20 May Meditating my way through India: Part 1
– Janice Tang, Hong Kong
“As a third culture kid who was born in Hong Kong and raised in Canada, I was ready to explore India with open arms and an empty stomach.”
As part of my Master program in International Management, it is a requirement to complete a 10-week internship anywhere in the world, aside from my home country, Canada. With such a golden opportunity, I decided to venture off to India and take an internship at Zoojoo.be in Bangalore, India this summer. To be honest, it was a tough battle to convince my parents, who are very traditional in their beliefs, but the victory was quite sweet. I would say that I am a globally minded individual who is very open-minded to immerse in a new culture and lifestyle by interacting with the locals. I had the privilege to study abroad in three different cities, including Koblenz (Germany), Beijing (China), and Milan (Italy). As a third culture kid who was born in Hong Kong and raised in Canada, I was ready to explore India with open arms and an empty stomach.
I first started meditation a few months ago because I wanted to learn about the Indian culture. In fact, the history of meditation traces back to the ancient India. One of the oldest forms of meditation came from Hinduism, the world’s third largest religion, found most notably in India and Nepal. Meditation techniques were found in Indian scriptures dating back in 3000 years ago. These images depicted meditation postures, illustrating figures sitting firmly on the ground with crossed legs, hands gently placed on their knees, and their eyes partly closed. Since then, the history of meditation has evolved over thousands of years, keeping strong roots in India. I knew that meditation would be a good first step to understand the history and culture of India.
First week in Bangalore, India.
When I first arrived to Bangalore, I was struck by all the chaos on the street, jam-packed with cars, motorcycles, people, street dogs, and even wild animals, like cows. The streets seem so frantic, lacking structure and organization. I almost felt like I traveled back to the early 1970s when China was still in development phase. In all honesty, I wasn’t mentally nor physically prepared to absorb all these drastic changes in such a short period of time. I thought I was more adaptive than this but it didn’t take long till I felt homesick. I missed the familiarity of being in a modern urban city. I missed being able to go wherever and whenever I want. I despised how men and women are still treated differently in some social settings. I couldn’t stop the negativity from hovering my mind and impacting my emotions.
“I started to look at everything with a sense of curiosity and with an eye of immersing myself in the experience.”
Meditation in the first week was brutal because my mind kept wandering in circles. I tried to accept the feelings of being homesick and depressed. I convinced myself that I need to live up to my decision and be more adaptive to the surroundings. But the harder I tried to control my mind, the more emotional I got. The first step to recovery was acceptance. I started to accept my feelings. It’s okay to be homesick. It’s okay to experience culture shock. It’s okay to overestimate my adaptability. Just accept all these emotions and be engaged in the present moment. I slowly realized how ignorant I have been. Yes, India is very different from the majority of the world but it’s the reason what makes it new, exciting, and dynamic. I started to look at everything with a sense of curiosity and with an eye of immersing myself in the experience. Instead of being annoyed by all the honks on the road, I treated it as a little musical symphony by relating to my passion for theatre. Instead of being grossed out by men urinating in the public, I treated each moment as a form of entertainment. I am a lot more aware of my senses to hear, see, touch, breathe, and taste. I am slowly letting go of my feeling of being superior and learning to get my hands dirty by interacting with the locals.
I can’t say that I have fully conformed to the Indian lifestyle but I am taking baby steps along the way. My secret is to meditate my way through India.