Thursday, September 29, 2011

Singing for Amma

An E-mail I wrote which gives a bit of insight into what's happening here:

Jonah and I are well. This place is very confusing, HOT, and trying on
a daily basis for me, though there are moments in between that are
filled with beauty and amazement too. I have really been forced to
come face to face with myself and many many different emotions and
pains from the past. This is what I came here for, though it doesn't
make it easy at times. The sunset yesterday was so spectacular! The
sun glowed pink through the dense clouds on the horizon and set into
the ocean, the sky turned all shades of orange and pink as well, and
they have these funny Eagles that look like brown seagulls from far
away. We watched them fly overhead from the 16th floor rooftop of our
building. Jonah and I sang for his Guru Amma while she was giving
Darshan (hugging people), and it was a really great experience. I sang
Apres Un Reve by Faure.... I couldn't find any other french pieces I
knew for free online anywhere! I had one morning to prepare to sing
it, but luckily the accompanist was French! So he reminded me about a
couple pronunciation things. I asked the universe to sing through me,
and to open peoples hearts. It was so powerful! We sat facing the
stage and had the audience to our backs, Bajan style, and in the
middle of the song I felt this electric energy just take over. Later
many people said that they really felt strong emotions from the
singing, and I feel that it was because of the prayer I said ahead of
time. Amma will be leaving in a few days time and we are thinking
about taking a few days to travel by train to Konyakumari (?) the tip
of south India where you can sea the oceans meet and the sunrise and
set colors to each direction!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Questions and Answers

And so we find ourselves at the computer again! After a couple of weeks struggling into a somewhat steady routine, we are maybe, somewhat close to feeling a smidge of settled "in." Meg, a good friend of Jonah's Mom has asked us some questions. A wonderful way to write a new blog post. We like these questions very much and will try to answer them according to our own unique perspectives :)~

1)What is a usual day like @ the asharm?
Jonah: I have yet to fall into the usual yet, all seems to be rather unusual, yet I am typng with a smile because underneath the current of new sorroundings an energy of love is constant. Two days ago I was carrying a friend and devotee in a wheel chair down the temple steps with some other guys, and as a step of the last step I brushed up next to a very large ELEPHANT named lakshmi. Haha not a usual encounter in my past california life. Maybe a garbage truck, but you can hear those comming, Lakshi was almost silent. Along with the Elephant experience I have had similar experiences with Cows. At the Tulasi farm (Tulasi is a highly sacred and medicinal ayurvedic herb) I was carrying buckets of compost, when I saw a beautiful white crane standing on a sweet grazing cow. India has been beyond my imagination. I have many more experinces to share and lookforward to in the days to come. As for the routine of the ashram, which I have done my best to follow thus far, and now that I have a new alarm clock will do in a more timely manner is as follows: 4:30 Wake up, pump a water bottle or two of water and bathe/wash the sleep off, 5:00 Archan (chanting of the 1000 names of the divine mother), 6:00 Chai, 6:45 Meditation or Yoga, 8:00 Breakfest, 9:30 Prayers at Tulasi garden followed by seva till 12:00 (usually heavy lifting or deep weeding!), 1:00 Lunch, 2:00-4:00 Dish Washing, 4:00-4:30 Chai (which to the residents is very important, they take their chai breaks seriously),4:30-5:30 Relaxing/reading/or rm cleaning ect, 5:45-6:45 Meditation at the beach or in the temple/hall, 6:45-7:45 Devotional singing, followed by dinner and rest/bed, On darshan days (days amma is in the hall embaracing all with a hug/blessing 7:00 is when Whitney and I sit on the stage next to Amma)... I hope you are all not to tierd now after reading this meticulous schedual, forgive me just thought you may be interested in the exact details!

