The world wakes up really early here. Usually about 6am you can hear the neighbours clearing their throats (that IS a part of Dincharya, the Ayurvedic daily routine but more on that another day) and the kids are already out and about playing before school (which seems to start about 8.30) and by the time I am outside most of the women have hung out a load of washing which impresses me greatly! Its usually pretty nippy both inside and outside my room at that time. The sun hasn’t quite made it over the mountain, so I always have my kettle filled at the side of my bed so that I can jump out, flick the water heater on, flick the kettle on, open the curtains to let the day in and then snuggle back under my big sheet and blanket with my cup of herbal tea which, by the time it is has been drank the water has been heated and I can get up. Incredibly efficient but I am warning Mr Forsyth I may expect this drink in bed malarkey of him when I am back (fat chance!). Morning ritual is a major part of preventative medicine in Ayurveda and Charaka is clear that we should get up before the sun so we have a few hours before our day kicks in for self care. If you can’t love yourself how can you expect others to? So I have a routine that is not 100% Charaka but it does me and my life and according to Dr Sharma that’s ok, but we should all have at least one morning to perform the detailed ritual (which does involve honey and yoghurt applied externally along with chickpea flour so that you are almost a walking, talking pancake by the end of it but again, will save that for another day!). My shower in itself is a ritual – if you saw the video tour you will have seen we are not working with Armitage Shanks here, it is THE most temperamental set of taps I have ever come across and its almost a battle of wills to get it to the right temperature without getting either third degree burns or chilblains! After my shower its self massage with sesame oil (NOT toasted – that’s just for your stir-fry!) and I’ve been doing this for years now. If your skin is oily this is done before the shower but with my prune-like covering I do it after. It feels so nice and comforting. Then teeth. I have started using a herbal Ayurvedic powder which isn’t refreshing in the slightest but also isn’t that bad tasting although it takes a bit of practice to get the paste right. At first my face was covered in it and it looked like I’d been eating poo but I’m getting better. Then once I have swept the swimming pool that’s left over into the drain, its time for yoga, pranayama and meditation on my wee balcony in the sun, usually with one or two dogs getting nicely in my way. Believe me people, moving your body in some way, whether it’s a walk with the dogs or a gym session, whatever is your thang, is the best self-care you can do in the morning but make it regular.
By this time I am ready for breakfast and there are so many gorgeous wee places round here I try to move about but find myself migrating to two, based on the patter and the coffee as much as the food. And maybe its because I am breakfasting in the sun and my digestion is good but food tastes so fresh and sweet and delicious here – even porridge! I am even having steamed veg which is a novelty but, actually, it works! This is when I have a second coffee and go over my notes from the day before. And then panic cos I can’t remember a bleedin’ thing.
Because I am up so early I usually have time for a walk before class and that usually means walking down to the Hindu Temple and bathing pool. Not because I like seeing pot-bellied Indian men in their swimmers (believe me I don’t like seeing any pot-bellied race in their budgie-smugglers) but because the sun hits it beautifully in the morning so I can catch some rays before being cooped up inside for 4 hours. But 4 hours of lectures with our Doctor fly by in an instant, believe me. In that time we usually only stop for a pee and a tea but he pushes us to take in as much information as we can in that period.
By that time we are getting a tad peckish so its lunch about 2.30 – 3.00. A big one. A thali with dal, veg curry, rice, chapati and curds. Numnumnum. Its amazing how I’ve now kind of got used to having only 2 meals a day, making them good meals and enjoying eating every morsel mindfully and it lasts til the next meal. And if you get hungry a piece of fruit or some dried fruit and nuts is enough to keep the digestive fire glowing. (More on the Ayurvedic approach to food and eating another day as well). But I am drinking copious amounts of herbal tea, And peeing like a horse as a result but my innards are getting a good clean out….in more ways than one!
That’s usually the social part of my day done with my fellow students, and I toddle (sorry huff and puff my way to the White Rabbit – I really must do a video of this twice, sometimes thrice, daily climb to my home here. Its lung-stretching, heart-pumping stuff!) And its head down again. Re-writing my notes from what looks like something a demented spider dipped in ink had created into something that will contribute to my passing or failing this course, learning my Sanskrit, reading and re-reading everything. That can take 3-4 hours. Are you suitably impressed? But I have a break in between by going to my meditation group with Guruji. A wonderful, kindly old gentleman who looks exactly like you would expect. White clothes, curly, greying hair, big cow-like eyes and the softest voice and cheekiest smile you will ever experience. But rather than send you to sleep we always end with a wee kirtan (singsong) so that by the time I am ready to make the big hike back to my room and my studies I am totally refreshed.
Then its prepare for bed and am experimenting with some of Ayurveda’s recommendations to send us off to Lalaland but to be honest, by the time I put away my laptop, send some final messages to my nearest and dearest, and have read two pages of my book, Lalaland has hooked me…and my body goes into rest and digest….ready for another day in the morning….. and so the cycle of life goes on….and its wonderful and I never want it to end….