Meditating in India

Below is an excerpt from Tina’s November 3rd ‘Happy Diwali!’ blog post about her experience meditating in the Vasishta Cave in India.

Our driver pulls off along the side of the road and motions toward a staircase. “Cave,” he says in broken English. “Down there.” So down we go – to a small Ashram. A man is praying outside of the arrow that points to the cave. There is a sign that explains that Vasishtais one of the 2 immortal sages. He and his wife Arundhati spent several years here in seclusion and deep meditation. It is believed that because of their dedication and Enlightenment, most people feel a profound sense of peace once in the cave. Sounds good to me.

We walk over to the door and it is pitch black, except for a small altar up ahead, that is at the end of the cave. I pull out my handy iPhone flashlight app and light our way through the short low ceilinged hallway. To my surprise, a monk is meditating to the side of the altar, so I douse the light and we both sit down. Our plan was to stay for 12 minutes of meditation, and I would set my handy iPhone world clock timer. My Teacher Trainees know that I am a big fan of using timers for meditation, to alleviate the need to worry about the time allotted. Well, it certainly seems like bad manners to set a timer in this cave, so I promise myself to simply enjoy the meditation and check the time when it “feels” like about 12 minutes. As I find Sukhasana, my seated meditation posture, I immediately drop into a deep state of meditation. Deeper in meditation than I have been in a long time. It’s amazing. My heart feels completely open and my energy body feels like it is humming in synchronicity with the entire Universe. I begin with Kubera mudra – the god of wealth who must be the counterpart to Lakshmi, wealth’s goddess, but soon find my hands in Pushpunjali – the gesture of Apraigraha or Abundance (non-grasping). My hands feel full, and then I gently pull them apart and feel myself letting go of that which I do not need to hold any longer. Then they fill again, and I release again. After a while, they feel like they are overflowing without end and I am filled with gratitude. I am reminded of a line by Lalla, the 14th century female poet from Nothern India:

Meditate within eternity.
Don’t stay in the mind.

At some point two men come in and offer puja to the image of Shiva. They kneel in front of the altar, bow, annoint the lingum on the altar with water, and back out. We continue to sit for a few more minutes – the meditation is so intense that I can hardly be distracted. It is stronger than any distraction my mind can create……except for the distraction of wondering if Susan is okay and remembering that I am in charge of the time! I pull myself away and look. It’s been over 25 minutes. Twice the time we agreed upon! I feel the energy one more time, and smile at Susan. We both get up and find our way easily back to the entrance, as the tunnel now seems much more bright. She smiles at me and says that she too had an amazing meditation experience. She was sending metta (kindness) to her family and her meditation also felt full and abundant. Neither could she believe that it had been 25 minutes! Our first gift of Diwali!

Tina Romenesko, PYT/RYT, is a Professional Yoga Therapist and Teacher at INVIVO Wellness. She has been studying and practicing yoga for over 30 years. Her focus is on the therapeutic potential of yoga to heal body, mind and spirit. You can read more about Tina’s adventures in India on her blog, Yogatina.