~ India called & I responded ~
For years, I knew I would travel to India one day. I desired to understand the history and meaning of yoga, I felt a thrill at the idea of traveling solo in such a foreign and extreme land, and most of all, I knew that connecting to India was part my soul's evolution. After completing a Yoga Teacher Training in 2013, I began actualizing my spiritually-driven dream. I made a "Coins For India" Jar and placed it on my altar. Every time I deposited a few cents (or the occasional dollar bill), I knew I was manifesting my vision. I became an obsessive coin saver throughout the years! I saw pennies, nickels, dimes, and quarters as small treasures, yellow bricks on the road ahead. Every saved cent represented material (and vibrational) support in opening up to the grand pilgrimage.
2016 was a year of immense change. My whole immediate family moved from our home town in Arizona (my parent's had lived in Bisbee, AZ for 37 years and raised my brothers and I there) to the Big Island of Hawaii. We all up-rooted and slowly began adjusting to life on an isolated tropical island. The family move was completely magical, exciting, overwhelming, and intense.
Within the first six months of living in Hawaii, I went through a pretty harrowing break-up of a serious long-term relationship. With so many changes going on inside and around me, I felt flipped upside down and broken open (I highly recommend the book "Broken Open" by Elizabeth Lesser that I read during this time!). In Astrology, it is said that the time between the ages of 28-30 is when the planet Saturn returns to where it was when you were born. This planet brings forth a time of forced growth, transformation, and weighty decision-making. I was 29 and started questioning everything about everything. Who am I? What do I want? Where do I want to live? What do I want to create? What do I want to release? What is my soul's purpose? What is life? What nourishes me? How can I serve others? What do I want from relationships? In the months following the break-up, I continued adjusting to life in Hawaii and spent a lot of time in reflection and solitude. I worked towards developing a renewed perspective and disengaging from the roller-coaster of emotional overwhelm. It was a time of healthy, unyielding discomfort as I shifted, released, and defined aspects of myself. There was no better time (and I felt as though I didn't have a choice!) to embrace the remodeling happening within and around.
At this time, India's invitation became more demanding and relevant than ever before and my soul responded with equal intensity, urgency, and potential.
I knew It was time to go.
There was nothing holding me back, except of course...fear. My own concerns, plus those raised by family and friends did cycle through my mind (consistently): “Is it safe to travel to India as a lone woman? What if something happens to me?". These were realistic, practical worries, and they did motivate me to do research and prepare with a lens of caution. But whenever I would get snagged on an imaginary worst-case scenario, I would remind myself that the alternative was to just not go. I could give-up on this idea, I could let a dream go due to fear, I could base my life decisions on the "what-if's". We, as people, tend to do this, often. Fear is a very powerful motivator. It was very helpful to ask myself, "well, what is the alternative? How does that alternative feel?" The alternative (to not go to India) was unacceptable for me in this case.
My inner guide would always remind me, "It's worth it, I have to go". I had come so far and manifested a lot of magic around this adventure. Even when the fears became pronounced, I knew deep down that I was unwavering. There was a inextinguishable fire fueling and filling me with determination and courage.
I counted my coins (totaling around $700, which covered some of the flight cost) and financially committed to the trip. I purchased a plane ticket from Hilo, Hawaii to Trivandrum, India, I paid a deposit for an Ayurveda program, bought a ticket to the the International Yoga Festival, and secured an in-country flight.
I spent the weeks before departure in heavy prayer for a safe, protected journey.
The day came, January 9th, 2017. I flew to the other side of the world in an act of surrender to an inner force guiding me to the next phase of my life.
The intention behind my pilgrimage to India was to take FULL advantage of the opportunity for expansion, independence, freedom, and deep inner connection. I focused on the evolution of my spirit on a profoundly personal level, which unfolded into expanded wisdom and understanding of yoga.
India required the strongest version of myself and I fully welcomed and celebrated her birth. I gained confidence in my ability to discriminate and protect myself, to explore the shadows of my inner and outer world, I developed an unshakable sense of gratitude, and allowed a fiery transformation to take place within my heart. It sounds cliché...but I truly did explore India and discovered myself! I found a sense of my eternal Self as I peeled away my outer layers of identification and attachment. So many experiences in India brought me back to the simplicity of my being by showing me what/who I am NOT.
The following Sanskrit mantra provided me with immense grounding and piercing clarity as I navigated my way through this pilgrimage:
Om Asato Maa Sad Gamaya
Tamaso Maa Gyotira Gamaya
Mrityora Maa Amritam Gamaya
Lead me from the unreal to the real
from darkness (ignorance) to light (knowledge)
and from the fear of death to the knowledge of immortality
The energy of these sacred words offered the most concentrated dose of medicine that I received in India; the wisdom to question what is REAL versus UNREAL in my life. I nourished the reality of my heart and was exposed to the process of re-routing of my mind to live from the limitless heart space within that is beyond thoughts, emotions, and body.
The process of saying goodbye to India was bitter sweet in so many ways. I had gained enormous new insight and adjusted to a severely different environment. I experienced myself in a way that was more raw and open than ever before. Three months was immeasurable, but also flew by in a flash. I cried departing the country, feeling as though I was leaving part of my heart behind. India felt like a home and I knew I would be back.
Upon landing back in Hawaii, I felt a mix of dreamy disorientation, exhaustion, renewal, and again, a sense of being broken open, but this time with a new found inner stability. After A LOT of sleep, the questions began: What now? Where do I go from here? What do I do with all that I gained? How do I integrate back into my life? I felt like an alien in a world that used to be so familiar and comfortable. After three months of intensive personal spiritual exploration, I wasn't sure what to do next or where/if I wanted to root down. After much deliberation, I decided to leave Hawaii for the time being and go work at the Omega Institute in upstate New York for six months. I had worked and lived in the Omega community five years ago; a lifetime. I had wanted to return for years, but the timing never felt quite right. The momentum of travel in India pushed me to adventure back to this institution of healing and holism. I spent three weeks nurtured by my family and the paradise of Hawaii before I got back on an airplane and landed in New York City. Arriving at Omega, It was surreal and totally mind-blowing to be back in such a recognizable place, with a totally different perception of myself and the reality that I create. My intentions behind the season at Omega were to begin sharing the wisdom that I had accumulated (in India) by fully stepping into my power as a teacher, to experiment with a new freedom in my self- expression, and to continue to gratefully process the incredible gifts of my journey.