Dividing Delhi B • 19 January 2010

I have, like they say, eaten too many chapatis. Actually, it was the “special” thali at Green Leaf: ten little aluminum cylinders of dals and squshes and beets and sweets my body didn’t recognize, plus three kinds of bread, rice and (oddly) coconut ice cream. When in South India….

But still. Woah. Too unfamiliar too soon, for a digestive system accustomed to apples, almonds, kombucha and kale. I’ve sat alongside two beautiful lunches since that thali, spectating while the belly rumbles and squeaks. Can we get on with it already?

During the first sun salutations this morning, I broke out in the wrong kind of sweat. Cold sweat. Greeeeat. Vision went black jumping out to triko, felt it going again in UHP. What does that have to do with Delhi belly? Why am I letting the lingering thali diffuse so far?

I had two good vrittis there at the end of standing. Where is sick? And everything is infinitely divisible.

The first is from a story Howie Cohn told on both retreats I sat with him. Journeying far into the mountains to see some nondualist teacher (Ajahn Chah, if I remember, but maybe not), he arrived on the tail end of a debilitating illness. Greeting him, the teacher asked "Howie, How are you?” And Howie, his identity fused with illness, launched in to a description of how awful he had been feeling, emoting with the words, “I’m so sick.” To which the teacher demanded, “Where is sick?” Howie found he couldn’t answer. Sick was no longer the case; sick was not him.

The second is something Robert Thurman says, describing the emptiness at the heart of reality.

So, transitioning from standing to sitting, there right in front of the humungus painting of SKPJ hung in garlands, and there between two very stable practitioners linking breath to movement like nobody’s business, there in a giant room filled with 75 deeply focused people and zero physical or verbal bullshit, I went about dividing the Delhi belly.

First I cut the DB in half, restricting it to the bottom half of the body. No more blacking out and wanting to fall over. Then I zeroed in and in and in… recognizing that the trunk was in general very dynamic, and actually so was the abdomen, and in reality so was the stomach itself. Large intestine… check. Small intestine… gurgling. But only part of it, some pits way down in the center. God knows how long that coil of mine would extend, but I divided and divided the pain until it was tiny. By the marichyasanas, real-life pick-ups were happening, and by the exit from bhujapidasana, the squinch up in to bakasana didn’t bother at all.

Weird. An hour later, someone asked me “How are you?” And I said, “Delhi belly.” Pfffffft. The identity will take over, and lead me to believe I am somehow not fine, unless I actively pursue the sensation down to the pit and isolate it there. Lying here on my bed in the evening, listening to the orphanage kids squeal across the street and feeling my breath recover from the walk through town, all I can find at the root of the so-called sick is my solar plexus pulsing a little more strongly than usual.