Guest post graciously contributed by Mary Honchock.
How Hanuman Helped Me Pack My Practice
So, just a quick recap of Hanuman the Monkey God. Hanuman was the son of the Vayu (god of the wind) and a devout woman (a vanara, a monkey being). He was a powerful and mischievous young god and many of his adventures resulted in the other Gods either aggravated by his tricks or involved in his rearing. Eventually, he was cursed to have no knowledge of his powers and only in his service to Rama did he use them. He is known as “The Great Devote”. Now why would the mythology around this deity help me to pack my practice?
Hanuman is a trickster by his nature and he not knowing about his powers makes him even trickier yet. When faced with demons, obstacles, or tasks to accomplish; he only uses what he has at that hanuman_1moment. Whether that entails growing large to make the demon, who is trying to swallow him, have to grow even larger. Then Hanuman shrinks instantly to sneak away! Or whether that means letting the demons light his tail on fire, only to grow his tail longer to burn them. He uses his powers like a bag of tricks to help him get through the hard things in life. It is in these legends that I found my inspiration.
Since my life has taken a strange turn back into aviation, I have wrestled many demons and mostly they are my own. But the biggest demon I currently wrestle with is giving up my daily practice. There are always valid reasons not to practice. I have been working since 5 am…I am in a weird hotel room and I am tired and hungry…I have been trapped at the Philadelphia Airport all day in an ice storm. As the excuses mounted up, my daily practice turned into a five days a week practice. Then, it slipped four days a week. Then, it slipped farther three days a week. What a slippery slope indeed! But then, Hanuman came to mind. A frequent power he uses is to change his size at will, making himself as big or small as he desires. Well, why can’t my practice have those same powers? Instead of wanting the perfect place or time, why can’t I make my practice the right size to fit the situation? Now, I have renewed my diligence to shrink or grow to my daily ritual. The minimum I allow is usually 15 minutes. I have learned to even shrink the tools I need for these practices so they come everywhere with me. I have yet to meditate in the baggage rack of the Philadelphia crew room but I will get there one day. When no one is around, of course! That is what I will be doing with my Mala and Hanuman statue. Reminding me that we all have powers we don’t know about and it is in the faithful repetition of our practice that we find them.
It is in this Hanuman inspiration that I have started developing a bag of traveler’s tricks. I have daily rituals of all sizes. It is now part of my practice to fit my daily ritual to the situation rather than finding a situation that will fit my ritual. I expect every week I will have to use my bag of tricks. On the road, it is not if an obstacle will come your way. It is when and what will it be. The larger my bag of tricks, the more likely I will be able to scoot around it and practice.
As our wonderful teacher Kathryn often says, “Ayurveda does not tell you what to do, it tells you how to do it.” Over and over again, I have found that using the Ayurvedic principles as a guiding light (rather than a strict compliance) has helped me see the light in many difficult situations.
So, what do you do when you travel? I am sure we have many traveling Ayurvedics in our group. What are your travel tricks? Is it the food you bring? A guided meditation that helps put you to sleep? Or is it a practice on the hotel bed because the floor is too yucky! Let us share our tricks and in my next edition, I will bring them all together for a Traveling Ayurvedest Bag of Tricks. Together we will be more prepared when tapas is low and excuses are high!