Transcendental Meditation practice in Kathmandu

Today I tried a Transcendental Meditation (TM) course in Kathmandu. It is a course in 4 parts followed up closely with a lifetime of twice a day practice. TM and Mr Maharishi Mahesh Yogi got a large boost of publicity in the 60s when the Beatles came to visit.

According to the TM organisation’s website the technique is a simple as falling off a log, yet you can’t learn it from a book, tape, video etc. To learn it you have to pay money. No open source approach here.

The first step was an introduction about what TM is. There was quite a lot of theorising about how TM is scientific in its nature. Well reaching a physiologically calmer state during meditation seems to have been proven, but I am not so sure about the link between that meditative state and the Unified Theory of quantum physics for instance.

One thing that appealed to me was the idea that as the body naturally tends towards healing itself, the mind tends naturally towards happiness – all you have to do is let it. A nice thought. The result of calming the thoughts in the mind, should be bliss (a fantastic word) which – I get confused here – is the point where the noise of conscious thoughts stop and pure ego-free awareness is experienced… something like that – sure there must be something on Wikipedia about it.

So the technique is really just sitting comfortably and using a mantra to focus the mind on as little as possible for 20 minutes. When distractions come, slowly repeating the mantra allow you to put those thoughts and distractions to one side.

Right now I should be doing my first mediation practice but I am writing this, don’t have a cushion, am hungry, need to do any number of other things. 20 minutes is a lot of time.

But I will do it. In summary, I think if you take 40 minutes out of your waking hours to sit quietly, relax, breath gently, think of nothing and occasionally feel blissfulness, that can only be a good thing. The question is will I be able to notice benefits – what, how and when? And will the seemingly excessive cash outlay be worth it?

The Dust

Kathmandu is very dusty. Everything in Kathmandu is dusty (apart from the landlord’s car outside which is being lovingly polished by one of his staff – and lovingly in the sense of keeping his job intact) . It makes walking along roads, combined with bus exhaust fumes, unpleasant. Many people wear face masks like Japanese Tourists are known to do.

In the morning and through the day you’ll see shop keepers with dusters like candyfloss on a stick de-dusting all visible surfaces, beating rugs with sticks and splashing water on the road outside their frontages to keep the dust down on the ground.

And therein lies the problem. The ground is dusty. But it only occurred to me yesterday what the (a) solution would be. And that is to put asphalt or grass over everything. All the potholes would have to be filled, all the side streets covered, all open ground turned into lush bowling greens. Or stop all traffic. Neither are going to happen so its better to enjoy the dust and look forward to blowing your nose in to tissue paper or stepping into the shower at the end of the day or diving into a crystal clear swimming pool at an upmarket hotel.

boy in green back flip


boy in green back flip, originally uploaded by rpb1001.

This was taken in Bouddha near the huge Bodnath Stupa. Wandering north up some backstreets we came to an open area with some fantastic acrobatics taking place. This boy must have been around 6 years old but was fearless, as were his friends.

I also like this picture because the boy keeps the smile on his face while inverted and this one with the same boy in green taking a long run up and flying through the air.

Always great to see how kids can be so fearless, energetic and unbreakable. I didn’t try. I’d be afraid to break my neck or pull a muscle or look a fool – I’m old.

180 Degree project – join in

Do you have a camera? Can you turn around? Do you live somewhere?
More accurately, do you live in one of the places mentioned on this page (scroll down a bit) or know someone who does live in one of those places?

http://www.flickr.com/groups/180degrees/discuss/72157600013051831/

Then maybe you can help in the 180 degree art project.

Click the link above to read more about this fun project and help out my friend Laurence finish her project…

Pursuit 1 and 2


Pursuit 1, originally uploaded by rpb1001.

Hard to see in this picture but this is in front of KC’s Restaurant (Thamel’s oldest restaurant apparently) which has a small take away selling pizza slices, sandwiches and cakes.
A girl was walking down the street pursued by 3 homeless boys begging for food. Two carrying sacks of the cardboard and plastic they had been collecting and another of the group ferral kids that have their home on Tridevi Margh. The pursued girl walked passed the window of KC’s and then turned around walked back and went inside.

It was the speed with which the 3 boys ran to the window and lined up to see what she was going to buy that made me run downstairs and take a picture. It was pitiful to watch.

A minute later she stepped back outside and walked back in the direction from which she came and the pursuit resumed.

Riots

People keep informing me of riots happening in Nepal and they have been getting more serious. But of course, the vast majority of people just go about their daily business.

Check out this picture fresh from the front line!


This is actually Copenhagen. from my friend Gry:

Here’s an update on Copenhagen at the moment! It is a war zone! You remember I told you about the youthhouse? They are about to clean it out as we speak, I tell you it is insane what’s going on!

There is a war going on between cops and protesters and it is happening right in our neighbourhood and literally in our street! We have had days where we could not go outside because of smoke bombs. It has escalated the last couple of days and yesterday the city was on fire. We hope that it will cool off in the next couple of days.

Recently drenched Norwegian in White

Ellin (?) works for Save the Children, Norway on a programme trying to reintegrate children conscripted by the Maoists. A difficult role for many reasons. Girls are anyhow often disowned by their families but the children come from very poor backgrounds and have little to go back to. As Maoist cadres they had dubious excitement, some status and purpose, food and shelter.

She was the only person I saw wearing all white this Saturday.

Crumbs


20070303-krommen, originally uploaded by rpb1001.

Towards the end of the day on Holi I went to visit some friends having a garden party there. I gave my last two bags of powered paint to two snotty kids in the winding alleyways on the way to their house. A couple of minutes later I saw one being chased by an angry boy holding up his now yellow school jumper.

A small shop in Chabehil to buy a couple of things. The child on the right was munching on some cripsy things and, as children usually are, was unaware of his crumby chops. The boy on the left had, 2 minutes earlier, thrown a water balloon at my back from point blank range – the last one of the day thankfully.

Water + Paint balloons


Water + Paint balloons, originally uploaded by rpb1001.

Holi is a Hindu festival and you can read about its history here:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Holi

It is a happy day and this year especially due to the cessation of violence and the hope people have for peace and stability through the current political dialogue taking place.

It is a festival of colour. People will greet you smiling on the street and say Happy Holi, and smear paint on your cheeks.

That is the simple version. Somewhere along the line, water fights came into the picture. Walking down the street then becomes a perilous affair with bags being dropped or buckets being poured from roof tops.

To the Picture – 15 Rupees (18 euro cents) gets you a packet of 30 small plastic bags with a dusting of paint in each and elastic bands to close them once filled.

I just read this today – after the fact:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Holi#Toxic_impacts_of_chemical_colours