So, in a country where life is slow and simple - I have still remained busy, while seeking stillness in just being. The days are getting warmer, even though afternoon winds bring a gust and chill. So much so that roofs fly away. In keeping with Bhutanese standards of building and architecture, nails are not used in home construction. Most homes are stone, with open roofs. Roofs are held down by river rocks and chili peppers drying in the sun. Chili's comprise every dish, alongside rice and dhal. And, a local favorite dish is emadasi - chili and yak cheese. However, I will say that I had a lovely birthday dinner - which was Western standard/Bhutanese style. I enjoyed yak carpaccio and yak bolognase - I figured, why not make it a yakkity yak birthday. I regret to say that one of the biggest challenges that I have endured is finding deep sleep. The towns are full of wild dogs, and they seem to bark all night long. The locals believe that the barking dogs keep evil spirits away. Possibly, but the fact that all dogs sleep during the day - I reckon they are just bored and having fun all hours of the night. We have several cows that wander outside our doorstep - but they are very mellow, just like the Bhutanese.
I was lucky enough to experience the annual Tsechu - which is a sacred 5 day festival of dance, prayer and chanting. Most dances are to prepare you for death. Once your spirit leaves your body, it remains in Bardo. Used loosely, the term "bardo" refers to the state of existence intermediate between two lives on earth. According to tradition, after death and before one's next birth, when one's consciousness is not connected with a physical body, one experiences a variety of phenomena. These usually follow a particular sequence of degeneration from, just after death, the clearest experiences of reality of which one is spiritually capable to, and up to terrifying hallucinations arising from the impulses of one's previous unskillful actions. For the prepared and appropriately trained individuals the bardo offers a state of great opportunity for liberation, since transcendental insight may arise with the direct experience of reality, while for others it can become a place of danger as the karmically created hallucinations can impel one into a less than desirable rebirth. So, by witnessing the dancers in somewhat frightful masks - we are able to get a glimpse of what we might come across, therefore teaching one not to have fear.
Tomorrow, I take off on an 11 day tour of sacred sites of Bhutan. Feeling fortunate to see more of this magical land.
So, the past few months has brought much change for both of us. Warren left for Bhutan in October 2010, and I made my way to Bhutan in March. If you are like me, I didn't know much about this magical kingdom until I arrived. Therefore, I will give you all a bit of history before I give you my own thoughts about this sacred land. Drukyul is the name by which the Bhutanese refer to their country. Located in the eastern Himalayan zone, it covers an area about the size of Switzerland. This landlocked kingdom is bounded to the north and northwest by the Tibetan regions of China and to the south by the Indian states of West Bengal and Assam. The spectacular mountainous terrain of Bhutan is easily one of the most rugged in the world, rising in altitude to permanently snow capped mountain peaks. This country of 600,000 people can be divided into three ecological zones. The northern zone, bordering Tibet, where the peaks rise above 7,000 meters, is the most sparsely populated part of the country. This alpine regions is inhabited by Brokpas, who graze their sheep, cattle and yak. The Drukpas, who are of Mongoloid origin, live in the western part of the central zone. They are followers of the Drukpakagyu school of Buddhism from which the name of the country, Drukyul or land of the Drukpas is derived. Drukyul is also taken to mean land of the dragons.
Bhutan opened to tourism in 1974, although it is restricted. The lack of infrastructure and tourist facilties as well as Bhutan's effort to preserve her natural and cultural heritage are the main reasons for the restrictions. Individual travelers can not visit the country unless officially invited by the government. And, once invited, it incurs a hefty fee of $250 dollars a day.
With that being said, we feel blessed and lucky to have this amazing opportunity to be here. It has been an exciting adventure. We are both getting ready to lead yoga retreats for the next 3 weeks, which will take us to different parts of Bhutan. New postings to follow soon.
Join me as I surf the spiritual heights and bodily delights of the yoga lifestyle.