It is now 4 months since I arrived in India. January seems like an age ago and it feels like I have been here forever. My plan had been 3 months here & see what it leads to……hmmmm! When I arrived the ashram was very busy getting ready for Amma’s South India Tour, then it was really quite for a few weeks with so many people away for the tour. Mid-February the numbers had swelled again as the tour returned and then March numbers started to gradually dwindle as new visitors were no longer allowed into the ashram. Mid-March we were only allowed to go out of the ashram for essentials – the bank or pharmacy – but we could still go across the road to the beach. Then complete lockdown, across the whole of India. The ashram closed its doors completely to all but supplies. Over the last month there’s been a further dwindling of numbers as people take repatriation flights back to their home countries.
I now haven’t been out of the ashram for 2 whole months. Fortunately, the ashram is large enough that there is space for everyone to move around – maybe not with a 2metre distance – and there is sunshine, amazing views over the backwaters and to the sea and we have delicious food (I haven’t cooked a meal in 4 months!). Whilst I can’t go anywhere I am not considering myself ‘stuck’ here. Anything but. I feel very blessed indeed to be here at this time. Amma normally has a very busy tour schedule and is not usually at the ashram for long periods of time so to have this time is truly a gift. I have been learning loads, being completely immersed in Eastern philosophy, the Bhagavad Gita and vedanta and also finishing off my Psychology and Philosophy degree with the Open University – thankyou coronavirus for my end of module assignments being cancelled! Lockdown gave me time to focus on my last two assignments over April.
Ashram life is not all love and light – whilst that is what everyone is aspiring to, every day in the ashram brings you something to work on! Someone to challenge your inner peace, situations to see how you react/respond! There are plenty of opportunities for self-development. I’ve shared a room for most of the time here and not every roommate has seen me as a gift from the universe, likewise I’ve not seen every roommate as a gift from the universe either! There’s also the uninvited roommates – bees, mosquitos, moths, geckos – to contend with! And the heat. It has been beautifully sunny but hot, and now the rainy season is definitely here. Mother nature has been treating us to fantastic lightening shows most evenings, but now they are accompanied by torrential downpours, and they are becoming more frequent. The downpours don’t last too long but a whole lot of water leaks out of the sky in that short time, and they are becoming more frequent. I can see why Kerala is so green and lush. Of course, after the downpour everything becomes humid – if you didn’t get soaked in the rain you’ll soon be soaking from the humidity after. With that amount of rain it takes a little while for it to drain away so some wading is required too! It’s great to see and experience the change in season and weather. I don’t think I ever would have chosen to come to Kerala during the wet months!
I’m missing teaching and coaching. Trying to find ways in which I can share some teaching online, however, struggling to find a place where I could film from. My internet connection isn’t very stable either to be able to run an online class – guaranteed to have you holding plank for more than a few breaths, I’m not sure anyone is going to appreciate that! I am still exploring though so watch this space.
I’m not sure how long I will be here for – Lockdown across India has been extended until the end of May. There’s speculation of international flights starting back up in June – but who knows! The Indian Government is extending visas for 30 days from when international flights resume, fortunately I haven’t needed to go through the visa extension process, so far – some people are on their third visa extension process! It looks like I will be here for at least another month or 2!
Despite all the uncertainty I feel very content here. It has its own craziness but it feels like being in a bubble from the rest of the craziness of the world. We don’t know what the world will look like a week from now let alone in 6 months time but one thing is for sure – we need to get used to living with uncertainty. Nothing is permanent, nothings stays the same for very long and we are seeing that more than ever now. Being in the present moment and acting with compassion are therefore essential. It’s how we should be but I know how difficult it can be, especially when there is so much fear around. So we have to put in the practice, witness our thoughts and weed out the negative and destructive ones, adopt a mindset of curiosity rather than judgement when you do spot those negative and destructive thoughts. Let go of the ego that wants to control so you can be more open and allow for the good stuff that is there underneath all of the madness.