Taj Mahal: magical! each visit

The India Retreat was hard yet very rewarding and my group was brave 🙂

I just got back after a 12-hour delay of my flight from Delhi to Newark! We were given the news at check-in but very thankfully they shuttled us to a hotel. I had the pleasure of getting to know one of my fellow travellers, a young woman from Indiana. She is a yoga teacher/personal trainer and was part of another group. Within the first few days of her trip she became very ill with Delhi belly and spent the week in a hotel bed on antibiotics. She couldn’t eat anything but plain rice – they got worried for her as she wasn’t getting better and decided to send her home early, while the rest of the group continued to explore Rishikesh. You can imagine her frustration – mad at everyone, alone and ill at the Delhi airport as her entire India trip was ruined and now her flight was delayed.

I am grateful. So many things could have gone wrong in our itinerary which was logistically complex.

Diya lighting in Thiruvanthapuram, Kerala

My subsequent solo journey of the India retreat was rewarding too. I am grateful that my meeting with the Ayurvedic teacher, Dr Jacob Vadakkanchery (the one in white to my right in the picture, as well as in the poster behind), went really well with an unexpected perk. It was the inauguration of his statewide speech tour and I was invited to light the diya along with Swami Agnivesh, a fiery 81 year old social-justice warrior (the one in orange). I plan to continue my studies in ayurveda with Dr Vadakkanchery to further what I am able to offer.

India… I can’t wait to visit, then I can’t wait to leave! The amazing sights, the energy, the crowd, the noise, the suffering – it can be too much for our senses. Incidentally, the next India retreat I plan to lead is in August 2021!

The times I was most peaceful was when I was spending time in nature.

We live in a world where everything seems to be moving fast. We often say or hear, “where did the week go” or “it’s Friday or October already.” Is the time actually moving faster or are we?

Author Carl Honoré said, “Urban life itself seems to act like a giant particle accelerator. Especially when people move to the city, they start to do everything faster.” As a result of this increasing speed, many of us are feeling either constantly stressed or tired. This is part of the reason why connecting with nature is more and more important to me. Whether it’s taking time to walk in the woods, watching a caterpillar crawling along a branch, pausing at the creek to listen to the water flowing or witnessing the slow movement of the clouds across the sky. Moments in nature reconnect our heart, body and mind with the true rhythm of life – the rhythm and speed in which we were evolved to move. Slower. It’s the way our ancestors once engaged with nature – which many of us have lost through the advancement of modern culture. Nature or wilderness can provide a holding environment so that we can relax the ways we chronically constrict ourselves.

We can start simply by being mindful of when we are rushing. Also we can become aware of how our mind regularly gets caught up in rushing—in making plans that cause us to strive, struggle and push ourselves. If we can take some time to reconnect with nature – we can be present and appreciate the joy of slowing down. I find myself, while waiting for the pedestrian crossing lights to change, taking a long breath in and then taking slightly longer to let it go. As I wait for the walk indicator to appear, I let go of the tension around my shoulders.