This post is a bit wordy since it is my first day, but I'll be very grateful if you get through the whole thing!
After a 3:45 AM wake up, a flight to Philadelphia, a very small jet to Scranton and an hour car ride spent with my mouth wide open in awe -- I am here!
H.I. is every bit as beautiful as I pictured. Nestled in grand trees and rolling hills, the brick building reminds me of a sprawling school building. Except it's quiet. Let me tell you something about quiet -- it's loud. Monday is no-noise day in the dining hall so I enjoyed my (bland) daal and rice and listened to the music of forks and spoons and sighs. I squashed the urge to make small talk with my neighbor (and to put the whole contents of the salt shaker into my veggies).
My room is modest but comfortable and overlooks some handsome pines. I've quickly made it my own by stacking Walden, the Bhagavad Gita and my journal on the window sill. Unpacking is daunting as I have about 2 square feet of space and a couple of hangers for all of my clothes. And the clothes themselves -- skirts, t-shirts and bermudas -- are laughing at me as the wind rustles as loud as the ocean in the 50 degree weather outside.
The Associate Editor gave me a grand tour and I have gotten easily lost all of today. Luckily, I followed other mats to my gentle yoga class. I aligned my chakras. I opened my heart center. I pleaded with my hips to give me another two inches. I forgot how comforting a yoga mat can be in a place full of strangers.
After dinner I walked back to my room. An Indian woman named quickly sought me out. "You're Ankita!" she said. I was, apparently, famous already -- a few people had been approaching me by name all day. Gayatri had read my name on my door and "gotten excited" with the other Indian resident. For once I am happy to be taken at face value, to be welcomed without question. I realized when she smiled at me that I had been distressed throughout the whole day. I was sad for the notion of being alone. I was worried how I would fare in this spiritual community, where everyone seems self-focused and introverted.
My evening ended when I watched a lecture video by the spiritual head of the institute -- Pandit Tigunait. His words got into my head and I feel at peace as I sit in my room, wrapped in the fluffiest of fluffy robes after a hot shower.
"Say what you are thinking, act as you feel," he said. "The more you exhibit externally what you feel internally, the more balance there will be."