Sunrise Meditation In Three Countries – Travel Notes
I have not come to appreciate the beauty of sunrise, and the beauty of being awake to witness the sunrise until I hit my mid-twenties.
Before that, I was too busy staying up way too late, and waking up too late. In fact, I was way more likely to witness the sunrise from the other direction – the evening before, after pulling an all nighter, and even then, my nose would be firmly buried in a book – not present enough to appreciate something that happens every day, no matter how magical.
Every sunrise is magical, but these three stand out…
I wish I could stay longer, yet… I feel like I have to keep moving.
I’m sitting in a little concave window-like opening in the wall at one of the ghats on the Ganges river. Hundreds of pigeons are huddling together, picking at bird feed thrown down by tourists.
“You want boat, madam?”, yet another Indian entrepreneur approaches me as soon as I settle down.
“No. I just want some peace”, I respond truthfully. He quickly disappears.
It’s before six in the morning, the sky is turning pink, and I have not slept. Now the river is alive – boats passing, Indians bathing, pigeons eating, bells ringing. Dead animals, yellow cloth, the smell of burned flesh. Mother Ganges. Colorful chaos and cacophony of sounds are two things that make India India.
How peculiar that the dirtiest waters in the world managed to arouse to many emotions in me. As we take a boat tour to watch the sunrise few days ago, the first glimpse of the sun coming up at the horizon turns me into a teary and slobbery pile of goo. I cannot stop crying.
Here in Varanasi, I recovered from my first (not last) food poisoning of this trip, saw the Ganges, watched the aarti ceremony, put five candle floats in the river, and now cried at sunrise. Getting yet another cold sore, and getting bitten by a million bed bugs was not on the agenda. Oh well. When it comes to variety, intensity, and flavour of life, this city tends to overdeliver.
Well played, Varanasi. I will see you again.
5.23am. I grab my headlamp and a sweater, and head out to the beach. The sun will come up any minute now. The beach is windy, and, as I find a rock to sit on, this is the closest I have been to “chilly” in weeks. It’s still dark, but the roosters already gave away the surprise, and the lighter shade of blue is hinting at daylight.
Coral – ten minutes later.
I am trying to pinpoint the exact location on the line of horizon where the fiery circle will make her presence known.
Splash of tender orange.
I get up and walk to the line of the water, anxious to miss the appearance of life itself. I pace along the beach. Chickens, conscious of the wide shouldered silhouette of a predator bird above, decide to keep me company.
Yet yellow is the last precursor to the magic.
My long-winged friend soars above the beach, riding a pocket of air, not a single muscle moving.
There is an expression in Russian – “waiting for the weather by the sea”. It refers to idle inactivity – time when you should really be doing something. That expression does not belong here, right now. I am not idle. I am waiting.
A panicked thought arrives… What if… she is not coming? I am desperate.
Tight and round as a marble.
And just as perfect.
Once she emerges, she does not stop.
I have been waiting for her.
Life is so short, and I’m running out of time to live everywhere. The more I travel, the more I recognize the bigness of the world, and the more overwhelmed I feel. The only solution is to pause wherever you are, and to look around. Look around hard, stare even. Pull yourself into the present moment.
So I stare. I wake up, go upstairs, tiptoe towards the kitchen, so as not to wake up my hosts, and put some water on the gas stove. Ground coffee, French press, and a thick mug add up to happiness.
Time to stare.
Stare at the mountains through the wrap around windows, and gush, and wait. It’s getting lighter as I write – perfect lighting for weepy, sentimental writing.
It’s a good sign.
I finally get up from my chair when the sun edge appears – my favorite moment in watching a sunrise. I stand by the door, leading onto a deck, lean on the glass, stare at my favorite fireball and cry.
“Hi, beautiful! How was your night? I missed you!”.
When I cast my gaze down, the page is ablaze with red and yellow glare.
Surely, meditation was invented by someone who did not watch sunrise while drinking coffee. If you ever tried it, you’d never need meditation again.
I may not be able to take you along on my next sunrise excursion (I wonder where my next sunrise meditation will take place!), but I CAN share a bit of my morning with you.
I was first introduced to Morning Roast coffee at a recent Coffee & Tea Expo in Toronto, and have reached out to them directly. Morning Roast is a specialty coffee company that was started by two childhood friends. It is located in Toronto and is dedicated to roasting coffee in small batches. If you want to try their coffee, they are shipping Canada wide!
If you asked me ahead of time, I’d predict that my favorite would be the Ethiopian Yirgacheff (and it did not disappoint – I loved the hints of orange and peach with the chocolate aftertaste!). But it was the Colombian La Palmera that blew me away. While I am usually not a big fan of Colombians, this coffee was perfectly nutty, with notes of toffee (another favorite), with a light touch of flowers.
Waghi Valley from Papua New Guinea was another pleasant surprise – I have not tried coffee from that region previously, and loved the clean crispness with just a bit of lemon. (And, if you want to impress a coffee-drinking triathlete in your life, there is also a Hawaii blend – 100% Kona!).
Folks at Morning Roast Coffee were kind enough to provide some coffee beans for me to give away, which means you MAY be getting coffee in mail! Enter the giveaway below. [Limited to Canadian readers].
Have a friend who loves coffee? Send them this link, so they can enter too: