Sunday, 30 November 2014

Winter and grace

I went to see my teacher, Mātā Amṛtānandamayī Devī in Detroit over Thanksgiving. It was a most illuminating trip in so many ways; I felt that through its challenges, as well as its many sweetnesses, light was shed in some dark and wintery spaces for me. The journey to Michigan was tough; like many other folks on Wednesday, I experienced all manner of shenanigans just getting on the plane. We boarded, our wings were de-iced (with green slime!), we waited, we "de-planed". We re-boarded. We were de-iced again. We waited. We de-planed again. There were frantic negotiations with airline folks at the airport, rescheduled flights, wonky routes—I'm sure you know how this goes. I eventually got to Detroit around midnight. Amma was still giving darshan (her blessing as a hug), and I found my way to her arms around 1.30am. I had to take my glasses off (I usually wear contacts but had been flying), and there was something really profound for me about receiving her embrace in such a blurry, vulnerable way—looking up afterwards to see her smiling at me as if I was a little baby: Look at you! You made it! Well done!

It was an intense trip for many reasons. Seeing my teacher is always a big experience for me. And there were aspects of the retreat that I hadn't really thought through beforehand. When I've seen Amma in New York, I am with my very favorite people, my whole yoga community is there and it feels like a shared experience. At the retreat, I didn't know anyone. I had thought that I could give or take Thanksgiving, being as it's not a festival I grew up with in England—but realized that since I've been in the States, I've always celebrated it with loved ones, and it felt strange to be away from that. And I signed up for a two-day meditation course that required a lot of time and I ended up feeling anxious and exhausted by it, surely not the intended result!

At the point where I realized I hadn't left the huge hotel and seen daylight for 24 hours since my arrival and was feeling very overwhelmed, I decided I needed to take a break and take a breath. Like a GPS: Recalibrating...