I never thought an airport would be a likely place to have a transcendental movement meditation experience but that is what just happened. I am in the New Delhi airport waiting for my next flight to Kathmandu. I was looking to buy some Indian music and happened upon a store that was playing beautiful classical Indian tunes so I swept on inside. What came to greet me was an entire shift in energy. It was like stepping through a portal. Suddenly I was in a warm, vibrantly colored space, anchored with a deep mahogany wood. This store was for all those dirty hippies, the spiritually vagrant individuals wandering India in the hopes that the country might knock some existential sense into them: i.e. this store was made just for me. There were shelves upon shelves of colorful and luxuriously soft scarves and many shelves of books on yoga, health and spirituality. There were Indian handmade crafts, a section of Ayurvedic medicines and next to it an Ayurvedic doctor giving free consultations. There was a 360 degree kiosk of traditional Indian music from all corners of this vast country and on the stage adjacent two musicians were playing the most beautifully improvised classical music on tabla drums and a string instrument called a Santoor. Every facet of this store simply vibrated with the frequencies of OM.
The most striking element of this store however, lay at its center. In the middle of the store, taking up considerable room that could have been used for merchandise, was a square shallow pool with a textured floor. A plaque before the pool described how in ancient India, townships were founded around a consecrated space. This space formed the heart and the root of the new colony and was always a place of meditative respite and intentional gathering. This pool was a representation of the same sentiment, this time for this store and for those who enter its realm. The plaque also invited guests of the store to remove their shoes and once having cleaned their feet, take a slow meditative walk through the still waters. The texture on the bottom was a grid of even round balls and was constructed as such so as to give stimulation to the nerves and energy channels rising from the feet. Running along the edge of the pool was a stone slab bench with carved messages in English and Hindi. One communicated the message: “I am not body, I am not mind, I am not ego, I am not senses, nor am I matter or space. I am pure consciousness and bliss. I am Shiva.”
As I entered the store and took in all that it contained, my eyes kept being drawn back to this mysterious pool. At its center was a brass orb set in a stone sculpture which is used to represent Shiva. After perusing the music and purchasing a few CDs, the lure of this pool was too strong to refuse. The two musicians were still playing lovely improvisational music that simply floated like sublime incense through the store. As I took my shoes off and placed them in the rack beside the pool, I thought of how nice it was going to be to travel in the waters of the pool with their music shining like liquid light in my mind. With bare feet, pants rolled up and feet properly washed, I sat with legs crossed at the edge of the pool and took a moment to breathe and be still, letting the scintillating tabla and strings of the Santoor vibrate my in every cell.
With conscious awareness I slowly dipped my toes in and then submerged my feet and ankles, letting my soles come to rest gently on the textured bottom. I sat like this for a few moments, feeling the waves I created in the pool rise and fall gently on my lower legs. The force of each wave was so slight but with half closed eyes and a concentrated mind, I could feel the energy of each wave transmit from the water into my body. With my next inhale I rose slowly to my feet. I took a moment to stand still here, feeling the full pressure of the rounded bumps along my feet, feeling the waves of the water and the softly playing music ring clear all around me. Slowly I began to walk. Each step I took, I took with utter awareness. I would balance completely on one foot before placing the next step with careful attention. Slowly I would introduce weight into the next step and slowly I would lift the back foot until I came to balance again on the opposite foot. Each movement I took, I coordinated with my breath, bringing deeper awareness and relaxation to my walk. I walked like this across the pool and then turned around the sculpture representation of Shiva and began walking toward the musicians.
It was at this point that I realized that, although I was moving very slowly, I was still moving to the rhythm and emotion of the music. I invited my hands to become a part of my walk. As I lifted one foot, the opposite hand would rise palm up, as slowly as my foot and with the same attentive awareness. When the foot would be placed back down, the opposite palm would roll down in synchronization with the foot. These movements began to evolve into a slow meditative dance, almost beneath my conscious awareness of it happening.
Slowly I became vaguely aware of a crowd forming around the edge of the pool, watching me, transfixed. I did my very best not to direct attention to them however and continued to direct attention inward, to my breath, my liquid rhythmic and slow movements and to the resounding sound of the music echoing in my body. I did let myself perceive the crowd just enough to provoke more evolution in the dance and thus I invited new inspiration and variation into my movements. I played with the moment of complete balance on one foot, moving the un-weighted foot with a deliberate floating freedom, and coordinating this with movements of my hands. I found myself spontaneously forming Mudras, or hand gestures used in spiritual and healing yogic practice (The most commonly known example is where the index finger and thumb tips are brought together and the remaining fingers extend out. This is the commonly known meditation hand gesture but it is traditionally known as Gyan Mudra). I even found myself coming into Shiva’s dance pose for a brief moment, eyes half open, before melting away into the next Tai Chi-like movement or pose.
