By Abhishek Thakore
Only in Mumbai local train can you practice a plethora of spiritual techniques, witness a beautiful interplay of opposites, and display of human emotions
One of the top 10 spiritual destinations of the world is surely in India – and it is the Mumbai local train. Nowhere else on the planet do you have such a wonderful opportunity to practise a plethora of spiritual techniques, as well as witness such a beautiful interplay of opposites, and such a display of human emotions. However, the caveat is that these benefits fully manifest only in the peak-hour crowded locals on journeys that span at least one hour.
The start of the journey is a lesson in practising the power of now. As you wait for the train, you are surely going to be drawn into the future – into a time when the train will actually be on the platform. But be warned! The actual boarding of the train requires you to be intensely present in the moment. You have no choice but to be totally alert and present – any thoughts will mean you board the train much later. Where you end up inside the train is also an indicator of how present you were – the more the present-moment awareness, the deeper you will be able to get.
Now the journey begins, and in many ways the journey mirrors the path of the seeker. With its highs and lows, ups and downs, the crowded train is a beautiful metaphor for the spiritual journey. One of the immediate things you will have to practise are complex postures of hatha yoga. The train being so crowded, you will automatically be pushed into postures that will stretch your body at different locations. This is a privilege available only to those who stand.
The crowd of people will also automatically subject you to mass hugging – a totally intense expression of love. With each passing station more and more of your kind come into the train, squeezing you into a river of love. In this blissful state, you will be able to (or rather have to) practise deep breathing to remain alive. The super advantage of deep breathing in this space is the opportunity you get to develop tolerance and acceptance of the human body’s potential for odours. As emotions, thoughts and reactions sweep through you in vast waves, thank your stars for this fantastic chance to accept the what-is. This is also a great time to practise the law of pure potentiality by taking time to just ‘be’ – the practice of silence. There are others who use this opportunity to practise the law of giving by giving their seat to others.
The journey itself mirrors the interplay of opposites – total speed outside and total stillness inside. Between stations there will be total stillness. On the halts there will be dynamic activity. For a long-distance traveller, the challenge is to be a detached observer, centred in the knowledge that this too will pass.
This is also a beautiful opportunity to observe control dramas – aloof passengers who quietly tolerate everything, interrogators who question the way you are standing, the meek pleading for space and intimidators pushing everyone around. In this process you will observe your own control drama and see how passengers right next to you have contributed in forming it.
Before you know it the journey will have come to an end – and the joy and euphoria of reaching your destination will be unmatched. As you alight the train take a moment to express gratitude to the wonderful spiritual experience, something that comes at a fraction of the price of spiritual workshops and retreats, and yet so powerful that it will change you forever.
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