A few hours after a curvy uphill road we arrived to McLeod Ganj. I have to thank the fact that it was quite dark so I didn’t see the road. Or how close the bus was to a cliff, ready to fall, because of the narrow road and a car coming on the opposite way at the same time the bus had to face a 180 degrees curve.
As it was dark, we didn’t realise what it was waiting for us in the morning, although we couldn’t wait to see it: beautiful sights to the Himalayas, which stand stunning in front of our balcony.
When exploring the town, it was easy to spot lots of Tibetans, all exiled and without a land. The town is definitely the least ‘Indian’ I have experienced so far. It’s quiet, not so much people just pushing you everywhere you go and even the weather is different. We thanked the chill and cooler temperatures that were implying to use blankets at night (although still better temperatures than the Irish summer, just saying). It was refreshing and bringing us a break. The landscape was inviting us to do trekking and relax enjoying the Buddhist atmosphere. And so we are.
Trekking around, we got to 2200 metres of height!
We got to join some guided meditation that was going on in one of the ashrams of the many that were around. It was a first time for me, I had never done it and to be quite honest, I don’t think it goes with my lifestyle. But like everything in this life, since you are here, why wouldn’t you give it a shot?The first day we arrived quite early, took seat (a cushion on the floor) and waited for the teacher to appear. Lots and lots of hippies would appear in the meantime and the class would end up completely full. The start was hard. The class starts at 9.30am (which means I woke up at 8am to have some breakkie and walk uphill for 30min to arrive all sweaty to this place). The first half hour the teacher would guide us to achieve a correct and comforting posture and would just focus on the posture. It was quite hard to keep awake while having my eyes closed. During the second half, he would use analytical meditation to investigate the mind and the consciousness. For this time, we would focus on analysing the consciousness and the collection of moments during our lives to finalise with the examination of the continuity of the consciousness. I have to say I left the place with a very nice relaxed feeling inside. Not quite sure if it was that I reached a half-sleep status or it truly made me feel something.
People is meditating inside. The shoes must remain outside!
So, next morning I woke up and did the same. The first class of the class didn’t change a single thing. But the second part was this time dedicated to my favourite topic ever: happiness. We were guided through the moments of our lives when we experienced happiness to analyse their duration, their cause, and to discern them from pleasures. We went further: the teacher said beautiful deep things about how every decision in our lives was leaded from this desire of happiness, true and lasting happiness and how sometimes we mistake it with pleasure. Can we make last happiness? What kinds of acts result in bringing us happiness? Why can we not make it last? And, if we repeat the same thing that brought us happiness once, does it have the same effect? The happiness feels like a bar of chocolate: we eat a piece and it feels great. But if we keep eating, we won’t feel okay. Why does this happen?
The conclusion is: Happiness only happens in the mind. It can only come from the mind and when it comes from outside us, from the body, from something or someone then, it won’t last. Because only our conscious can get to true lasting happiness.
At the same time all these things were going on during the mornings, we made a new friend whose name was Kanwar. Kanwar is a happy kind Indian man from Shimla, where his family lives. He lives most of the year here, in McLeod, while during the winter (low season) he would go to the South of India, Goa and Kerala. And why is this? Because he makes a life with massages, ayurveda and other things that I don’t really understand or believe. He moves with the seasons and try to make a life from what makes him happy. He just engaged in a chat with us and told us a lot of intersting things. He also offered to take my hand and through pressing points in my hand, he would know a few things. He told me a few things: he said I have dry skin (I thought it was quite obvious since I have a few marks in my wrists and ankles), he said I have blood pressure and circulation up and down and I was air and fire of the three elements air, fire and earth (I think it was quite obvious as well that I was about to have a black out after 30 min walking an uphill road as you’ve never seen before, of course my blood was circulating badly and up and down!) and he also said I have stomach problems and gases, which, you know, it’s been only a week in India, I don’t know about the gases but my stomach is trying hard to get used to things here! In conclusion, I don’t think he said anything new to me about my body, despite that doesn’t mean that he doesn’t know a lot about the body and I respect what he does. He knows how things are connected to others and how some parts of your body have effects on others. And He suggested that I have to get my third chakra opened. I thought that was hilarious, I suppose because it is the first time somebody says something like that to me After that, he kindly invited to his house. I looked at Sirena and I swear to God that should I had been alone I would have not gone. But I wasn’t and the man seemed the friendliest man ever in the whole Earth. Really. And there we went after a walk through the forest and a couple of stupas he showed to us.
We ended up in a place in the middle of the forest. When we entered the place (it was a room he was renting), it basically consisted of a bed, a table with a kettle and a few more kitchen objects and a line for the clothes. That was about it. The roof wasn’t a proper roof and instead, consisted of plastic bags and linen and blankets just strategically lined up. I have never seen a place more humble than this and still, it was more than clean. He made us a cup of tea and put a chair for Sirena and invited me to sit on the bed. And then he showed us the instruments he works with and we chatted about life and stuff. Then he invited us to join him to his prayers, which we did as we were super intrigued. The praying consisted in being standing in a circle with our hands taken and the eyes closed (well…I kept an eye half opened, I needed to observe what we were doing). The he started to say a reeeeeally long ooommm. I have no idea how a person can hold an ‘om’ for so long! And after two or three of those: ‘Shanti, Shanti’ And a few more words in Hindi that could mean anything. Lastly, he hugged us and said there was a connection between us and our hearts were connected now by the heart. It might sound a bit off, a bit crazy, a bit demoniac. I felt good and weird about it. Good because I couldn’t feel bad looking at this man that had so little and worked away to sustain his family and was a happy man: a truly happy person with a pure soul, a deep mind and a huge spirituality. I felt weird because I had no idea what was going on.
He left us where we agreed in the forest at the agreed time (which was a known place during daylight, basically. Survival stuff just for our own sake). On the way, he told me he felt things sometimes and he could feel that I would be a very high minded person and reach a very good position in society at the age of 28. At the beginning of the second month, to be more accurate. I answered him that I would remember it and see if this was true. Who knows! I have to say I am quite intrigued…
So far, this Indian Tibetan town has mystic airs and quite a profound spirituality developed. At times feels as Europe, at times feels as we were in another country different from India, but it is leaving me with an enormous spiritual satisfaction and a further convincement that I am where I wanted to be and that’s the best thing ever. I can’t wait to hear what the Dalai Lama has to say. We are already signed up and I’ll carry a small notebook with me to write down things I want to remember. High expectations have been set!