Discovering my inner self
Laura enjoying the smart way to deal with hills
During my time in Dharmsala I have been taking part in 3 ISP's. My first ISP is Buddhist philosophy which I take at the Tibetan Archives library. There I am taking a class called 37 factors concordinate with enlightenment. It is an advanced philosophy class but a lot of the teachings make sense. It is the philosophy of how to practice proper meditation. I love the teacher. He is a monk but he clearly outlines the class format and everything. He often makes fun of the translator which is really funny. After class I start my second ISP which is meditation. I usually mediate for a half hour on the teachings. In the afternoon I go to my third ISP which is a 2 hr introduction course to the practice of yoga. Our yoga teacher is a true yogi and he teaches us series of poses such as the sun salutations and other things. My purpose of these ISP's is to discover a little bit more about myself and to get an introduction to Budhism before the meditation retreat which will start on Saturday.
My homestay family here in Dharmsala is amazing. My host dad, Tashi, runs a guest house right above our apartment. I have a grandmother who speaks very broken English, but my host mom is amazing. She was a thanka painter for many years and she told me her favorite Thanka was the green tara. Now she stays at home. But I have three siblings who are all teenagers. The oldest is Chuk-ton who is in 12th class and wants to become a scientist. Chuki , my host sister, is in 11th class at TCV (Tibetan Children's Village), and Yishi, is in 9th class at TCV. Everyone is so nice and my family even bought a Chupa for me to wear to see the Karmapa.
Overall I really love Dharmsala. It is a very small town and if you go down in the valley to Lower Dharmsala you enter back into the true India where everyone speaks Hindi and they don't see a lot of Tourists. Because of the Tibet movement Dharmsala is very international. So there are a lot of Tourists, which can get annoying. But I love the jungle atmosphere. The one thing that I don't like are the hills. The hills remind me of the hills in San Francisco. Every day I have to walk back up these hills when I walk back from my Budhist philosophy class. They are so steep and I literally trudge all the way up. It is extremely tiring and painful. But the worst part is when I start to see the center of town I breathe a sigh of relief only to find another steeper hill to climb. But it pushes me and increases my determination. I hope, even though I hate them, that everyone can experience the hills of Dharmsala.