Meditation on the Shores of the Bay of Bengal

Denise from Sound Awakenings in Pennsylvania was with us on our India Kirtan Adventure in January. Here’s an offering from her as an inspiration for your Day!  All the best, Rukmini

— by Denise Mihalik
It was six am and all was quiet. It was a cool, misty morning well before sunrise. A few of us met to chant japa* together.  Our hair was already wet from the falling mist and we could barely see the waves breaking through the fog.  I was waiting to see a mystical form or a pirate ship appear on the foggy horizon but instead, I saw pilgrims arriving at the bay for the first time.  Some were crying, some yelled with joy, others just needed rest, for they had traveled days, maybe weeks (many on foot) to reach this sacred land.  They came here to pray, bathe, and connect to waters that are deemed holy. Some will even offer the ashes of loved ones.  My group chanted quietly as we continued our meditation.  I looked to the left to see our hotel lifeguard walk up to water to begin his morning prayer.  He honored the four directions, touched the sea with his right hand and brought the water to his forehead.  He could now begin his work day.  He noticed us sitting on the wet sand, our hair wet from the dew and began to pitch a tent for us.  The beach peddlers arrived. They knew us by now, as it was day three, and we knew what they were peddling. Conch shells and pearls.  “No thank you” we said which means maybe to the peddlers.  We showed them our mala beads. ‘Praying” we said.  They stepped a few feet away, watching, waiting, hoping.

The lifeguard, tent now pitched, got chairs and insisted that we move under the tent and sit in the chairs.  Although content on the wet sand, we could not insult his efforts.  The lifeguard dried each chair for us. We sat.  The peddlers saw our movement and took the opportunity for a possible sale. The conch peddler set up all of his shells in front of us.  “You look while you pray” he said.  He knelt in front of me staring.  I closed my eyes to focus on my meditation, but the smell of gas fumes suddenly filled our tent.  The chai peddler had arrived and he was heating the water.  Now my mouth began to water for he made the best chai in all of Puri.  He sat and watched us.  “Praying” we said.  I gave him the “see you later ‘ signal and my mind now had a deadline.

We coughed from the smell of his fuel. The conch  peddler held a shell in front of my face.  “Good conch”, he said.  He blew into it.  It resonated loudly. As if on cue the camels walked past and the cotton candy peddler appeared.  PRAYING I reminded myself.

Smiling, our fearless leader, Gaura Vani, stood up and said “Let’s walk” and we tried our hand at walking japa meditation.  (As I passed by the chai peddler, I made eye contact; wait for me, I’ll be back!)

This true example represents the many personalities and distractions our minds can offer us at any given time. How many peddlers do we have in our head? How much pollution,  how many cravings, or time limits do we impose upon ourselves.  I smile as I remember this very special day in Puri, India just a few weeks ago.

Lesson for me – There will always be distractions.  I chose to pilgrimage all the way to India to focus on Spirit and yet, there were still so many distractions.  The good news is that Spirit is HERE NOW even with

Camels and Peddlars and Chai, Oh My.

See you in meditation.  Let’s keep at it.
Love and Light,

*Japa is a type of meditation using a string of 108 beads called a mala.

Denise Mihalik is a Certified Sound Healing Practitioner, Voice Teacher, Yoga and YogaVoice® Instructor, Classical Singer, Kirtaniya, and Bhakti Yogi. Denise has been immersed in sound exploration since early childhood.  The sounds of nature and the world of music have greatly influenced her life.  She began studying voice in middle school and continued on to complete a Music Education degree at Westminster Choir College and a Voice Performance/Opera degree at UNC-Greensboro.  She toured professionally on the opera stage and sang throughout the US in various opera roles, recitals, and concerts.  In addition, she has been practicing yoga for the past 16 years and is a certified yoga and YogaVoice® Instructor.