Man, this place is sick. I mean, terminal. I can't really believe that this retreat center is in India. It seems like a romanticized hollywood version of India. Not that I am complaining...
I have to admit, there are challenges to this situation, as ideal as it is.
Mysore has a certain energy to it. It is in India, so it is hectic by nature. But also, the shala has its own energy. It is less chaotic, but still very intense, almost rajasic. So many people coming throughout the day and working so hard, processing so much physically, mentally, energetically. This energy is a little overwhelming at first (at least it was for me). It was exhausting to be confronted with it constantly. But over time I adjusted. Existing at this high frequency becomes the norm and I learned (though not consciously) to use the vibration to power my practice and the rest of my days.
Goa, Purple Valley more specifically, is the opposite. It is beyond calm and serene. It is quiet (seriously, no honking car horns), it is clean (actually pretty clean, even by western standards). Megan and I have been passing each other strolling down palm tree lines paths to the juice bar, pool, or ayurveda hut grinning like children on Christmas morning. "Don't make me go back to India!" I begged the first time I saw her after our arrival. This environment has made me aware of how mellow life can be. It is refreshing and soothing to have a respite from the chaos of India and the intensity of the Shala.
But we are still here to practice. As Jill would say, we're here to do our work.
In many ways, practicing with Tim and Kino is more intense. Maybe the space doesn't embody the intensity of the shala in Mysore, but as a student I am getting adjustments and advice in most poses, rather than only the ones I am struggling with. On top of that I am working, assisting Kino and Tim, adjusting (physically demanding) and being present (mentally and emotionally demanding) for as many of the the 60 practitioners as I can hold in my awareness for almost 2 hours before
I practice. Around 7:10 Kino usually grabs my attention and says "You practice now!" and I unroll my mat.
As I finished assisting my 100th Uttitha Hasta Padangusthasana of the morning I realized the time, glanced at Kino for the usual nod to shift gears and thought, "yeah... I'll get right on that." I felt more like going into the changing room and taking a nap.
After 2 months in Mysore, skipping potential rest days to maximize my time with Sharath, traveling on a rest day (*see Goa Express for details) to spend as much time as possible with Kino and Tim, assisting and practicing every day in a considerably more tamasic environment, I am finding myself drained. Even the social environment of the retreat center, living in close quarters with so many (lovely) people, and finding myself again in the (mini) role of "teacher" is hard! and exhausting.
It is Saturday, our "rest" day. Everyone is heading out of the compound to experience India (as much as you can in the European Goa... I say, if you can wear mini shorts and a tank top, it doesn't really count ;). At breakfast everyone was discussing their plans for the day, asking what I am up to. Well, with nearly 3 months of non-stop traveling (aside from 10 days of Vipassana to wreck my head) ahead of me, I am pleased to do nothing. To read my book and sit by the pool. To enjoy these last few moments of tranquility before launching into the madness of nomadicism that I have been gearing up for since June.
and I love it. I am exactly where I want to be.