Intoxicating India (August 13th (2))
Today was simply magical.
I visited the monk who hitched hiked with me back from my last trip to the monastery, as he has a Tibetan medicine room. The air or something in Leh was giving me some serious allergies. When I sat in there listening to the consults with a French family I found myself being quite amazed. Just by feeling their pulse, he was able to accurately describe what was wrong with them. He gave medication, and instructions and soon it was my turn.
The medicine monk said I was allergic to the water in Leh! No rice, only chapatti for me. No shower for two days – ugh! Not sure I would be able to follow this one! He gave me little round balls to take for next 10 days. They are made from ancient herbs, plants and flowers. I took 3 followed by a glass of hot water. Within 10 minutes my head/sinus/eyes cleared. Amazing!
Next I chatted more to the gorgeous French family. We made a plan to meet for dinner, and that if I was free to join them on 14th for an adventure day around Leh! I went up to the monastery for the end of the monks chanting, and some blowing hard and erratically into long trumpet type instruments. Slightly disappointed by the amount of tourists snapping away rather than just soaking up the chanting experience. But it was magical nevertheless.
The temple with the Maitreya Buddha called me in again, but they were just closing as I arrived. The monk opened it just for me, and I had the amazing chance to sit and meditate in front of it again but this time in the temple alone. I felt so grateful, and like my day was just on this beautiful synergistic flow. The same golden feeling came as the other day as I sat in the temple. Like I was being beamed positive energy. I found out that Maitreya will be the future Buddha. Incidentally Maitreya is the Buddha of loving-kindness, and those of you that know me will remember my company offer wellness retreats at a stunning venue in Albany, WA also called ‘Maitraya’. For more information on wellness programs with the radiant being team at Maitraya visit www.radiantbeing.com.au
Next we visited the oldest and richest monastery in Ladakh. There were a lot of repairs going on. Just watching the guy drawing the artwork, and the other guys painting was fairly mind blowing when you consider the detail!
Being the spontaneous being that I am, when presented with an opportunity to climb 3 km up a mountain to see the meditation room I could not resist. I decided the day was flowing with such amazing synergy it would be an incredible experience. The lama who set up this monastery had spent many years in the mountains meditating before the monastery was built.
The Buddhist guide and myself began walking steeply uphill. A beautiful waterfall sound, as we walked along by the stream assured me I was in exactly the right place at the right time. I have felt that I needed to be near water just for the last day or two.
Stones carved with the ‘Om mane padme hum’ in both Tibetan and Sanskrit marked the path all the way up the mountain.
With the altitude it is astonishing how much your breath gets taken away, and how many rests you need. We were following the donkeys for a while which was awesome. I love the gentle and kind of mellow energy of donkeys!
Eventually we reached the top. It was honestly the most authentic and beautiful scene. In a small room several monks were chanting, playing instruments and praying. The guide and myself found a spot to sit with them and meditate. Just being in the space that a Lama and many monks have chanted, prayed and meditated for so long was totally soul enriching.
I closed my eyes and just focused on being in the present moment soaking up the energy and vibrations from the chanting and music. At one point one of the monks started performing a series of rituals. I could not help noticing one in particular who was literally the exact vision you would have of a laughing Buddha. His jolly face, and smiling eyes were just a pure delight to be around.
During the rituals the monk took a silver scoop and offered each of the monks liquid in their right hand. After he had been to each of the monks he came to me as well as our lovely Buddhist guide. I have got complete amnesia with names at the moment. I will blame it on lack of oxygen with the altitude! The guide showed me that you drink it straight from your hand. I did and it tasted kind of sweet and yummy to my surprise.
We were offered a plate of food, with a mix of fruits, crackers, sweets and more. I politely just took a banana, but the monk gave me a strawberry sweet and a Tibetan looking potato that tasted like a cake too. The guide did tell me what it was, but I was just so blown away by the whole experience I cannot recall that information. Just being in this environment with no other tourists was so amazingly special.
