How I Start My Day In Tamil Nadu, India

by Carly Shankman (United States of America)

Making a local connection USA


I am currently living in a reforestation village in India working on the land, sleeping in a hut, eating only food which the land provides, and living without running water and electricity. Living as the locals do has never been so fulfilling. 6:00am: I start my morning silence as we do each day, “Thank you for the air in my lungs. Thank you for my healthy, capable body. Thank you for the challenges, opportunity, and beauty of this day.” I’m sitting in the main hut in silence with the community. Every Monday morning, we sit in the same quiet energy space for 45 minutes. Some people are reading, some writing, others are doing yoga and meditating, or even sleeping, but collectively our thoughts and feelings are vibrating through the room creating a powerful unified force for the week to come. I feel light here, as if every care or concern I’ve had simply lifted itself from my body. My mind is at ease, my thoughts clear, and my heart full. You know the days when nothing seems to go wrong…no mishap, person, mosquito bite, or traffic jam can get you down? When every problem has an easy answer, every ounce of darkness has a light at the end, and you feel that at their core, every person is truly good. That’s what I’ve come to believe enlightenment to be like. To live in that state of joy and peace….I believe that’s what everyone searches for; a state of being where no matter what, you feel content and satisfied and you feel love and gratitude for every person and thing in your life, no matter how they may show up sometimes. I am far from any such form of enlightenment and I’m not so sure it’s even attainable (or desirable) unless you live alone in a faraway cave or possibly Sadhana Forest all your life, but I feel I have found a small piece of it here. Maybe it’s just that I’ve allowed my mind the opportunity to quiet down long enough to recognize the peace that was always present…the peaceful, quiet, place of strength inside that is often covered with the “doing” of each day. I make a conscious decision to carry this state of peace with me the rest of the day, and the rest of every day moving forward. My peace of mind is with me as I cut fruit for breakfast, as I wash the morning dishes and as I prep vegetables and prepare lunch for the community. It’s with me as I go for a bike ride through town, as I water the trees in the forest, and as I lay my head down to sleep at night. My peace of mind is with me for good,