Saturday, June 29, 2013

Pranayama Workshop on a boat cruise in the Aegean Sea, Turkey

When I started contemplating the tour of Europe, Turkey was not even in my thoughts. It was Ashish who suggested Istanbul as a venue and connected me with Gunnur Basar, who is the Coordinator or Auroville International in Turkey. It was my good luck that Gunnur, along with her husband Tugay and daughter Ada were visiting Auroville in February 2013. Gunnur is an innovative healer with fusion of homeopathy and psychotherapy. Tigay plays naei (a long flute like instrument) and listening to him takes me to another world. He also conducts workshops in body percussion and gives interactive music performances and concerts.

Bade and Satish gave me an opportunity to offer a PranayamaWorkshop for an international student group. They know Basars well and they also connected me with Gunnur, strengthening the network. I had no idea how the Universe was conspiring to give one of the most delightful experiences of my tour of Europe. Actually, just not this tour, it is an experience of my life.

To cut a long story short, I came to Istanbul despite the concerns related to the protests in Taksim (insert link). The long bus ride from the Airport appeared to be very short as the beauty of this magnificent city is so captivating that you hardly remember anything else. I was thrilled to travel on the bridge that connects the Asian side and European side! The architectural splendor with the fusion of the various styles over centuries and millennia is beyond words. Gunnur was away and Tugay was my host and his hospitality can only be experienced; it is difficult to describe. I had a day to experience the great city. The walk from Galata Tower on the Galata bridge to Sofya, Topkapi Palaces and Cistern was like walking through History and Evolution of mankind. Galata bridge connects Asia and Europe and I was not in this world when I was crossing from one continent to another, in just a 10 minute walk! Every person I met and talked to was courteous and helped me with a pleasant smile. 

The next day I flew to Dalaman and went to Marmaris, where the boat trip starts. I was received by Elif, a friend and collaborator of Gunnur. I had no idea that I would be staying at her home for the evening. It was one of the most pleasant surprises for me to meet, talk and enjoy the hospitality of Elif and Guray. Guray is orthopedic specialist who went to Kerala to train himself in Ayurveda and now runs a healing center where he is blends the ancient (oriental) wisdom with modern (western) science . Elif is a Homepathy practitioner and a yoga teacher, who has gone through intensive training in India.

Gunnur arrived in the evening along with her daughter Ada and I got a sense of the exciting program ahead. Gunnur and Elif (befittingly) named the program Sifa Yoleuluġu (“Healing Journey”). It was planned in a chartered boat for 16 passengers with a crew of 4; with short bursts of sailing in the Aegean Sea and anchoring in a couple of bays per day. The program is a bold and innovative experiment to blend homeopathy treatment based on personality mapping and complemented with psychotherapy, Pranayama and the salubrious climate of the Agean Sea.

How lucky am I to offer a pranayama workshop on board a boat in the beautiful Agean Sea and enjoy a cruise which is out-of-this world. The sessions went off very well on the top deck of the boat; with the ozone charged, cool Mediterranean breeze in the turquoise blue waters with golden sun shine. It was an exhilarating experience in an ambience charged with positive energy.
I continue to be in awe of the commitment of the people I met for their spiritual progress, yoga and wellbeing (they are all One). The boat has yoga mats and cushions because many of their customers want to practice  yoga on the cruise. The participation was awesome! The case of Mr. Teken is interesting. He was suffering from insomnia for several years and was on a dosage of two sleeping pills per night; and finds it difficult to sleep till the early hours of the morning and sleeps for less than a few hours. He slept well with one pill and a simple practice of breath mindfulness. It is not the tool or technique or the teacher – but the participants who produces results with their practice. All others are pointers like the sign boards at the cross roads. To reach the destination, one has to walk the path! To witness that walk and share the exultation of the result is very satisfying and fulfilling to me.

On my way back, Guray picked me up at a small village along with Esra and Cağdaş; a couple who are his friends. On the way to Marmaris, we stopped at a quaint sea side village where Esra and Cağdaş were looking at a property for buying to switch to an entrepreneurial mode to provide high quality, affordable hospitality. This was a very interesting and novel experience for me.
When we reached Marmaris, I met Salma, Elif’s mother and Hayal, Elif’s daughter and Ada. I must have put on a lot of weight in the short time, thanks to the excellent Turkish and Mediterranean food that Salma served us with so much loving care and gracious hospitality. It was a boon to me that I could be part of this blessed home for a couple of days and I enjoyed every moment of it. We went to the beach and water world and it was fabulous to be with this wonderful family.
On the last evening, Esra and Cağdaş came over after dinner. It seems to me that Turkey made exemplary progress in all dimensions under the leadership of Ataturk. The most rapid and spectacular was the dimension of liberal life style that left the choices to the individual without restrictions based religion. My sense is that Turkey today is very similar to Amsterdam and is a model for others to emulate. This liberal aspect is coming under pressure and the people appear to dislike it and are protesting against the move to go back to restrictions. To participate in the protests, people either make a noise from their homes for about 5 minutes or go to the Town Square and stand in silence, holding placards. We went to the town square and it was an experience for me to stand there for a few moments and also observe the impromptu meeting after 10PM. It is an important event that I became part of and I am sure that the people of Turkey would win in their goal of freedom and peaceful life with individual choice. Starting from Moses, history has proved it again and again that the aspiration for freedom always wins. As Gandhi said “The dictators and oppressive leaders appear to gain control for some time. But they all fall”. I felt privileged to witness the aspiration for more freedom. Freedom is the foundation of Human Unity and my days in Turkey revealed to me that Human Unity is manifesting.
What I experienced is that the people of Turkey are fun loving, easy going and very pleasant and hospitable.  Now, I have been expanding my circle from the day I started this journey to stay with my family members in USA. It expanded to Auroville International and then to people of Amsterdam and now to the people of Turkey. I belong to mankind and we are all ONE. I take this experiential wisdom as I leave Turkey, with a heart filled with gratitude, peace, love and a sense that ‘I belong’. Thank you, Turkey. Thank you, the people of Turkey. My special gratitude to Tugay, who is peace personified; Gunnur, who smiles more than any other person I know and radiates such joy and happiness; Guray, who seems to be living in the moment, flowing with the stream of life; and Elif, who is a bundle of energy and a radiant presence that makes everyone to be at ease in her presence. I am lucky to have them in my life and their “Being” has greatly influenced my Being.

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