Life has other plans
Namaste everyone. Remember how excited I was to have found a training in Rishikesh that was still going to take place from 2nd April, despite the Corona crisis taking more and more hold globally? Yeahhhh... about that. On the day I wrote my last blog post, the Indian Prime Minister had requested a one day curfew to encourage people not to go out on Sunday, 22nd May, but stay home in an attempt to reduce spread of the virus. That didn’t bother me, I figured a day is easily manageable. I still had plans to get to the school in Rishikesh on the 24th and as the situation became increasingly tricky, I emailed with the main contact at the school on the 23rd and again in the morning of the 24th to ensure that everything was on track.
They kept saying, yes, everything is ok and I’m welcome to join them. I had my stuff packed and the taxi organised for the evening, 8pm. Around 4pm, the school calls the ashram with an urgent message for me, so I ring back, and worst case scenario has happened: they tell me that in the end, I cannot come to the school as they were just forced to close by the local police and kick out all the guests who were staying there and not let anyone new in. So I ask at the ashram if I may please stay longer and Lalitaji, the lady in charge, tells me with a smile: no problem. Relieved, I unpack my stuff again and process the situation. Meanwhile the one day curfew turned into a three week lockdown of the whole country until 15th April which just recently got extended until 3rd May 2020.
Call it what you will, but this sequence of events lead me to spend the last month in this beautiful place that is Phool Chatti Ashram. What I came to witness during this one month, was of course impacted by the global COVID-19 outbreak which meant that from 23rd of March or so there were no more regular flights out of or into India. As people from all over the world have gone through the motions of panic and fear during various attempts at travelling home to their country, their families and responsibilities, it has taken a toll on group morale and has been particularly testing for the two wonderful volunteers who were always at hand helping with visa extension requests, communication with various embassies, lending laptops, phones and tons of emotional support. After going through three weekly programmes, we are now at a point where everyone is encouraged to pursue and develop their own spiritual practices. We started here in the ashram on the 18th March with around 20-25 guests and today 10 remain. I have been here one full month now and have had so many wonderful experiences and lessons which I’d love to share in my next posts. The biggest lesson I’ve learned so far: surrender brings with it a sense of blissful peace which is unattainable in a state of wanting to control life. Lots of love Jessy