Simplicity & Tradition…by Fiona Stang

Sept. 18, 2018

We arrived in Goa yesterday morning to a beautiful sunset viewed from the airplane window. It is so nice to be back in India. The simple pleasures of life are felt here.  The mundane task of folding the clean and hot clothes from the clothing line outside provides another moment of simplicity and strangely, great appreciation of clean, crisp clothing that dries so quickly in the Indian sun. The days slow down here and are never filled with too many tasks. Compared to Vancouver, it is HOT.  And downtime is mandatory. That is one of the joys of having a sabbatical. This is a time to move inward, slow things down, and just arrive.

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This morning’s practice was magical. As I walk to the Shala the sounds of the forest and of the jungle surrounded me. Birds, peacocks, and so many other animals and insects filled the air with a chorus of sound. The outside sky was still dark when we arrived at the shala. After sitting, Sharmila Desai chanted in and practice began. I practiced as the light arrived into the day and the light from the sky filled the room. Jungle greenery greets my eyes and provides an extension of drishti – natural drishti.  The shala is quiet and the energy, was profound and deep and very, very still. It is so nice to be back in India feeling the nourishment of Mother India right from her roots. Practicing in Sharmila Desai’s Shala is like re-integrating into nature. The roots of Mother India are felt just as strongly as the roots of the ashtanga lineage are felt. The walls of the shala are filled with photos of the Jois family and reminders of this great tradition of practice.

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Yesterday evening was the Ganesha Chaturthi celebration. Sharmila, myself and our children all walked down to the beach on a bumpy dirt road.   Morjim beach is a beautiful, large and expansive beach. They were very few tourists and very few people when we arrived. However with time, many families started started arriving carrying their family Ganesha statues in cars or sometimes balanced on their heads. Over the course of a couple hours, the families lined up their family statue along the beach.  By the end there must have been over a hundred Ganesha statues. Offerings of food, incense, and flowers embellished the statues. As the sun began to set, there was a procession of the Ganesha statues down to the beach where they were washed, symbolic of cleansing away all impurities. Ganesha is the remover of obstacles.

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At that point,  after a very long day for Viveka and I (we arrived in Mumbai just after midnight and had been awake since),  we walked back to our homes and settled down for our first nights sleep in Morjim.

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