After some time the crowd had become large enough to block the entrance of the store and the manager came over to ask that people move along to reduce congestion. This shift in energy popped the sheer rainbow bubble skin of my trance and I smiled abashedly suddenly all too aware of the hubbub I had caused. I came to stand still at the edge of the pool to still my mind once more. As I relaxed here my arms naturally fell outward and back, my chest extended up and I leaned back ever so slightly, smiling openly. My palms were facing upwards as if to catch the beauty of this moment raining down. It was at this moment, looking up with half open eyes, that I noticed the array of antique brass bells hung in a square patch of ceiling above the pool. They were beautiful and shimmered slightly in the warm light of the store. “Sheesh” I thought to myself, “these people really thought of everything.”
A funny thing I noticed, when I stopped moving, the musicians stopped playing. I have felt this bond before when dancing to improvised music but it continues to fascinate me. Somehow an energy cycle exists between musician and dancer in improvised music and dance especially and when this cycle is broken, the music must stop and find its own pace separate from the energy of the dancer. Soon the musicians began playing their hypnotic smooth tunes again and my eyes closed so as to best drink it in.
I felt the tug of the music wishing to pull me back into trance but I resisted. I was still too aware now of those who still watched, and those who were trying their hardest not to. I also did not wish to force the arrival of the trance. So instead of continuing my “performance” I sat down on the edge of the pool and closed my eyes. Still I could not sit still. The music moved me even as I sat, swaying my shoulders, entering my chest and my belly causing me to ungulate subtly. Soon I couldn’t resist the invitation to move more freely. I stood slowly, gently and breathed, before again letting myself slip into another movement meditation trance. But I didn’t fall as deep this time still too aware of those watching. After traversing the pool once or twice, I came to sit on the opposite side, by where I had stashed my shoes. I sat there at the edge of the pool with my feet still in the water and I took a moment to absorb the incredible peace and stillness that rang like a distinct frequency in me. Slowly, deliberately I took my feet out of the water and crossed my legs. Sitting in this pose I gave the deepest thanks I could muster. I shouted thank you in my every cell, thank you for this body, thank you for this water, this music, this moment. With my hands in prayer position I bowed to the musicians and to the water and then gently dried off my feet and put my shoes back on.
With my feet wrapped in socks and strapped into sandals I felt uncomfortably chained to the ground. I could feel my feet longed to be still submerged in the pool but I was worried about moving along to my gate and I could feel that the portal to my trance state had narrowed. The meditation had found its close and that was alright. I felt beyond blessed to have experienced it in the first place.
Before I left I asked one of the staff persons in the shop if the musicians had a CD I could purchase or even simply a business card I could have. I didn’t want to interrupt their lovely playing but the Santoor player noticed me inquiring about them and called me over. I thanked them profusely for such inspiring and arrestingly beautiful music and they thanked me for my dance. The Santoor player gave me his card (his name is Prahbat) and he invited me to find his music on YouTube as well. Delighted I thanked them again and bowed several times to punctuate this gratitude.
While I was gathering my things, a staff woman at the shop came up to me to tell me that she thought my dance was very beautiful. We began talking and I told her how spot on this store was; just all the way through it hit all the right points. She thanked me for my comments and asked if I would fill out a feedback form to which I gladly accepted. As I was filling out the form, the Prahbat came over and presented me with a copy of his CD as well as a fan for dancing. He even signed the CD for me. I could have jumped up and kissed the ceiling I was so overjoyed.
I thanked the musicians over and over and I bowed to the workers of the store as I bustled my way out of the store. Walking back out into the airport was again like traveling through a portal. All of a sudden I was back among duty free shops, overpriced bars and grills and the broad open and expansive spaces flooded with harsh fluorescent lighting. I felt like I had landed with a thud back onto the ground from where I had just been somewhere high up in the ionosphere. Walking along the wide corridors with all the other travelers going about their private business, I tried to comprehend just what had happened, what that had meant. All I can know for sure is that, when I move and meditate to music, the most pure bliss courses through my body and radiates outward. This bliss can be felt by others and they are nourished by it in some way. I don’t know if this can be transmitted into performance format but I will certainly try to do so. It just feels too good to be in that space and sharing that energy with those around me. This much I know for sure.
A fiery fairy who has set off to explore Asia and discover new things about the world and herself. The journey is one to fully realize her strength and an unwaivering faith in her personal power.