Whitney: Every single day has been different for me. That's why the "sort of routine" remarks earlier. I go through roller coasters emotionally, where in the morning sometimes I have gotten up at 4:30AM and went to Archana (devotional chanting), and then later in the evening I am exhausted and crash. Some days we've done meditation classes, or yoga (like today), and those are usually uplifting. It seems that here at the ashram everything has more weight to it, words, thoughts, deeds, everything is like moving through quicksand. The heat makes it more difficult to move, the sounds, the bustle of people who look at you funny and you have no idea if they are laughing for joy or at the silly foreigners. It can be a bit much, but I expected something like this. It's India, I was warned.
2)Will you be traveling with Amma, or is she even There?
Jonah: (Out of time in the computer room...Be back soon!)

Whitney: Amma is here, and we won't be traveling with her when she leaves to Europe, though her Birthday is on Tuesday... Going to be nuts here!
3)Do you do any community service stuff?

Whitney: Lots, and LOTS of seva service. I am really happy doing work in the Tulsi herb garden. Dishes everyday, not so enthused about.
4)Are you cooking your own food @ the ashram?

Whitney:We have a stove but have yet to cook with it. Mostly boiling water for tea.
5)Do you go the local market.

Whitney:I want to go to the market. It's called "The B.S. Market" which I think is funny.
6)Where on the map are you guys???

Whitney:Kerala, South Western coast, very south, and the town is Amritapuri.

We love you all so dearly, thank you for your support, we send our gratitude and deepest heartfelt smiles back to all!

Jonah and Whitney

Friday, September 9, 2011

The Great Escape

Hello dear friends and loved ones!
I'm sure many of you have been a wee bit anxious to hear how our travels to India have gone. We would like to let you all know that Jonah and I (Whitney) are safely tucked away in Amrithapuri, Kerala, at Amma's Ashram. I will not say that we have not had some trials or a few snafus. We'd like to take a moment to share a bit of our own experiences of India and Ashram life so far.

Whitney: The trip to India was an adventure all in itself. We landed in Hong Kong, China, and had a couple hours to switch planes. Thank goodness for that, because we had such a hard time locating the departure gate. Then upon finding the gate I realized I had misplaced my Ipod. The Ipod I had promised everyone (Dad especially), that I would use to skype with. I was definitely freaking out a bit. It had been left on the previous flight, and the Singapore Airlines crew was so amazing and helpful. They returned it just before boarding. I AM LUCKY!
The next stop was in Singapore, and WOW I really liked it there. I could see myself going there to vacation easily. The airport had 3 terminals, two hotels inside, and and assortment of spas, including one where fish will clean your feet.... Very Asian!
We booked a room for 6 hours and slept right passed our wakeup time. Luckily we did not miss our flight. Did I mention the people of Singapore are beautiful? They really are, and the flight attendants of the airline had really neat outfits. We now know why it's such a highly rated airline, they even hand out hot towels throughout the flight, and each passenger gets three choices for each meal.
SO India... I will try to make this breif. Confusing and tiny airport, walked to the hotel... Big mistake. Got lost. Hotel had no confirmation of room. Taxi from Ashram showed up at 1AM instead of PM next day due to military time error. Scariest nightime drive of three hours I have EVER had in my life. AND sleeping on the airmattress/floor, water issues, spicy food, pretty elephants, community dogs, and ocean breeze with crashing waves through our 13th floor barred window. That kind of sort of gives a little indication of my experience here so far. OH AND Not as many mosquitos as Alaska! Though bugs of many variety are EVERYWHERE. Yep.

Jonah: Flip Flop Flip Flop , "should we walk?" "Okay lets save a few hundred rupees!" "Its only 1 Kilometer away!" A blanket of dark humid air enveolpes use as whitney begins to recall Georgia in the summer time. "Look hun a cow, wow!" :I think we should ask someone for directions"
"Okay hun!" Focus on your mantra jonah all will be well and safe.

And so it was our expectatins were turned upside down and around and around again. Yet underneath it all a peace flowed throughout and I began to understand that on this journey through this land called India one must go within in because the external world is always in a constant shift. Out of time...(6 computers at an Ashram of over several thousand! I will continue again... Om Namaha Shivaya Whitney and I love you all so dearly, you are in our hearts.