Hazy Meditation Day

It came, and quite possibly went, in a cloud of dust:

Those of us who gathered in El-Azhar park on Saturday 18th to join in the worldwide day of meditation faced a few challenges probably not found in a forest ashram … Wind, air laden with dust and, by the afternoon, a thunderstorm passing over Cairo.

It may be spring in Cairo but there is still an unpredictable element, and that’s the weather. We are now in the month of Baramhat by the agricultural calendar (a system based on ancient custom and still observed today, especially by farmers). This is associated with Montu, the pharaonic god of war, for whom at least one pharaoh was named – which may explain a thing or two about yesterday’s conditions.

Early in the day the dust had not arrived, and I enjoyed mango trees in flower:

Passing beyond the elegant walk where the mangoes are planted, I came across citrus, a mix (I think) of bitter orange, orange and lime trees. The wind had blown quite a lot of blossom to the ground, but the perfume of oranges trees in flower was still delicious, and I loved the starry carpet:

Citrus blossom on the groundBy the lake, we practised pranayama and asanas, the former a little easier to do than the exercises in a crowded spot on uneven grass. Where better to do tree pose than in a park, you may wonder, except you do need a smooth surface to balance properly. So we wobbled around, showing little inclination to hold steady in a breeze – more like ships at sea than trees standing tall in the forest.

From laughter yoga to Raja yoga meditation: We tried a little of everything, passing from quiet and still inner contemplation to exuberant laughing along with our neighbours and back to withdrawal to the peace of our inner space. It was a great morning (I couldn’t stay through the whole day), a breath of reviving air whatever the weather chose to do. On my walk back through the park I was rewarded with sightings of a lovely stand of Bombax malabaricum trees, and what I think was Parkinsonia aculeata – all in flower:

Once back home, I heard the thunder rolling overhead as we caught the southern edge of a vast and turbulent weather system affecting the eastern Mediterranean over the past week or so, and – by next morning – found lettuces and beetroot in the raised beds covered in great blotches of dusty dried rain drops. What an odd day it had been!

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