Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Dharamsala - Relax Just a Little More!

Dharamsala - a pleasant few weeks

I completed a ten day meditation course while in Dharamsala. It was both a meditation course and an Intro to Buddhism course. While learning about the dharma and 4 Noble truths, we sat inside a decorative and symbolic monastery for 45 minute meditation sessions. Not only were the meditations memorable, but the pain in my legs also remained long after arising from the sitting lotus position. After ten or twenty minutes, however, my legs would fall asleep and I simply let the pain subside - not physically, but mentally. This is part of what I learned through mediation - how to deal with pain, or in Buddhism, suffering. I never thought that relaxing would be such a struggle. During the course, we took a stroll to see some stupas in the surrounding areas. A stupa is a type of shrine set up for a memorable guru or lama. The stupa we visited was the burial place for one of the teachers of the current Dalai Lama. He was cremated, and the stupa was built upon his ashes. The picture above is the area near the stupa, which is coated with prayer flags by passerbys like us. As a group, we too, put up some prayer flags.
To celebrate the joyous yet frustrating 10 day course, some of us attended a local Indian concert with a light yet jubilant tone of music. There were those singing and playing the Indian bongos. This was also my first experience with a live suitar, which was played with much delight. The crowd, though silent, let the music sink in and take over.
One day was spent on a casual and relatively short hike to some nearby waterfalls. This was a nice change of pace, ecscaping the crowds and again, finding solace within nature. As if the meditation course was not relaxing enough, I continued on this relaxing run and let this momentum lead me to more nature. Some decide to sit at a distance and gaze at the natural wonders, and some like to get wet. I stripped down, reluctantly leaving my underwear on due to the small crowd gathering and hopped in - but slowly. Again, this Himilayan river water is really cold. I started by simply placing my feet in, then lower body, and finally, after not being fully ready, submerged head and body. I quickly swam to the base of the waterfall and allowed the thunderous onslaught of water pound upon my head, receiving a feeling of intense yet terse blissfulness. I recommend waterfall baths to anyone, it's the best feeling in the world!
Another evening graced us with some musical dance parties. This time a family from Rajastan journeyed their way to Dharamsala to generate a nice drum circle. Some danced, some drank, some did both, and the rest simply relaxed!

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