She was overjoyed at my presence and looked forward to sharing with me. I thought that was nice, but I had this feeling that what she could share would be "nice" but nothing more. She felt like my pier and not my mentor. She could share with me what the other smart kid in science class can share with the science dork. We could trade secrets, but not lead one another towards higher levels of the artform.
And then, after class we all walked down to the lobby together and that is when I met my guru. Guru means mentor or teacher. Gu means dark and Ru means light. A guru is one who brings someone in the dark into the light. From dark to light. It is a term used in many different ways, but when applied to your teacher is taken very seriosly. She introduced me to her guru and there were beautiful sparks of divine connection between us right away. I felt as though his smile shone like the sun so bright and illuminating. He was humble, and gentle, and warm, and made me feel happy, good, and comfortable right from the moment we met.
Right away it was as if student had found teacher and teacher had found student. In many eastern traditions it is beilieved that the teacher searches for the student as much, if not more, than the student looks for the teacher. To find a ripe mind eager, open, and rich with soil that is fertile and ready to grow knowledge is a great thing for a master to come across. This gives the teacher purpose and cultivates the opportunity for the knowledge to pass on, grow, and evolve!
At this point we only spoke briefly but we both knew that we would spend time delving into the things we shared in common which were many!
Right away I found out that my guru had a line of ayurvedic healing products, something which is one of the main things that drew me to India. He believed in holistic healing, and had land where healing herbs grew and were then turned into tinctures. He took one look at my face, which was broken out at the time from the filth in India and the sickness that I had been fighting, and he told me that he was going to bring me a present that would help heal me. We talked about how I had come to India to study ayurveda and yoga. As we talked a little more he told me of some of the charity work he was doing. He taught yoga to inmates at jail to help rehabilitate them. I have always had interest in using yoga as a tool for helping heal those who have strewn from the healthy path. I am facinated with yoga as a therapy which brings people back to themselves and puts them back on track to health and well being. What joy to know this amazing man had similar interests. But, I must tell you the clencher that made this man my guru more than any other factor was that he told me of how he teaches yoga to children at a local school. I had been wanting to create a yoga for children program for a long, long time. The two things in this world that I am best at are yoga, and understanding, playing with, teaching children. Just before I left for India my path brought me to a place where an opportunity became available for me to teach yoga and dance to children at an arts and community center. I was to return and start this job 4 days after my travels. One of my goals while traveling was to create this yoga for children program so that I could return, jump in to this amazing job, and bring this dream to reality. It seemed god gave me just the mentor I needed to guide me in the right direction. He was as overjoyed as I. He had not come across western yoga teachers who were offering this brilliant, ancient practice for young children. Mostly he came across those who used yoga like arobics. It seemed the student and the teacher were divinely matched.
We parted ways that day both feeling optomistic that we would soon begin the process of information sharing, training, and devotion that happens between guru and disciple.
The very next morning I awoke to my inner voice instructing me to go up and do yoga. I knew that the teacher would be the Israeli woman, but for some reason I didn't mind. My mind had no objection this time. My body was eager for the chance to do asanas.
The woman was so excited that she had found experienced students such as Sarah and I that she planned a special class to inspire us. She had just begun to read us some spiritual inspirations that she had put together in our honor when smiley, joyful Swami Umesh Yogi, our guru arrived. She was unaware that I had chosen him as my guru, as was he at this point. However, I am sure in his heart he knew it, just as I couldn't have known he had chosen me as his disciple, but in my heart I knew!
He had been so excited by our meeting the previous day he had come with the intention of teaching me that morning. From the moment he arrived she knew why he was there and a sour look swept across her face. She looked as though he was about to steal her students, and her ego was making her cheeks turn red, and her energy turned negative. My beautiful guru sang us his national anthem because that day was India's independence day. He ordered chai for all of us and began to tell us of the history of this day and it's importance.
I can slightly understand why the woman teacher felt frustrated. She had been so excited to find eager, advanced students, and she had worked hard to prepare something deep and meaningful in our honor. It is unfortunate that the stars didn't plan for us to be her students. It is unfortunate that she could not see that she was our pier and not our superior in this ancient practice and way of life. She stormed out and I became aware in that moment that this would be a rift between her and I that her ego would cling to. It saddened me that I had found a friend and lost that friend so quickly to the downfall of a bruised ego. I knew that I would spend my final two and half weeks in India, after Sarah and Cecile had gone home, here in Rishikesh. It would have been nice to have her as my pier and friend. But, in the moment when she stormed out I understood that she hated that her guru took me away from her as a student, and was to see me as a threat, as a competition, as a thief of the guru she had been devoted to, and not as a friend.
We were all a little shocked at her reaction, and for a while we awaited her return. My guru handled himself beautifully, without reaction of the ego he went on unaffected. We talked a while, and when it was clear she would not return we began yoga. His class was perfection for the moment. It was a complete blend of the history of the spiritual beliefs, the precise anceint asana practice, and a subtle meditative aspect. It was the most well rounded class I ever took. I felt like physically I worked hard, internally I was cleansed, mentally I was set free from clutter, and spiritually I was constantly tuned into the source. Mix with that the perfect amount of a history of yoga lesson that accompanied the class.
My guru also brought me the present he had promised the day before. He brought me an ayurvedic face pack, or healing mask, that was from his line of ayurvedic products. He gave me specific instrucitons on how to use it and advised me on some internal herbs I might try as well.
And that is how I met my guru. It was that simple. My inner voice guided me to him. His inner voice told him of me. We found one another. What joy. I may sound strange speaking in such a personal, deep way about someone I had just met, about a teacher, and a strange man teacher in a foreign land at that. But, I don't care how it sounds. I am sure you the reader have met people before that you were so connected to from the moment you met that you both knew that the moment was synchronous, and that you were meant to know one another. I am sure that you the reader have connected with someone on a purely divine level, lacking in sexuality or need, and full of giving and sharing! I am sure that you the reader have found at least one teacher in your life that seemed to be full of all the knowledge you sought to find.
If not, I hope you experience all of these things one day, because they are amazing!