A Dream

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In Bodhgaya, I dreamt of peace.

I dreamt that everyone is precious, that everyone carries love through the world, kept warm in the safety of our abdomens. If we could only remember this, we would not walk down the street so afraid. I dreamt that love finds those who give themselves to love, those who surrender to love, those who collapse into love, those who feast on love for breakfast and bandage their wounds with love, who wrap themselves in love to sleep and crack love like a firecracker onto the street. I dreamt that illness is a blessing which returns the mind and body to the heart. I dreamt that stillness is as sacred as an ecstatic dance, and discomfort is a teacher with no eyes or ears, but hands to take, as we feel the knowledge through the mingling of pulses. I dreamt that confusion is an opportunity for clarity, that greed is an opportunity for humility, that terror is a joke, that fright can turn to delight in an instant, that we perpetually blind ourselves by seeing with our practiced thought patterns instead of the fertile earth pits of our hearts in which anything can grow.

Why lament your eventual or pending death when, in the universe’s eye, you are already dead, and dying even as you live? Your freedom of will and movement and heart over the sadism and masochism of the fevered modern mind constitute the preciousness of your sentient human life.

This dream gave me comfort as the full moon rose over Bodhgaya, as random street children smeared fuschia and emerald powder into my cheeks during Holi, as I sat between palm trees in the desert in Sujata and watched the sunset and ached for Michigan, as I feasted on precious dates and coconut, as I watched Buddhist monks breathe slowly through the pain of repeated mosquito stings, as I moved through yoga asanas in the morning sun, as I thanked a chef for a plate of rice, as I watched the sun rise and spill its mandarin juice over roof tops, barbed wire and the flanks of peaceful cows.

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This dream held up my breath as we traveled to Agra and I was violently ill for hours on the train while surrounded by sweating, puff-bellied Indian men who stared eagerly up at me with arousal for my helpless state. As I was treated by a senile Indian doctor at a private clinic in Delhi who couldn’t remember what month it was, nor hear the letters to spell my name, and who was confused as to why I was distressed, and tried to cheat me out of the standard consultation fee by hiding the fee sign after I’d seen it.

This dream blossomed on my shoulders as we walked through the gardens at the Taj Mahal and basked in early morning sunshine, entranced by exotic birds and white marble, by the care which the staff took for the plants and grounds, by the centuries-old dream which arose out of a terribly poor region like a joke, or a memory, which shone in lopsided contrast to the corruption and flies outside of the main gates.

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This dream wrapped itself around me as I lay sick in Delhi, as I slept with my heart as full of India as it could be, as we bought our tickets to Tel Aviv and as we strolled gently through the New Delhi Deer Garden and thanked India for everything that she had given us and stolen away:

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I am grateful for that dream, which continues, like love, or like loss. Grateful for the dream of India which broke me and nurtured my own transformation as nothing else might have, at a time when change was the option.

We walk by the sea in Israel now, our feet heavy in the gracious sand. I know the sun differently now as she travels my face and arms. I appreciate sleep as never before, and cherish the fresh fruits and vegetables that glow from within our skin.

I know that everything resolves itself in time, if we only surrender ourselves to our own nature and learn to be in ways which perpetually shock the terror out of our minds and billow our hearts free until they spread wide open like hammocks to hold all the night stars.

Thank you, India.

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Dear friends,

Our journeys through northern India stopped short just south of Amritsar and Dharamsala, two places which we hoped to visit and know we likely will see someday. Before we flew out of New Delhi, our collective journey angled its way across northern India, creating a cat’s cradle delta:

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We are in Haifa, Israel, now, where we feast on fresh organic produce and pass hours by the sea and spend time with Matan’s family and friends. I will collect my thoughts about the final days of our journey and update the “April” blog tab, as I am able.

The exploration of bhakti, or devotion, continues.

Loving baby goats in Bodhgaya

Loving baby goats in Bodhgaya

The question is, to what or whom have you decided to devote your self? What tools in your life help you to identify the means of devotion which feed your soul, rather than crowd your schedule and flambée your mind? Have you forgotten that yours is not the only soul in the world? Do you cultivate devotion, or addiction? Is your devotion sustainable? Can you let it grow, let it go?

Have you yet learned that you can lay your head down, and place it in the lap of the source –– named or nameless –– of your own, and everybody’s, love?

“To be fully alive, fully human, and completely awake is to be continually thrown out of the nest.” ― Pema Chödrön

We’ve realized this, day to day, in India.

