adventures of a fearless (mostly) globe trotting seeker...
wondering, wandering, barefoot, nomadess

Thursday, February 25, 2010

A western woman was murdered in the village

i just found out that a western woman was murdered two months ago in the rural village where i am teaching. my friend rohan, who is indian, has travelled with me in india many times before. we have been to many dark and questionable places and he was never worried for me before. today he was very concerned about my safety.

i am shaken by the news of this murder. much more shaken than i was about the terrorist bombing that killed westerners at the german bakery in pune a week ago. somehow, that felt more removed and random from what i am doing. but another western woman being killed in this same small village i am going to, and only two months ago feels very close to home for me. i wonder about this woman. who was she? where was she from? what was she doing in this remote village?

in the village there is a beauty, an sweetness in the women i am working with. it is wonderful to see how they are becoming warmer with me and each other after the yoga. that's why i teach yoga, because it works. but as i walk through the dusty street in the village, i see a lot of pain and sadness in the eyes. i am told there is a big problem with alchoholism with men there. isn't that always true in ghettos? i have been told that it would be dangerous to be in the village during holi, a holiday coming up in a few days. i am told the men drink alot on that day, and it would not be safe for me to be outside. i shudder to think about how things can turn on a dime.

as a foreigner, i only see the poverty. i do not know if one area is more dangerous than another. it is like a very dangerous area in america, where there are gangs and homicides as well as the underlying poverty. i have been told that this is a slum area, i am not sure what that means.

i was warned that the men might not respond well to what i am teaching the women, their wives and daughters. in class today, i asked the woman what their dreams were. we went around in a circle sharing. one of the young woman whose toddlers wander in and out of the classes said she couldn't think of anything. the other women encouraged and cajoled her to try to think of something. she said she wanted to be a good daughter in law. i told her that was for someone else, what did she want for herself. she said that she had wanted to be a teacher, but her parents made her get married instead. i told her that if she starts sharing the yoga, then she will be a teacher. because a teacher is someone who shares knowledge they think is important. during the class, her mother in law came and watched by sitting in the open doorway. afterwards, they were standing in the yard and i told her what the younger woman said about wanting to be a good daughter in law, and that she could do that by teaching her mother in law yoga. i felt very good about the exchange. but now i wonder if that woman went home and told her family that i asked her to want something for herself besides being a good daughter in law, it might not be that well received. there could even be a backlash.

i am afraid. i live a life where i stalk myself, i stalk my fears. i am only so fearless because i am afraid of everything. the suffering and cruelty of the world have always made me afraid of this place, where man can be so inhuman to man.

the first time i left my teacher after meeting him and being initiated, he said, "take care, the world can be cruel". and it can.

the last time i saw him we talked about what makes people to things like genocide. what about leaders like hitler? what makes a group mind harmonize and lead to divine levels of love and compassion versus a group mind sinking to demonic levels of violence and retribution?

hopefully, it is the practices i am trying to share that helps make that difference. the world is sometimes very scary. we do not treat ourselves and each other well.

when will we stop making martyrs in this world? not until we stop loving being martyrs ourselves. i do not want to be a martyr in this lifetime. i have had visions of being burned as a witch in a village before. today, when i was most afraid, my mind flashed a picture of being dragged out of the classroom and beaten in the square. i do not think this is likely, but i saw the fear in my own mind. what is a witch? a woman who owns her power. in taking responsibility for your own power you confront fear. the fear of not being accepted and loved. and the very real fear of being punished, sometimes brutally.

in the end, i do help create the world with my own thoughts, so my negative fears are more likely to magnetize negative experiences. but i am not the only one creating this world with my thoughts, we are creating this world together.

God, grant me the serenity
To accept the things I cannot change;
The courage to change the things that I can;
And the wisdom to know the difference.


  1. Psalm~ you, Rohan, and the others are in my prayers. What you are doing is inspiring and important. Stay strong and motivated~ I wish I was there to help in some way. Love Alana

  2. thanks alana, i miss you sweet ma