One of the things I am loving about India is how the spiritual and the secular parts of life are not compartmentalised but are intertwined and integrated.
Shrines and temples on every street; acts of devotion a no-nonsense, no-big-deal part of everyday life.
And people doing yoga, and meditating, in a similar, no-big-deal, just part of everyday life kind of way.
I admire that.
I’ve been struggling with a meditation practice for some time now (see this post for a typical example of my experience), but in spite of nearly daily attempts, it hasn’t really happened for me.
The monkey mind remains untamed.
And so it was with some interest that I saw a place in Jaipur offering Ayurvedic massages that purport to open your third eye and facilitate the gaining of that elusive state of mental quietude that I was beginning to think was the yogic equivalent of the Emperors New Clothes.
So, in the spirit of Interest and inquiry, and it must be said, quite a lot of cynicism, I booked myself in for a Shirodhara massage.
It started, in a slightly startling fashion, by being told to take off all my clothes and put on a rather fetching pair of ginormous paper granny knickers (reminding me of the one time I went for a manicure in Leamington- but that’s a story for another time).
The lights were dimmed and I was told to lie down on the massage bed and relax.
At which point boiling oil was poured all over me.
Well, perhaps not boiling, but that’s how it felt at first to my unexpectedly exposed and goose pimpled skin.
Then the massage began – an hour of warm oil and expert pummelling, every joint popped, cracked and quite possibly dislocated.
After an hour, you are wrapped in towels, your eyes tightly blindfolded and then,
A stream of warm oil is poured continuously onto your forehead, the site of the “third eye”.
It is simultaneously slightly disgusting but also incredibly relaxing.
For twenty minutes or so I lay there, mind shifting this way and that, trying hard not to fall asleep and embarrass myself by a) snoring or b) dribbling.
And then the weirdest darned thing happened.
The thoughts stopped.
There was nothing except awareness of being.
It lasted for probably all of ten seconds.
And was frankly terrifying and exhilarating at the same time.
There may just be something in this meditation business after all.