I’m waiting here solo at international departure lounge in Delhi with too much time on my hands, thinking of the transformational gift of travel.
Visiting other countries – especially on yoga retreats, where we practice yoga daily and care for ourselves so deeply we receive the beauty of experiences in a profound way – is one of my favorite things to do these days. I don’t buy new clothes (like, ever) rarely spend money on my appearance, and have lived in the same small little house in a very un-sexy Shoreline neighborhood since 2001 (with a 2001 Seattle mortgage – who remembers those?!).
Occasionally I think: I should upgrade to a cooler neithborhood or a bigger house. Maybe a nicer car.
Traveling: That’s where I wish to spend any extra income I occasionally accumulate. When I get out of the States, I feel sheer relief of escaping our toxic political climate and unplugging from the constant, exhausting, stream of phone stimuli. Primarily, though, the transformational lessons I learn and the love I receive while adventuring are my motivations for keeping my passport active.
I’m aware of how lucky I am to have this luxury.
This was my 6th visit to India (this lifetime anyway) and each visit has brought me to my knees in very different ways; always with a life-altering lesson to learn.
2016: Accepting destruction
Two years ago, the energy of destruction was present at every turn. Behind the scenes, our 2016 retreat to India was crazy. Several things went pretty wrong on this trip, including my relationship with a once-beloved colleague, which *finally* burned to ashes during our time in India.
It was for the best; we both desperately needed to be free for several long years at that point, but I had been resisting the inevitable for some time. Let’s just say that letting go isn’t my strong suit.
Of course, India would always
nudge me toward bitch-slap me silly for what I wasn’t willing to see for myself: if I didn’t surrender to the inevitable cycle of life of all things, then India would do it for me…. and it was not pretty.
2017: Devotion to God.
Last March, I came by myself to Rishikesh and spent 18 days praying in the Himalayas and next to a beautiful Ganges tributary. Between daily sunrise meditations, intense asana and kundalini pratice and a connection to the sacred land, I felt the presence of God in a way I’d previously thought impossible.
Prior to this visit, I’d made it almost a life mission to subconsciously prove to myself the divine was not for me. Rationally, I blamed this on a charged relationship with religion growing up, but in reality I’d say too much vulnerability, I suppose. It’s frightening to put trust and faith in the unknown. Much safer to be a cynic.
The lessons India’s sacred mountains and river taught me last year: Faith, trust, devotion.
2018: In service to others
This visit. I hadn’t expected to be met with heart-wide-open-love and generosity at every turn. Our group retreat travelers were easy, engaging and delightful. Working with Kate Towell was a dream.
But it was nearly every encounter I had with the people of India which peeled open my protected heart – from a kind, empathetic, masseuse I visited often in Goa (okay, so he wasn’t Indian… but who wouldn’t get all googley over Marco from Sweden?) to our Delhi-Rishikesh bus driver who was so loving and happy, *even* though he was driving a group of travel-weary-tired Americans 15 hours round trip through the night, which couldn’t have been fun.
There was a Varanasi chai-wallah down the street from the hotel who recognized me FROM TWO YEARS AGO with a huge smile… and to the any number of the stunning Indian people who took care of us along the way; if there’s any chance you’re reading this, you know who you are.
To all of you – being in your kind heart’s presence helped mine to heal.
This visit’s fall-on-my-knees-lesson: life feels better lived heart-wide-open and in service to others.
There is nothing like a retreat – especially one to a foreign country. These immersive experiences and connections tend to heal the body, create mental clarity and cause profound transformation. We smile a lot on retreat and return home in a pretty good mood.
Pleaase come away with us to Italy early this fall. I mean, is there any country more delicious than Italy?
Claire Stetina and I invite you to retreat with us to Tuscany in September. In the Italian countryside, we’ll spend 7 days meditating, practicing yoga, being in community and experiencing all the deliciousness of the generous Italian people and culture. You’ll also save $300 if you register by April 1.
I write this as I’m leaving India tonight, as usual after traveling, a better version of myself than when I arrived. I wish the same for you in all your adventures!
Tuscany: Space is limited. We currently have 4 spots left:
One single room,
a shared double and
a single spot (female) in a double.