Rishikesh has been challenging on a number of levels. I initially found it more isolating than I did Varanasi. It is a place of contemplation. Having broken (?) my little toe on the first night and once again managing to contract yet another cold has slowed me down which is great on one hand however being occupied and busy walking definitely limits the sense of loneliness. For the first few days I spent a lot of time sitting on the steps of the Ganges, reading, with my feet in the water. It was interesting watching people going into the water and sometimes talking to them. They were mainly Indian people from other parts of india, mostly Delhi, coming to spend time near the Ganges. This river is so important to Indian people. They travel hundreds of kilometres to put their feet or whole bodies into the freezing water.
I started at the tantric yoga course a few days after my arrival which took up a lot of my time for three days as it went for around 8 hours a day. The course had lots of young people from all over the world. The teacher is probably one of the sexiest women I have ever seen. She is from Romania and is very in touch with her sexuality. At first, the sense of loneliness was amplified for me being in a room of people and not feeling a connection to them or the practice. I realised that I really do struggle to put myself out there when it comes to meeting people. I also realised that although I have done a lot of work on myself in the last couple of years I have very definite strong blockages in my body and my chakras which stop me from experiencing what others were experiencing. I think it’s partly because I’m Australian and, although spiritualism is accepted on some levels, we are a pragmatic bunch that don’t generally see outside of our lives which involve work, owning a home and fitting in with others. I also think that my history has a huge influence over my inability to open up to new things. I look at these young people who are so open to travelling and experiencing whatever they can. They don’t focus on working or owning anything other than the experiences they are having. When I was their age I had a family and massive responsibility (which I did not do so well) and my experiences were limited by the constraints of that situation and my total lack of confidence to do something different. Having children almost gave me an excuse not to live. So now I am trying to catch up on experiencing a different life which is a wonderful thing however has some complications due to my age and lack of experience and confidence. I have felt, at times, like going home and curling up in my bed in my little house and staying there for a very long time, however I recognise that I need to keep going on this journey. I think in some ways it is the most important and influential journey of my life and I am not going to achieve anything if I crawl back into the safety of my life at home.
The three day tantric yoga course was interesting. For the first two days I found it frustrating as I couldn’t experience what others were experiencing and felt like a failure. I also felt no connection with the people I was practicing with. On the third day I felt a strong connection with a few of the participants. There are two in particular. One young woman who lives not far from me in Australia and has a very similar study/work experience to me. Her ability to critically think and empathise amazed me and I’m looking forward to catching up with her when I return. Also a young man with a beautiful soul who is so different to me in so many ways however we connected for some reason. On the third day during the last meditation I also found my warrior women again. Throughout my life I have had to manage a lot of pain and have been completely depleted at times however I always managed to get back up again, to rise out of the flames of despair and to be the strong woman that I was meant to be. The last few years have been incredibly challenging and I realised that I completely lost sight of my warrior woman self and I have been frightened of so many things. I have found her again and she is beautiful and strong and determined. She is a part of me that I need to hold onto as her strength will give me the power I need to live my life fully. I will be attending the next stage of the course however if this is all I get out of it I have received much more than I expected.