On our last morning in Nepal, in ancient Bhaktapur, our carved wooden oval window looks over a scene of deeply rooted patterns and a rhythm of life that’s as unfamiliar to us as it is automatic to Newari’s here. How profoundly their or our daily rhythms must be shaping our lives even when we are unaware how unique they are.
My morning rhythm at home has a run, Starbucks, a drive in traffic, and maybe some depressing news in it. Not so bad. But via our Dragons trip, we were immersed in the radically different daily rhythms of monasteries, an ashram, Newari Artisans, and Nepali family life. They are each distinct and so different from mine.
Out our window on this last morning in Nepal, life in the 700 year old square starts about 4:30am. Rituals here are an engrained & living practice in giving, hoping, appreciating each other and whoever created the world. Bells ring, chants start, drums and symbols clang, and the murmur of neighbors chatting rises up inside and outside the ancient temple.
A stream of walkers of all ages turns three times, touches statue and then head, bows, and submits to some higher aspirational power extant in a statue, flame, or spot (not all the same one). Women bring offerings of rice, flowers, fruit, and yak butter lamps to give and receive the abundance of life. Incense wafts about. Old women anoint the ground, the temples, their foreheads. Flames are lit to remove impediments to happiness. People of every age participate. They talk and laugh too. And then they go on to school or work or to be together.
At the Ashram it was community service work each morning together. At the Monastery it was chanting Puja at 6am to higher powers each day together. In Patan it was a temple walk (there are so many) amongst neighbors.
Maybe sometimes we westerners dismiss such activity as out of date, old fashioned, or superstitious. Maybe so. But these daily rituals also connect the trials and suffering of life to timeless human values of respect, mutual care, gratitude, and aspiration to be the best (people or incarnations or manifestations) that we can be. They tend to be social, historic, and looking upward. I wonder where my pattern leads when I rush daily to run, coffee, traffic, maybe even meditation, and focus on just DOING things.
Our Dragons trip immersed us in alternate Rhythms of life, behaviors, and attitudes that are vastly different from our own. Knowing them I feel more aware to connect my own patterns consciously to the attitudes and spirit that I really want in life. My morning routine could intentionally recreate some of the goodness I see out the window in the morning here. While I know returning home will be its own (not yet welcome) disruption, I am eager to be newly aware that my own Rhythms in life might shape my life for the better if I choose them with Nepali rhythms as inspiration.
Time to board that plane and take new awareness of the power of life Rhythms home with my backpack.