Once I had all my travel arrangements completed, I could relax a moment and take in that I was really going to India. This was in February 2012. Friends who had traveled and lived in India shared stories and gave me books to read. I had a stack of about 10-12 books on history, destinations, food, etc., even two novels that reflected some of the cultural-social aspects of India.
But nothing could prepare me for the experience that I had once I arrived in Thiruvananthapuram, India.
From the point of pick-up at the airport to the point of return, the hours and days were filled with grace. I felt “at home” almost immediately, though I had never been to India before. I believe that it was all from grace and the grace that pours from Swami Nirmalananda that created the experience. Everything flowed even when it wasn’t planned a certain way. The flow seemed to be a natural part of the experience: to allow what is and to be in the moment, in each moment. We were partially cocooned in the Ayurvedic center, being cared for and treated by the Ayurvedic doctor and the practitioners of the various forms of Ayurvedic therapy. We were fed healthy, Ayurvedic foods at every meal, and we had lots of time to wander out into the various towns and temples nearby. Whether we were in the city, at the southern-most point of India, or at the Beach and Lake Resort, there was always a sense of peace that seemed to pervade my experiences.
I struggle to find words and to find a way to describe the indescribable internal experience of just being in India and to be there with someone who is so steeped in the experience of India as is Swami Nirmalananda. When we left the resort area and went into town, there was a palpable rhythm. It might seem as though everything is chaotic and there are no rules to driving and walking, yet the people all seem to be comfortable in what a Western mind might view as chaotic and out of control. Motorbikes with two adults and maybe two children on board, small cars filled to capacity zipping in and out and between cars… yet, it felt safe and it felt “normal”. I just watched and took it all in and did not feel as though it was crazy; it just looked that way.
Reflecting on the trip and experience, it was all the people who made the experience so memorable. The staff at the resort, the local children who would come out and greet us as we walked to temple, all the people seemed so comfortable looking right into my eyes and greeting me. Gratitude radiated from the faces of those who were treated at the free Muktananda Ayurvedic Clinic a short walking distance from the resort, their hands at their heart, and eyes looking right at us… so grateful for the help that they are receiving. It is so natural for them to look directly at another and to acknowledge each other. The experience opens the heart.
I was so glad that I made the commitment to go to India. The experience of a small part of the country and of the people will always be in my heart.
by Chudala Darling