India / Southeast Asia

Monsoon Reflections

It has been an ongoing lesson for me to be in India during monsoon. It rains nearly every day, the laundry never fully dries, and on more than one occasion I’ve been fully drenched from head to toe walking just a few feet between buildings; but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

The monsoon rain washes everything in its path down the street sometimes in a flow of water two feet deep—the cow patties from the alleys, the garbage, the dirt. The color of the Ganga is brown from the silt and sand stirred up in her powerful waves. The rain is unforgiving and incredibly forceful. On more than one occasion I’ve seen the full body of a cow float under the bridge and down the Ganga’s waters.

The rain reminds me that I need not stress about the minutiae of daily life, relive regrets of the past, or hopelessly imagine a future over which I have no control. My concerns are small against the universal forces of nature. In many places, not far from here, the monsoon forcefully determines the lives of people in village communities and can both create and destroy. In reality, all of us are just small pieces of this world and although we are also a part of nature, we do not control it. This season of cleansing impacts us all.

I feel this yoga training transforming me internally in the same way the monsoon waters do in Rishikesh —it is also a kind of washing away, a cleansing. We spend our days relearning the most seemingly simple parts of life: sitting, breathing, being quiet, and listening. It sounds really easy, but it’s quite a challenge coming from societies that have taught us to value busyness and constant movement and spend many hours of work at a desk or on a phone. This month, we are relearning to breath properly, deeply into the diaphragm like we did when we were babies in a way that gives vital energy to our bodies. We practice sitting with straight spines in a cross-legged position long enough to still some of the fluctuations of our mind. And we practice our postures so we can be steady and comfortable in our meditation.

Throughout this process, we unlearn habits that have accumulated overtime: picking up our phone at every opportunity, constantly running through to-do lists in our minds, worrying about what others think, and collecting things we don’t need. Like the monsoon, our yoga practice washes these things away, cleaning the pathway so we can appreciate the goodness around us and within us.

The sun came out yesterday just in time for the sunset. The colors were so brilliant after three days of rain. I couldn’t help but feel gratitude for lessons from the monsoon.

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