This Thanksgiving I had the pleasure of accompanying my friend and fellow yogi Shanna to a school in the outskirts of Gokulam where she volunteers to teach weekly. The class of ten girls and ten boys (all about twelve years old) were thrilled to see her, and meet me, "Miss Dana." We taught in a small room with two benches (no desks or chairs) and a chalkboard.
The students are precious. They are smart. They are beautiful. They are blessed. They are so interested to learn, and so bright and hopeful for their futures. These kids could probably jump into any American class of their grade level and be ahead of their American peers, even though their English is still not perfect. They want to be doctors and software engineers and teachers and one lovely little girl, a dancer. Another darling girl says she writes poetry.
Shanna's lesson plan includes personal journaling and drawing in their special notebooks (which she donated to them). We then taught the basics of Yama and Niyama, the first two limbs of the path of Yoga. We helped the students write sentences describing daily actions that might fit into the categories of Yama and Niyama. For example "I help my mother clean the house," or "I wash my face and come to school to learn." The kids are sweet and social, and extremely polite, even though they're a little rowdy!
Then we took a rickshaw all the way downtown to a restaurant called RRR, where they serve food on banana leaves. After a mix of rice, chickpea curry, spinach lentils, and some other amazing and delicious concoctions we were really feeling the Thanksgiving spirit! We finished our feast with some traditional Indian desserts from the bakery nearby. Mysore Pak, made of pure ghee and chick peas, was delicious, as was the ball of sweet dates, raisins, and shaved coconut.
Later that night we stopped by a kirtan at Chakra House (a restuarnt in Gokulam, near the shala) and finished with a mini evening feast of papaya, dosa and chocolate chip cookies from the Chocolate Man.
Now, back in my room, on a new moon day, I'm meditating on gratitude...
I am thankful for:
The unusual and wonderful Thanksgiving I was blessed enough to experience this year.
The space I have from the commercialized American holiday craze.
Having a close and healthy bond with my family, and the confidence that time away does not mean less love.
Health all around.
My partner, and the unselfish and insightful support he has given me during the time we've known each other.
My job. And the ability to take time away from it.
All the wonderful and diverse teaches I have learned from.
My physical apartment, and the increasing realization that home is not always the same space; it can exist wherever I am.
om santih santih santih.