However, I’m beginning to suspect that, as we live and grow, the entire world becomes our nest, even as we are perpetually thrown out of that nest via the shock of incomprehensible experiences. Many of them may heal us, as we recover our eyesight and begin to see them as they are.

Namaste.

Becca

The dream changes; the heart remains “same-same.”

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Dear readers,

Thank you so much for taking the time to follow my blog throughout northern India!

Much has changed since I started this blog with the plan to intensively study Odissi classical dance for 3 months in Pushkar, but the theme of the blog is actually unchanged, as life is a dance (dancing) and I am continuing on my quest to discover the true nature of devotion (bhakti).

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I’ve been fortunate enough to realize that I can no longer flog myself like a broken horse for the sake of art. I’ve also gotten sick, gone through Ayurvedic detox, gotten well, met incredible friends from all over the world,

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and also met a kindred spirit from Israel with whom I’m now traveling on the open road throughout northern India.

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Blessings to you as you walk your own paths, and

Namaste.

Becca

Have dream. Will travel.

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This moment is a mosaic of past influences and lessons.

A need to dance as vital, gentle and urgent as the need to sleep, eat, drink or breathe. A childhood filled with bed- and morning-time stories of Krishna, Rama, Hanuman, Siddartha, Jesus and Paramahansa Yogananda. A childhood fascination with Krishna, whom I believe to be the most beautiful of all the bodhisattvas. Years spent intensively studying classical ballet in my teens, performing in a pre-professional company. As many years spent wrestling eating disorders, and a following period of immersion into the creative, nourishing fire of tribal fusion belly dance.

A curiosity for and capability to be thoroughly intoxicated by foreign languages and their study. Experiences traveling to twelve countries outside of the U.S., and two life-periods spent teaching English and working towards second language fluency in Russia. Graduate study in the field of Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL), and research into cross-cultural humor and intercultural competencecultural humility and the experience of being othered within a foreign culture.

Daily meditation and yoga practice, and the realization at age 26 that I really have no idea how to breathe, nor do I have much patience at all!

The loss of a best friend-brother to a brain hemorrhage at age 24; he was a dancer, too, and my first dance partner. Hours spent guiding a troupe of tribal dancers through dance steps and performances alongside them –– beautiful, vulnerable and self-delighting women unafraid of their own wildness. The poetry of Hafiz.

Malas brought to me from kindred spirits who completed their own pilgrimages to India, before returning to the U.S. with a gleam and a half in their eyes. Dear friends from India who have nourished the corners of my mind. The otherworldly wide-hearted beauty of Bollywood films that have healed my heart from capitalistic concepts of western romance.

Memories of accompanying my mother to the Indian grocery at the age of 4 and soaking myself in the melange of turmeric, garam masala and cumin that singed my eyelashes. Fascination with Mirabai and her love of the dark one in college. Refuge found in Bollywood love songs in my mid-20’s. The curried ghobi that I cooked as comfort food while enduring the coldest of my winters in Moscow in 2012.

An early termination of a teaching contract that freed me to travel at the beginning of 2013. A night spent surrounded by murmuring candles, completing my application to Shakti School of Dance on my yoga mat.

A healthy and jubilant addiction to Punjabi bhangra dance. A wonderful bhangra teacher whom I met in Oregon, Sat Pavan Kaur Khalsa. My first awareness of Colleena Shakti, my near-future teacher, via my tribal mentor Suzanne Gerard several years ago. Sitting in on kirtans throughout the years and pondering, more and more urgently, the true nature of bhakti – selfless devotion. How does one practice it? How does one rediscover an awareness of the divine throughout each challenging blossom of a day?

Every tossed dart of a moment, in recent years, when I explained to a friend or even passing acquaintance that “One day, before I die, I have to go to India and study Odissi.”

The philosophy upheld by astrologer and raucously reverent astrologer Rob Breszny is the universe’s eagerness to “shower” a human “with blessings,” if they only believe in the goodness of fate. Actually, a similar philosophy was expressed in the beloved “Bottle Award Speech” in Om Shanti Om

 

I am grateful to every person who has ever expressed gratitude for or belief in my life and my purpose, or challenged me by illuminating my own shadows.

I am blessed beyond all possible comprehension by this opportunity to finally go to India and spend three months (a total of 300 hours) studying this ancient devotional dance under the tutelage of an internationally renowned dancer who herself continues to study Odissi under her own guru in Pushkar.

Thank you, every reader and friend and believer, for supporting me in this quest to discover the fluid, breathing nature of bhakti.

I fly to India next week and begin my training with other international Odissi students on January 24, 2013.