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Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, United States
Karen is a yogini, writer, student, teacher and meditator. She founded Garden Street School of Yoga in 2000. Karen lives with her husband Chris. They have two amazing sons, Eli and Leo (both of them young men).

Jan 17, 2009

A Mamallapuram Morning

The early mornings here are amazing. Actually, the early mornings everywhere are amazing. There is a teaching-- in Chinese Medicine it's called The Cycle of Tides and in Ayurveda it's called Dinachharya – specifying which hours of the day are best for which activities. Early morning is definitely an ideal time to be awake and do your “practices”. It's one of the best times to meditate or pray. And it is THE best time to breathe deeply – either doing breathing practices like pranayama or just being and breathing and moving. The morning air is said to hold more energetic charge (prana / Qi) than at any other time of the day.

Here in India, I wake early every morning to the sound of chanting. Sometimes I know it's real chanting from outside my head – at a nearby temple. But other times I think it must be in my head – like a song that keeps running. I wake up usually at 4 or 5. If I didn't get much sleep, I am not exactly happy to be waking up. Sometimes I manage to get myself back to sleep and sometimes I get up and meditate and walk. Without fail, if I get up I am clearer all day long – and also less tired. If I go back to sleep I feel a little foggy less energetic through the day. OK, it's true – this is the same thing I've known and even been teaching for a long time. I guess I am just enjoying being freshly surprised to experience it here in India. And wake up to chanting is really magical.

Meditation and prayer are the same everywhere I think. And like everywhere else, I find them deeply necessary here. At home it's a little easier for me to fall asleep (pun intended) to how much the early morning practices set my compass, line me up with a flow of grace, open me up to be surprised by the day. It's easier to remember here, because as far as I can tell this entire culture is woven, warp and woof, with devotion to the sacred.

Here in India, when I go out walking early, sounds of prayer and chanting are interspersed with the sounds of sweeping – everybody seems to be greeting the sacred and sweeping clean their bit of the world. People are lighting candles, burning incense, chanting and praying at both household and public shrines. The sacred is entirely unveiled in the early morning. I hate it when I sleep in and miss all that unveiled beauty.
This morning was a little different. I did wake up to the sound of chanting. And I did get up to meditate. But after that I got myself gathered up to make a Skype call to my (EHS (Entering the Heart of Shiva) study group. Rainey, Sundari, Denise and myself had agreed over a month ago to connect – it would be late afternoon there and pre-dawn here. I have been looking forward to this call – really anticipating hearing the voices of these remarkable women and sharing how our study and practice is going. And so......the morning of The Big Call had arrived.

I quietly slip out of my room and cross the courtyard where I see a taxi driver climbing out of bed – the back seat of his car. I make my way to the hotel's Internet access room. All the lights are off so I silently slip into the narrow space and very carefully feel my way in the dark room, thinking I will rely on the light from the computer monitor once I get it turned on. And then, in the space of a minute, I have startled awake no less than 6 men. I didn't think that space could hold 6 men standing up but in fact 6 men were sleeping there. These are hotel workers. They work hard – really long hours – and then sleep on floors and in the back seats of cars. This morning they got less sleep because an “international” was groping around their bedroom.

It is such a boon, such great good fortune, to have a life that allows me to get up early and practice and contemplate.......I really get that here – I am not a hotel worker whose day ended at midnight and starts before dawn.....who sleeps on an unpadded floor in between those times. When I get up I'm not instantly on someone else's clock. Instead I have an opportunity to practice.....I can make a choice to be on the clock of the Sacred....That is HUGELY great good fortune.

By the way, the call did not work out – the Internet was down... again.


  1. So Sweet! And yes, it's so fortunate that we have lives that allow space and consciousness to practice. What a great awareness. I so look forward to your posts each time. Love, Karen Faunce

  2. sorry your call didn't work out Karen. Love the pictures of your room with your traveling partner, heehee. wonderful!!