Archive for the ‘Culture’ Category

Eat, Pray, Love, Love, Love

Last night I saw the movie Eat, Pray, Love, based on the Elizabeth Gilbert book.  At first, this had been a film that was a definite ‘yes’ on my list of films “to see”, and then I read some pretty relevant criticisms of the film and thought, maybe not.

When I was living in Sweden and going through a deep personal crisis full of isolation, depression, over-eating and the start of a yoga practice, my best friend mailed me this book.  It was one of the best gifts I’ve ever received because it was so timely and, being rather unaware of the depths of my state, it was a very intuitive gift from her.  I read it, bead-by-bead, mostly in the bathroom (where much of my breakdown took place), and it soothed my stress knowing that I was not the only woman with many of these feelings. It also brought laughter and a sense of lightness to a very dark time.

The criticisms of the movie were that it depicted a flimsy American woman, overly-dramatic about her divorce, gallivanting freely around Italy, India, and Indonesia as though that is what these countries are set-up for – to accommodate needy, empty Americans searching for something outside of themselves.  When I read the critiques I imagined how that was so, and even after seeing the movie, the criticisms are still relevant.  Nonetheless, it is a movie, entertainment, and for that purpose, I loved it.

The Italy scenes made my heart thump so loud in my chest, giving my whole body goosebumps for longer than any movie has.  It brought back an adoration of the culture, and a sense of awe at the ancient infrastructure that I first felt on my own European escape.  Her desire to know herself and her confession of an incapacity to listen put me right back in my Swedish apartment.  I laughed and cried, and thought “Crazy, this is so me!”.  How many other woman were thinking this too?  It doesn’t matter, the more the merrier.  (Although I am very curious so please let me know if you also share a deep similarity with this character).  Even with my small taste of Ashram life I could see a few cultural errors, but her experience with meditating would ring true to anyone who attempts a regular meditation practice.

In the end, it was a light-hearted romantic comedy just like 50 First Dates, My Best Friend’s Wedding etc.  A distinction that it deserves is that it is particularly relevant to many woman at this moment of social evolution where a greater consciousness is emerging.  That is evident in the literary field (ie. The Secret being a top seller), the growing yoga/meditation/alternative healing industry, and a society expressing a need for more meaning in their lives.  I’d be so happy if everyone were able to adopt this mantra and just eat, pray and love.  What do you think about the book, the movie or my review?

Week #4 in the Ashram: Escapes and Exams

Shortly after writing the week 3 post of my Ashram experiences, Dylan arrived at the Ashram and we escaped early Saturday morning to attend a dear friend’s wedding in Haliburton, Ontario.  Lots of driving, little sleep, a sip of wine, black tea and sugar (all things I had not been exposed to for 3 weeks) made for an interesting 24 hours out of the ashram.

Upon returning to the Ashram, everyone wanted to know “what it was like” (returning to what some call ‘reality’).  To be honest, it felt normal.  I didn’t feel like 3 weeks was long enough to get so used to Ashram life that outside life would feel strange.  It was the sugar, poor quality sleep, tea and driving that made me feel terribly hungover on Sunday….and every day since I have left the Ashram.

Our final week of our Yoga Teacher Training Course was pretty much our standard schedule of meditations, chanting, yoga and lectures, with some practice teaching and a few ceremonies.  I was initiated into a mantra so that I now have a designated mantra that I can repeat while meditating and also while walking, driving, cleaning etc.  On Saturday morning we wrote a 3 hour exam and then a bunch of us went to help prepare the evening Indian feast in the kitchen for 200 people.  Dylan and I were given the task of preparing the Sambar.  Well, we chopped the vegetables and stirred the pot as the chef tossed in the ingredients. 

Finally, on Saturday evening we all graduated.  There are now 26,000 Sivananda certified Yoga teachers in the world, I am number 25, 998.

Week 3 of Ashram Life

This week started off with a huge Hindhu festival called Kavadi.  We were expecting 20,000 people to attend, but we think the numbers were closer to 10,000 and it wasn’t as crazy as we thought it would be.  However, there was definitely still some crazy things, like the hooks in this man’s back:There are strings attached to the hooks which another man holds on to when they dance.  These men dance for 4-5 hours in a parade of a chariot around the temple.  The man have been preparing for this event in advance with meditations, fasting etc. so that they enter a trance on the day of Kavadi and do not feel pain and do not bleed when the hooks are inserted.  You can see them dancing in the photo below:

The festival was full of food, music, worship and pretty saris, so here are some more photos:

And while there is much more happening at the Ashram (not including 4 hours of yoga, 1 hour of meditation and 6 of chanting and lectures daily) and in my practice, I will just share a few more photos for now, perhaps some stories next post.

I will have better photos when my camera arrives this week, these are just from my phone.  Onto the final week of my life in the ashram, I can’t believe I’ve been here for 3 weeks and while one week seems short, I have a feeling some of the hours of these 7 days will feel like forever.  Bring on Scorpion pose.