We are all one…
I don’t think I really understood the concept of ‘oneness’ until I went to India to study yoga and I ‘felt’ it. It’s ironic that I felt it there. Firstly, because I was terrified of going. I thought I was going to die. Secondly, because I felt no connection to India what-so-ever. The only reason I went was because it seemed to make sense to study yoga in its country of origin and despite being terrified, I wanted an authentic experience.
Before I left people had filled my head with horror stories of what it was like in India. Stories of lifeless bodies on the streets, limbless beggars, robberies, dysentery, poor sanitation, parasites. My father tried to convince me that I would end up dead on the streets and once I had been ‘relieved’ of any valuables the people would just step over my lifeless body and walk on. No one back home would know of my demise because the Indian people wouldn’t care enough to let them know – they’re too used to death to be effected by it. (Cheers Dad!)
I chose to ignore the pessimists and to win out over my emetophobia (an extreme fear of vomiting, which resulted in me eating nothing but the Pringle’s I bought from a 7 Eleven in Thailand for the first three days). With all that aside, off I went to see the world with my own eyes.
I saw many of the things I was fore-warned about in one way or another. In India you are forced to slow down, nothing moves fast there. So you get to look around and take in the life that is happening around you. I made a conscious effort to do that and I saw simplicity. I saw joy.
Yes, there were beggars. Many of them. They asked you for food and money constantly. If you gave them food they were elated – after all it is one of our basic needs humans – so why wouldn’t they be? It felt good to witness such simple joy that we have come to take for granted. We should be elated with each bite. There was a lot to learn from being amongst these people.
Yes, there was poverty – My neighbours lived in a mostly roofless, partially walled, somewhat standing pile of rubble. Their yard was what many of us would call a junk yard. But, they were happy. I was greeted everyday with the hugest smiles and excitement, as the little ones chased my scooter down the drive way. Waving furiously. Squealing and giggling as they rained innocence, joy and curiosity about their foreign neighbours.
The house I lived in for 9 weeks had prison-like bars on all the windows. We were warned that even with the bars on the windows the (so inclined) people of Anjuna could clear your home of its contents with one simple tool. A long wooden rod with an iron hook on the end. Pretty impressive and I would have liked to see it… but I wanted to keep the little I came with. So I kept the windows locked and avoided a robbery. I did have to barter for everything I bought though – and mostly got duped.
While I was watching all this going on around me, and realising there was not that much to be afraid of, I was busy studying. Yoga school was not just all twisting and bending, I was learning about India’s history, culture and philosophies. What a privilege to learn these things about a country whilst living amongst it.
One of the simplest lessons was one of the deepest reaching for me. For those of you who don’t know the word ‘Yoga’ translates to mean union. Meaning that we are all one. We are all connected through the divine essence, the energy that created everything. Any feeling of separation is an illusion because we are all born from the same source. We are all the same.
In a country like India, it is very easy to ‘feel’ this. At least for an outsider. All of a sudden you are in a community where people are chasing the simple requirements of a happy life. Food, water, shelter, health, companionship. They are happy in nature. They are happy amongst friends and family.
Not that different to city people, except that in the city we are distracted by excesses. This derails us from what our hearts truly desire. In the cities everyone is chasing more. More money, more success, more power, more recognition, popularity, possessions, love. The simple things are often taken for granted. We become hedonistic and greedy and everything becomes disposable. Replaceable. The value we place on things declines because there is so much at our fingertips. It’s easy to forget who we are and what we really want because of the demands placed upon us by the society we live in. We compare and compete and feel we are working against each other rather than with each other. It can become a very lonely place, despite being surrounded by millions of other people. People who are in essence the same as you but who feel like strangers.
The first moment I remember being aware of feeling one with everything, was a very quiet moment. I was riding my scooter home from class and two young boys walked ahead of me. I slowed down and watched them as they walked along the road. They were in fact walking in the middle of the road. Without a care. They were around 14 years old and they were talking and laughing. They were holding hands. Their affection was not of a sexual nature, it was innocent. It was about loving the person you are with.
I felt part of the moment not just because I was watching, but because I knew I had felt what they were feeling. The pure bliss of being out in nature with someone you care about. Someone who makes you laugh from deep within. The sun beaming down upon your skin. No pressure to be anywhere or do anything other than just enjoy the moment you are in. The kind of moment that makes us feel truly alive, happy and connected.
The kind of moments we all want more of…