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Holy Mother and the Return of Living Daylight

Community Updates admin-awakening-truth Friday, 15 May 2020 Hits
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Photo curtesy of Jeremy Bishop and Unsplash


Perhaps some of you can relate when I say that over the past few years the living daylight was beaten out of me. More often than not, days were a struggle. My energy was unreliable, and mind states were variable. Instead of a bright mind, mostly I was living with various shades of grey that affected my outlook as much as it described my energy. I came to India with a strong intuition that the Ayurvedic treatment would help.


The main Dhara treatment, dripping cool oil on your forehead while simultaneously pouring hot oil on your body, is designed to create a flow state and allow ones systems to come into a new homeostasis. It is effectively used for people with strokes, various neurological disorders, as well as sleep and anxiety disorders. Dhara treatment is deeply regulating to the limbic system. It’s not used unless you are able to stay at the hospital for one week after the Dhara treatment is over as doctors want assurance that you are reconfigured sufficiently before leaving. During the treatment, I felt as if I became more liquid than solid. Visually, my body appeared solid, but my internal sense was of a flow state, moving and shifting energy. I was at ease with this.


Before the main treatment started, I had negotiated with my doctor to allow me to go to the Snake Temple, a 10 minute walk away, as that was my favorite place on the campus. It was a relief she agreed. However, on the first day I was making use of my dispensation a mosquito bit me. I had an allergic reaction that took a while to settle. With my system extra sensitive from these treatments the wisest course of action was to follow thier recommendation – stay inside during the rest of my treatment.


Initially, I was restless. Since a young child, I have had the pull to be in nature, to go to wild places of beauty and power. When I’m in places like that I relax. I change focus from the thoughts and feelings I’m experiencing to resting attention in awareness itself. Awareness open and expands, becomes vast. I feel content and resourced; peaceful. Being confined inside the hospital, I was forced to look at the assumption and the duality that was underpinning my desire to go into nature. Nature is in nature. It isn’t outside. When nature is seen as the place where access to presence is possible, it is like the elusive lover that you can’t be close enough with. Rather than being a source of comfort, it is perpetuating a sense of dis-ease.

Ayurvedic treatment is designed to balance the elements of your body and detox. Between these that were holding so many roots of illness in place and the loving care from all the therapists, the therapy itself that rewires the brain, releasing the duality that nature is outside, and releasing more layers of greif, I began to feel the living daylight return; the luminous mind, the sweetness of kindness, care and goodness. It was like a clear luminous light all around and within me. Even when I felt momentary unpleasant experiences – oil that was too hot on my skin, a therapist moving my arm in a way that pressurized my joint and caused pain, the unrelenting solidity of the therapy table, smell of smoke from the field nearby, someone distraught around me, my predominant experience was being in a sweet, luminous loving light. I was swimming in it. After a while it started to sink in, continuing from one treatment to the next and then after I left the hospital.


Internal structures shape how I view myself, the way I think, the lens that I see the world through. They arise because of various conditions. Sometimes they release with insight knowing how they have arisen. Sometimes they release over time persistently noticing them and not get overly identified with them. Sometimes they release when they are replaced with something else to focus attention. Sometimes they release when you get what you never had. In my particular situation, these treatments gave me just exactly what I needed.

After 44 days of treatment, I left the Saranya Aryuvedic hospital and went to Varkala, a beach town 7 hours south via train in the Indian State of Kerala. It has been a tourist site for 20 years. For the past 2300 years it has been a pilgrimage place for people to do ceremonies for loved ones who have died. At the south end of the beach is a temple. In the early morning there were hundreds of Indian people engaging in the ceremonies, making offerings at the temple and at the individual Pujaris (people who do puja’s) that made sand mounds where they sat and conducted the ceremonies.  The Indians would take their rice offerings and feed them to the crows, putting flowers in the water, often going into the ocean fully dressed.

Pujari who did ceremony for mom, dad and grandparents with temple in background


I ended up staying in a spacious and quiet place a 4 minute walk from the beach. A large group had left the day before I arrived, and for much of the week I was the only guest there. It had everything I needed.I talked with the 5-year-old daughter of the owner, walked to the ocean, meditated and walked on the beach, swam in the 84-degree ocean water in the early morning and late afternoon, shopped, ate meals at various restaurants and slowly I started to feel less liquid and more solid.


After a huge day for me–waking miles, listening to music and singing at the beach, and meeting with one of my mentees online, my friends invited me to join them for dinner at 9 PM. It was the first time in over 30 years that at 9 PM I was able to go out. It was such a sign of life returning. I was bursting with joy!


After Varkala Beach I went north 2 hours to the Hugging Mother’s Ashram Amritapuri, also in Kerala.  I stayed there a week. So much happens at the Ashram! It is filled with chanting, ceremonies and receiving darshan from Amma-ji herself.

Amma’s presence is powerful. Her mind is not shaken by the changeable circumstances of the world. Her imperturbability combined with her resolve to help living beings is the compassionate grace that she exudes. What has arisen around her is mind blowing. This ashram houses, feeds, chlothes, provides allopathic and ayurvedic medical care and education for three thousand residential devotees. In addition, she has multiple universities. The school of engineering that is near the ashram is considered one of the top universities in India where seventy percent of the student body are women. Furthermore, Amma’ji has built many Allopathic and Ayurveda hospitals and an international philanthropic organization dedicated to furthering self-reliance in villages, education, environmental sustainability, empowering women, taking care of the elderly, orphans and disaster relief.


I loved listening to the women renunciants and devoties in the Kali temple – the most beautiful building with the longest standing time of Amma-ji’s darshans chanting the 1000 names of the Divine Mother, their voices loud and clear. It is healing to have the Feminine up held, honored and revered.


Earlier, while at the hospital I learned of the CoronaVirus outbreak. There were three confirmed cases from Indian Nationals who returned from China. They were isolated in a hospital and there were no secondary cases. All three recovered. While I was at the ashram, suddenly India had 30 new cases, all from foreigners. The government required all ashrams to have daily health checks and quarantine people coming from certain areas. As this was not manageable, Amma-ji’s ashram stopped allowing any new foreign or Indian people to enter and or the first time, cancelled public darshan.


I had planned to return a week early as I was feeling well enough to fly. I’ve had my own little adventures getting home. I had a sore throat. Ordinarily that would not cause me concern. But since we are in the middle of a coronavirus pandemic where sore throat presents in 5% of the cases, I wanted a doctor’s advice and assurance before I travelled. The Doctor checked me out, was not concerned, and was fine with me travelling home.


I returned to the US on Tuesday, March 10th.


My health and the living daylight have been restored. Filled with the blessings of the Holy Mother, so very glad to feel well and resourced, it is time I’m home.


Post Script – As the Ayurvedic treatment was so powerfully tranformative, I plan to return January 2021 with a small group of experienced students to  augment the Ayurveda with meditation and intentional community. Details will be soon posted on website.

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Amma Thanasanti is the founder of organizations Awakening Truth and Whole Life Path. She is a California born spiritual teacher dedicated to serving beings. She has been committed to awakening since she first encountered the Dharma in 1979. As a former Buddhist nun of 26 years, she combines the precision and rigor of the Ajahn Chah Forest Tradition and a passion for wholeness. Amma invites you to pause to see what is liberating at the core of your human condition while also considering your well-being, your ability to know and and advocate for successively complex needs and integrate these into all aspects of daily life.
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