So as I farewell Rishikesh I am feeling a little sentimental. I have spent 6 weeks here and it feels like a lifetime and this place almost feels like home. During this time I have completed 2 intensive 3 day courses and a 4 week course in tantric yoga, and, although I wanted to bail a number of times, I feel that I have a better understanding of myself and the energy and power that I have and have learnt a kick arse way of meditating (however, like many things tantric, it’s a secret). I have camped in the mountains with some amazing people absorbing the nature that I love so much. I have hired a scooter and rode to the highest peaks to temples on hair raising roads and been blessed. I have regularly swam in the auspicious magical Ganga. I have met, and heard the stories from, (and been photographed by!) some beautiful Indian people. I have hung out with other travellers and have also spent a lot of time in my own company. It has been 6 weeks of exploring this amazing spiritually charged place and myself within its context. I have had ups and downs, highs and lows, and times where I have not wanted to be here, however I feel a peaceful contentment in the knowledge that I completed what I came here to do and have seen and felt so much throughout the process.
The universe, as it does, is pushing its own agenda yet again! In the first few weeks in Rishikesh, I met a lovely woman with a beautiful soul who has since become a friend. She is involved in a project which is organising people to go into the villages in the mountains to help with organic planting and gardening, building infrastructure, supporting a viable economy, and teaching the children English and computer skills. The villages in the mountains are dying and young people are heading to the city with little or no education and getting very low paying jobs. I had lunch with her and the Indian guy who is heading up and financing this social enterprise and is passionate, yet very grounded, about maintaining India’s mountain villages which are struggling to survive. He explained what they are doing in more detail and although I am definitely interested in being involved, I still feel strongly that I need to continue this journey that I have embarked on. So if this is the way I need to go later, and the stars are so aligned, it will be here when I come back. I would love to do 6 to 12 months in some kind of humanitarian work in another country and the universe keeps putting it out there so maybe this is the direction for me to take down the track. I think giving, really giving, to a humanitarian cause has to be the most highest form of living that there is and I feel that the path I will take is becoming more clear.
One thing I have realised while I have been in Rishikesh is that with the recognition that I don’t need to continue in my current job and that I don’t even need that much incoming cash, the options that I have are huge! More than I have ever considered viable not that long ago. Obviously the lack of steady employment will impact on my life however I believe that the positives far outweigh the negatives and that living only to make money, which, when you leave this earth is of no use to you anyway, is not the way I want to live. Ironically, I am fully aware that my working life and my ability to save has actually allowed me to have these options. It would be wonderful to pay off my home, and to even afford to continue living as I have, however, not at the expense of my sanity and my health which has been impacted on negatively in the last few years. It took me to fall down badly for the seeds of recognition to be sown and for me to heal through a more enlightened understanding of what is important, to come to realise that life is too short to be unhappy and that I need to move towards a long term change of lifestyle. I’m not really sure where I’m going after this journey, however, I am more than sure that it won’t be on the trajectory that I thought was my only option before. Maybe I will go back to my job, however, I will need to clearly see what the benefit to me is (other than the pay!) and what it is I actually contribute to humanity as a whole before this is even a consideration.
I am aware that I am only 2 months into this journey and that so much could become apparent to me as I move on, however I am grateful to the soul of India and the people I have met for the kindness, support and opportunity to explore this beautiful country, and myself, and to continue to discover what is important to me. I will miss India, however, I have no doubt that I will be back. I feel very blessed to be on this journey and look forward to the next chapter in Nepal which I’m sure will be another amazing, enlightening adventure!
What I have learnt in India.
1. I am a very capable solo traveller (so far!).
2. Don’t sweat the small stuff! Life is too short and it impacts on your experiences.
3. Language is important and the way you talk/think about yourself is powerful in determining the way you, and others, perceive you and who you become.
4. Begging is a business in India and by giving money, we support a business which excludes children from education as they make more money on the streets and exposes babies to heat/cold as to make them look more pathetic.
5. No one (at least in Varanasi and Rishikesh) goes without food as there are ashrams and ghats which have food for the poor.
6. India is going through a major cultural change which is slowly changing the face of India.
7. Be careful who befriends you and be aware of agendas (as with everywhere) if you do hang out with the locals.
8. Allowing yourself to be open to new people and experiences, while being discerning, brings lovely people and wonderful experiences into your life.
9. Change can be incremental (generally) so be patient and don’t expect fireworks.
10. Nothing is definite in India no matter how far you book ahead!
11. Limitations are generally a choice. Options in life can open up when your perspective of what is important to you changes and you ‘feel the fear and do it anyway’.
11. I still have a lot to learn!
Hari OM. 💜