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Who is a Guru?

While playing Lumosity, customized online games designed by neuroscientists to exercise memory and attention, my 6 year old daughter was asked to come up with a word starting with gu-. It struck me that like most 6 years old she did not come up with a word gum for example but the word GURU. In Hinduism and Buddhism a guru is a spiritual teacher, one who imparts initiation and knowledge often through oral teaching to a dedicated pupil. I guess all the world travel and 2 years in India have made an impact on her.

This same child has ascended Eifel Tower when not even 4 years old with a twinkle in her eyes and has ever since jumped up and down every time she sees a photo of Eifel Tower at random places. This child has traveled to Hong Kong when only 18 months and has climbed 286 steps to visit The Tian Tan also known as The Big Buddha, while most of her peers have gone as far as Disneyland.  We have visited Disneyland, described as the happiest place on Earth, but when we gave our children a choice after a day in Disneyland, they chose to spend the next day at the beech playing in the sand and waves.

While on my yoga mat, I have often mulled over our frequent moves and uprooting our family every couple of years. As a mother of 2 I have worried about my kids adjusting in new schools, making friends, fitting into a different culture or missing out on some of those cultural experiences. Our family and relatives often offer well-meaning advice on how to raise our kids and worry that moving them too often may not be the best thing. My yoga practice has helped me keep those worries at bay and realize that we are raising world citizens who feel comfortable and at home in any part of the world. My kids have always come through with the flying colors often adjusting to a new place much faster than me and my husband. They have learnt to eat spicy mango pickle in India, sushi in Yokohama, have had Dutch mini pancakes sprinkled with powdered sugar in Amsterdam. And it is my own kids who often strike me with the words of wisdom beyond their years and impart knowledge that seems so obvious but at moments hard for me to see or fathom.

And when a dear friend of mine called me couple of days ago in a bit of a panic over her upcoming trip to India and taking her 2.5 year old there for the first time I assured her that he would be fine and that he would have the time of his life. Even though they’ll have moment of jet lag, tantrums and sheer exhaustion and at some point may wonder if it is worth it, it is this travel and seeing the world that opens our eyes and teaches us invaluable lessons through an invisible guru.

While meditating yesterday and searching for that space in between thoughts a realization came about that every person and every situation can be a guru even if it is a leaning of how not to be. So I embrace our past experiences and look forward to the future travels and lessons learnt along the way.

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Slavica Gokul

Slavica Gokul is a certified Vinyasa, Hatha and Power yoga teacher through Total Yoga in Bangalore, India. She has been an aspiring yogi for more than 20 years. She dedicated herself to consistent practice 9 years ago and while residing in India from 2012-14 underwent teacher training.


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