Self-practice, at last. This morning was the first of the season. I think everyone, myself included, was really looking forward to it.
Though this is my 5th day at Gokulam and 3rd practice day at the shala, for the most part, it continues to feel unreal. It seems almost an impossibility that I was here last year. More so that I am back for more!
And while I've been excited many times over, nothing has quite captured me the way pretty much everything had on my first trip a year ago. The newness of the place and the first time experience of the shala cannot be duplicated, of course. My senses are not so assaulted as my first taste of India. Everything, thank goodness, has been calm and easy, if not a little lacking of that excitement that comes with inexperience.
I am far from disappointed. There is this beautiful pace and ease to this second trip. Its not the whirlwind of activity that typified my first month in Mysore, instead its steady, like meeting an old friend and knowing that ahead of us is this nice long visit (4 month-long this time).
I noted the sensation coming into the shala this morning for my 5:30am start time. I understood the process. It didn't rattle me to see the lobby filled with people. I calmly noted the mass of students, mentally distinguishing the throng before me, and waited patiently for my turn as I crocheted myself a hat for when it gets colder. I moved up towards the door. I put away my soon to be hat as I got closer, anticipating for my "One more" from Sharath. I noted who was getting dropped back, so that I would know where I would go when my time arrived. It was smooth, seamless, comfortable. Thus, went my practice.
It was when I had come up from my last back bend that I had my A-ha! moment. It was like a light turned on in my head, re-illuminating the reason why I was here in the first place.
A happy surprise, Sharath was there the moment I came up. He instructed me to drop back on my own three times. Then returned to rock me three times. On the last, he talked me to my heels, supporting me ever so gently. I relaxed despite a month and a half of very light back-bending. My practice hasn't been what it should be, I'd been traveling and whatnot. But here I was, heart being pried open again, eased back into a place of surrender and vulnerability.
"Very good," Sharath said before pressing me into paschimattanasana and leaving me to my thoughts.
I smiled to realize that this trip is not about being awed and wooed by the shala or by India. I'm here already. I've rearranged my life to make the return happen not to feel the extraordinariness of Mysore but to do my practice, to be with my teacher, to continue to have my body/mind/and heart slowly pried open, the absolute miracle of daily patient practice.