play above music while reading me please:
I am writing this because I am partly still mad that I didn’t write “Eat, Pray, Love”. I mean, I had a guru long, long before that book came out. I might just be a better writer (I know, that’s pretty bold to say when my blog is largely about boobs and other very high intellectual subject matter, to date). I love to eat and can talk about that all day long. I love Italy. Who doesn’t? And….I do consider myself a former connoisseur of the European lover. That means…I certainly enjoyed many crushes on Eurotrash in my youth. Anyway, she wrote it and it became a movie. Did the book touch me? No. Did the movie touch me? Even less. I did enjoy watching Antonio Banderas. But that’s a whole different subject.
I have had a Swami damn it before you did! I can even write the follow up book on “Commitment”!!
Many years back, I was in pain. Lots and lots of pain. I loved this guy and we were in some very tortured relationship where we fought ALL THE TIME. Nothing helped. I couldn’t stay. I couldn’t leave. And when I finally did….it was more and more pain. Therapy just made me crazy. Crazier. Okay….this alone could be the subject matter of a post.
The therapist kept always asking me…”now what was your part in…”. So if he did something extremely abusive (emotionally), I would have to analyze why I deserved it by my behavior rather than empowering me to hear my own voice which was screaming “NO, no, no, this is wrong with a capital W”… and “GET OUT NOW” with a capital….N? By the time I left that therapist and that guy I was exhausted from the analysis and confused as to how you could love someone and simply not get along anyway. And I was very much tangled up in my head. Therapy in my “mind” was a questionable process. Seemed to make me worse.
I was searching for something. But what?
I overheard some girls talking one day about this meditation book. Now this was in the late 80s, early 90s. Take that Elizabeth Gilbert. You weren’t even born then. (Did I just date myself?) They sounded enchanted. Meditation always seemed so mystical and interesting. But elusive. Again, remember this was the 80s…and 90’s. I had lived in Aspen. Sat in sweat lodges, fasted, skin brushed, applied crystals and reflexologied my feet and cleansed my colon long before all of you were born. I was mystically connected to Shirley McClaine as not only did I se TURNING POINT 12 times, but I read all her books and had met her on some Astral Plane (in my dreams). I could do this!
I asked these gals what they were reading and they referred me to a book called “WHERE ARE YOU GOING?” by Swami Muktananada. I went out and bought the book right away. I’m pretty sure this is the same movement or lineage that Gilbert was affiliated with but I am not sure. In any event…the book explained meditation and said that Kudalini needed to be awakened to calm the mind. (Please understand this is a very loose translation of the book and I haven’t read it in 15 years and this is not a book review but a story of how I came to meet what was my Swami). What appealed to me about this, in my simple, but ever busy brain, was this simple explanation as to why my brain wouldn’t stop – I needed a real Guru who would give me this thing called “shakipat”. Once I got it, my mind would be quiet. Ah!
This Kundalini awakening could come from a Guru by glance, word, mantra or touch. Apparently, this happened to some people magically just by seeing a photo of a Guru! I can digress into a more philosophical discussion of this process but, for our purposes here, I just want to focus on the aspect of it I was interested in – it sounded like a shortcut to enlightenment. In modern terms: An icon I could click to get the app to quiet the mind. Cool. I’m in.
Where do I find that Guru? I went back to these gals and asked them…So, do you have the guru? Oh yes. You just go to this place and she is there. Okay. I’m going go to check this out.
So on an early Sunday morning I forced myself out of my bed and to an area in the airport business center. I thought it would look more like a Temple. It looked like a storage locker. But I smelled Champa right away. Never smelled it before. It was amazing. I was greeted by a woman who vaguely reminded me of someone I would meet in church on Sunday. In other words, the same idea, different location. A devotee type. We went into a room with a few people. There they played a video of a female Guru surrounded by a gazillion devoted blessed out people chanting this long, long (did I say LONG) non-repetitive chant called the “GURU GITA”. I asked myself, who gets up at 6 a.m. on a Sunday to chant the Guru Gita other than someone really nuts or really in a lot of pain.
But, I must say, this Indian woman was absolutely beautiful. I thought, this is funny. This woman is like the Halle Berry of Indian woman. A perfect American image for the alleged beauty of enlightenment. I wondered would people feel this drawn to her if she was toothless and had some deformities? I mean, we are talking really, really, lovely looking person sitting in front of her devotees looking peaceful and calm (and out of Banana Republic India Catalogue). I am venturing to say that all if I looked that good and had all those peeps hanging around to see me I might be pretty blissed out too? And popular.
But truthfully, I found this super weird too. I mean, come on, a video? I am supposed to get enlightened and feel something from a video?
Did I feel the shakitpat? No. Did I feel anything at all? Not really, I couldn’t feel my legs as they fell asleep a while back.
Anyway, I was still curious. Everyone else seemed convinced, right? Maybe I was missing something. Much of my youth was spent in this state of “everyone else feels…why not me?” After the chanting ended (finally) I was offered homemade Chai. Again, you gotta realize this was way before Starbucks. This was before you could commercially get Chai ANYWHERE. And this was the real deal with cardamom and black tea and cream and sugar. And on a cold morning after sitting in some bad position for an hour it was absolute heaven. So guess what? I went back a few times. For the smell of that incense (which I bought) and the taste of the Chai (yum) and I bought books very time I went. I read and read and read – hoping if my brain understood shakitpat my enlightenment would follow. But I still felt neither connection to the hot guru nor any calming of the minds. Still I was in search of Shaktipat. (See Chapter 2) — I must go take the chillin’s to soccer. Stay tuned for Chapter 2 on “In search of Shakitpat”
I must and that I was writing this my 8 year old accidentally hit a button on the ipad and it played the soundtrack to EAT, PRAY, LOVE. Which you should go forth and buy and listen to while reading this— its fantastic.
here is the link:
here is a recipe for simple chai:
4 whole cloves
2 cardamom pods, crushed and lightly roasted
1 cinnamon stick, broken into pieces
1 piece ginger, about the size of a small grape, peeled and chopped
1/8 teaspoon black peppercorns, ground
2 cups milk
2 cups water
2 tablespoons Turbinado sugar
2 tablespoons black tea (preferably Assam)