Idiot’s Guide to Transcendence

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Hrithika sat cross-legged under the Bodhi tree. Well, at least as much as her leg would cross itself. Lakshmi, the facilitator for the day, not only crossed her bare legs as the wind ruffled her hair, but had a strange boneless quality to it, as if they could collapse into multiple folds if there was a pressing need for it.

“And the moment you find yourself lost in thought, observe the thought itself,“ said Lakshmi in a soft breathy tone, that drifted to her with the wind.

Jealousy, Hrithika summarized her thoughts in response. Suhaas’s eyes were glued to Lakshmi’s legs as if they were the point of meditation. Well, at least, he was concentrating on something. Even if it was at the cost of her own concentration.

“Just return your attention to your breathing.” said Lakshmi, nudging them.

Hrithika breath turned into a long sigh. Listening to herself breathing was like listening to the same song for the hundredth time in a single day. A song with a single verse. With neither melody nor instrument. A song that everybody else seemed to damn impressed with, and constantly humming, driving her insane. And the channel wasn’t changing anytime soon. She had to survive this some way of the other.

Well, it was still better than listening to Suhaas when he was on one of his rambling moods. Oh….how the man could go on. How he, as the director of the company, had fired a bunch of interns and screamed at another. How his boss had wanted him and Hrithika to tag along to this yoga retreat, because it could be life changing. And all through she had to listen to him. Or at least, pretend. She was finding it so hard to listen to anyone at all these days, even the television. And of course, Suhaas threw a fit if she didn’t pay attention, brooding for hours until Hrithika begged for forgiveness and lavished him with his concept of love, which was undiluted praise and obvious submission.

A myna suddenly launched into a relentless chorus, an indignant tirade that jolted Hrithika’s attention.

And as you breathe,” said Lakshmi, “open your consciousness to the other senses. The sounds around you. There is really nothing special about your breath”

Focus Hrithika, she imagined the bird’s melodious censure. I can’t she replied resignedly, a moment short of saying it aloud. Not when her husband embarrassed her like the lecher he was. Not when she could be relaxing in the resort spa, instead of making a show of meditating for Suhaas’s pretentious boss.

She sneaked a glance at her watch. It had just been fifteen minutes. And she had another forty-five minutes to go. Perhaps she should have taken a puff of some of the stuff that the fat pig of the American had offered her before the session. “Directly from Manali”, he had winked conspiratorially, and she had wondered what accepting that offer entailed. Suhaas had been too preoccupied in understanding Lakshmi’s view on transcendence, a word he had picked up a few minutes before from his boss, to realize he had missed a chance to throw a possessive fit, one that would have definitely involved a few accusations about Hrithika’s seemingly inviting behaviour.

“We spend most of our lives consumed by thoughts,” said Lakshmi, in her breezy tone, “One moment we are happy. The next we are gripped in anger. And our minds take the shape of these emotions. Let us for a moment think of something that makes us happy. Think of someone you love being happy. Notice how this makes you happy. How this brightens your mind“

A loud snore ripped through the air, the yogic equivalent of a fart in terms of embarrassment.   Hrithika sneaked a glance in the general direction and noticed Suhaas’ head bobbing, like the head of a hanged convict. She burst into a sudden grin, that escalated into a girlish giggle, that she suppressed with the hurried panic of a schoolgirl. The myna cooed softly, as if in encouragement. The sky was awash with a brilliant hue of orange, and the river below soaked in the warm colors. Hrithika took in a long breath, and felt it sink in like the setting sun, and spread through her like the bliss of nicotine in her lungs. Imagining Suhaas happy wouldn’t do the trick, but this definitely did.

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