After having a little chat with the monks at the end of the chanting, we headed back down the steep mountain. We were chanting ‘om mane padme hum’ (meaning – positivity) the whole way down. As we passed the head
Lama, and laughing Buddha I mentioned earlier they began to chant with us. It was one of the most amazing experiences I have ever been blessed to have! Totally random and spontaneous. Aren’t they the best?
The guide had also told me of a non-touristy monastery his family belonged too. There was a special Lama staying there we may be able to meet. Although I was a bit tired and the rest of the group not keen at all, I decided it was the day for big adventure. I was already a bit unpopular after the mountain climb at the monastery. We had been timeless and what I thought was 2 hours had in reality been more than 3 hours. I did not feel good about the others hanging around, and wished they had decided to come up as well. But it was as it was, and the experience was just so awesome it was hard to feel bad about doing it to be honest. Note to self – ask more questions on how long things take, and be super considerate of others. I presumed they would soak up the ambience of the monastery, and go for chai, walks etc I was just totally lost in the moment and the spontaneous chance to see such a sacred spot. It felt so sacred I have not taken any photos of the monks, or area. Its one you will have to do for yourself, but I well and truly recommend it!!
So we jumped out of the car with the others heading back to Leh, and got in another car heading completely off the beaten track. The sun began to set in the mountains and all I could think was wow what a day. It was possibly the bumpiest road I had experienced, so I just closed my eyes and imagined I was having a massage as I got bounced and thrown around the car. Resistance would only made the journey more uncomfortable – ha ha!
We arrived just as it was getting dark. Greeted by a monk carrying huge heavy golden Buddha’s and statues we entered the monastery. I could feel straight away we were not only a ‘surprise visit’, but that possibly not many westerners had been in a while. The giggles from the kitchen, and all around from the monks was just so uplifting and happiness affirming. I tried Tibetan butter tea, which was surprisingly delicious. Made with milk, butter, salt and tea this eclectic combination worked very well indeed.
We waited to meet Kha Rinpoche (Saskia Rinpoches son) with a white silky scarf to pass to him. Soon we were called in to meet the Lama. What a treat to see my lovely 21-year-old Buddhist guide receive a blessing and to meet this lama who was so important to him. His whole being literally lit up with the honor, and when we left he looked as serene as I felt!
I arrived back to Leh feeling utterly exhausted but with a deep sense of peace and gratitude for the most beautiful day, with the most beautiful people on my path! Thank you Thank You Thank you! Just two days left in Leh before we fly down to Udaipur.
Must confess – at times missing my little boy terribly, and its only a week. A week in India feels like a month with all that can and does happen in a day. I am flying to the UK on 22nd August to visit our families there. My partner and son will have arrived as a surprise to them all now. Would have liked to be a fly on the wall to see the families’ faces!!
Due a skype catch up next days for sure. Feeling so grateful to have some time rediscovering myself too, and I’m sure when we are together again all the positives will shine out. Having a few thoughts of bringing my flight a bit earlier, but will see how I go as we pass through Delhi on the way to Udaipur.
If the little guy (Archie) is doing well, and being spoilt and distracted by his 10 cousins, aunties, uncles, nans and grandads all is o.k – but if hes feeling how I’m feeling at times - I am on the plane to UK earlier than planned.
Exciting day plan tomorrow. I am meeting with the French Family who I met at the Tibetan medicine shop at the monastery. They have somewhere amazing to take me…
Its a bit of a story on how we nearly did not catch up at all – which I will share later. Isn’t it funny how when you are meant to do something everything aligns and moves in the direction needed to ensure you get there.
Tonight Jo and I had a yummy dinner at ‘Chop sticks’ which is literally among one of the funkiest restaurants here – fairly western but serving traditional food too!
Time to leave Leh on Wednesday. I need a new bag to help carry some of the things I have brought here. So many amazing things available. North face and other branded back packs, wet weather gear, souvenirs, Kashmir throws galore, gorgeous scarves, beautiful art work. When you shop with the Kashmir shop keepers they are much more active at getting you into the shop, they give you the most lovely tea, and it is a fairly pleasant experience to be there. The Tibetans are just so chilled out, and do not push any sales at all just leaving you to look and ask as you like. Wow the colours, the variety and the choice – for me so overwhelming but equally amazing too.