Some of the first lessons from being in India are learning to go with flow, fly through all the doors that open, and respect that time has a different meaning in this land. I do not have a schedule and wake up each morning as a tiny seed and let the day blossom.
One day, I was sitting with my friends Laurie and Vandita with plans to visit the Honey Hut for chai and chocolate. Laurie received a text inviting us to attend the prosthetic camp with Swamiji (Hindu Monk). Minutes later we were walking towards the yoga hall. I had no idea what to expect from this mini journey.
The local craftsman spent the previous weeks constructing artificial limbs in a makeshift shop. The fruits of their labor were 75 various devices. On that day, I watched men and women from various ages take their first steps in life. One of the most emotional moments of my life that will be etched in my heart forever. On the way back to the ashram, we walked hand in hand with twin orphan girls. We spent about 30 minutes on a bench sharing biscuits. That night at aarti, one of the boys proudly left his crutches on the banks for Mother Ganga and vowed to change the world.
Each night after aarti, we are invited to Darshan where people ask the spiritual leader some questions. There was a group of twenty young adults from Finland and Swamiji asked then what they were doing in Rishikesh. One of them implied that their mission was to map the city. He responded by telling them that while a worthy cause, they would quickly learn about the locations of the bridges, temples, and restaurants. Most of the knowledge would fade with time.
He encouraged them to spend more time working on their internal maps. After pulling the obvious weeds and turning the soil, he urged everyone to go deeper. Using the city analogy, he gracefully explained that spiritual people usually avoid the unsavory activity in the dark alleys of Rishikesh. On the interior journey, he encouraged us to spend lots of time in the darker alleys as that is the only way to remove fear with light. A grand opportunity to meet our shadows face to face.
Last Wednesday at dinner, we were invited to attend a yoga festival in Jageshwar. It was 8:15 PM and the bus was leaving in two hours. This city is approximately 200 miles from Rishikesh and has 124 large and small stone temples that were built over 1,100 years ago. The transportation process was a bus, a train, and another bus. Sixteen hours later, we arrived at our destination. During our 20 hours in Jageshwar, we did some yoga, watched some local cultural performances, and enjoyed meals together, watched world class yogis, and toured the amazing grounds.
On the return trip, our train departed at 7:45 PM with an ETA of 3:00 AM. Laurie woke me up at 2:45 to disembark. We got onto the platform to learn that a train had derailed and we had not moved for 4 hours. I quickly learned that ground transportation rarely exceeds an average of 18 MPH. Frustration with the pace is the equivalent of resisting the present moment. Never a good idea. Instead of whining about the slow speed and cramped quarters, I used it as an opportunity to meet my fellow wanderers and enjoy the Himalayan views. Our group included people from China, Belgium, Hong Kong, Mexico, England, Kenya, and Lithuania, Australia, and Singapore. I am completely filled with gratitude for the chance to visit this ancient city with these incredible people.
I look forward to seeing what sprouts today.