When the day came for me to leave home and travel to the other side of the world, I was excited and super nervous. Leaving my husband at the airport was the hardest part, I almost couldn’t hug him because I knew I would break down and not want to let go of him. Well, I hugged and kissed him anyway, of course and broke down afterwards—walking through the International security doors was so hard, but I managed to compose myself and breathe through it.
My first stop was Hong Kong (HK), to visit my sister who has been living there for just on two years now—knowing that I’d be seeing her helped calm my nerves because I knew it would be three days of sight seeing and girlie time. Those three days were so lovely, the weather was warm, the places we ate at were amazing and the hikes we did were next level—I would have never imagined HK being the concrete jungle it is would have such beautiful and lush hiking trails.
The last day in HK brought with it all of the feels! I woke anxious—I was anxious about re-packing for India, I was anxious about the flight, staying in the Hotel airport and sad to be leaving my sister. But, the day we had together was super fun, with a short hike in the morning followed by what is rather popular in HK, a ‘boozy brunch.’ It was an all you can eat and drink Japanese brunch—the food was next level and the drinks, let’s just say we aren’t big drinkers but we walked out of there pretty happy.
Having to say another goodbye to a loved one at the airport was emotional, but this time I wasn’t going to be greeted by someone I knew at the other end. It’s funny how much of a challenge I was already facing within myself before even arriving in Dharamsala, India. The flights and the overnight airport Hotel stay all went so smoothly, the airport staff were so kind and helpful, which kept my anxiety at bay, along with my own positive reassurance that all would work out just fine.
With very little sleep I finally arrived in Dharamsala and in one peace—lets just say the flight from Delhi to Dharamsala was all the bumpy, a little propeller plane and of course lots of wind and rain made for one turbulent ride. I was so happy to have landed safely and be at my final destination, all I really wanted to do was get settled and make up for almost 48 hours of lost sleep. The good thing was the school had provided a taxi to pick a few others and myself up from the local airport and take us directly to the school. It was nice sharing a ride with a few other young women who were going to the same school, however they were staying for a month’s yoga teacher training.
The taxi ride to the school felt long and the roads were windy, with lots of little traffic jam pocketed streets, no street lights and dodging of cows, dogs, goats and people. We arrived in to the town where the school resided—the next half hour was a little un-expected. We departed the taxi and waited at a travel exchange store, it was not long after we were greeted by a couple of men from the school, who kindly offered to take our bags to our room. The school was another 20-25 minutes up two steep hills, I felt terrible as I must have missed the memo about bringing a back-pack rather than a suitcase. I with every step this young gentleman took with my suitcase on his shoulder, I said the words “I am so sorry.” We eventually arrived at the school and were directed to our rooms, I thanked and tipped the man for helping me with my bag and just sat on my bed. It was in this time that reality hit—I’m not sure if it was because I was over-tired but I just broke down and cried. Looking back I think it was that inner-mean voice telling me I had done something so stupid and that I would regret even being there. This wasn’t the case because as I got settled, caught up on sleep and met my fellow students that night, I did feel a lot more settled and self-assured.
The days to follow were super structured and began at 6.30am, whereby we would meet in a communal classroom, which would usually be occupied by just the yoga students. However, our morning chanting, pranayama (breathing techniques) and meditation were done together, both groups in the one room. The mornings were for silence, except when chanting—we weren’t meant to speak to anyone until 10am. Although, our yoga teacher who we had from 8.10-10am allowed talking in her class. It was nice to have that silence first thing in the morning along with the pranayama and meditation these two hours quickly became a favourite and were something I looked forward to each day. Although I am an introvert at heart—something I struggled with a little on this trip, there was such a beautiful sense of community especially during those first fiew hours of each day. The energy in the room was elevating and awakening—it was like having my morning coffee but without the caffeine. That’s probably a bad analogy but, there was a natural high and energy buzz that I would gain from the morning rituals that kept me feeling awake—sleep wasn’t the best for me during these two weeks.
Just on that piece of struggling with my introverted-ness, I think because there were a lot of moments where I was just in my head, not talking due to times of silence or because of all the meditation we were doing, my inner-mean girl/ego would often get very loud and critical. At times I felt I should be more out going, make new friends and get to know everyone—but that wasn’t my intention for being there. Having such thoughts really opened up a beautiful opportunity for me to witness and reflect on my beliefs about my sense of worthiness and enough-ness. I would often journal at night before bed, letting out whatever I needed to from the day. Many times it included me dissecting negative self talk I had about myself that day but it would always end with a gratitude list, this always redirected my energy from being heavy to feeling energetically lighter. I believe the reason my inner-mean girl got so loud and questioned my enough-ness is because I was more vulnerable than I ever had been—being so remote and far from home gave her an opportunity to cut me down, so to speak.
Back to our daily schedule, lunch would be from 1pm and we would recommence at 3-3.15pm and be in class until 7pm, where we would break for dinner then bed. Afternoons were spent learning theory behind meditation and yogic practices, followed by meditation practicum, each day we would meditate between 3-5 hours. I think, no I know the intensity of meditation allowed me to move through certain feelings and emotions that would come my way during the two weeks. The deeper I went into meditation the more comfortable I became with myself and my thoughts and the more I could see them just as that—thoughts and stories and the less I attached myself to them. I had practiced this before, and it had been apart of my journey especially over the last 4 years, but it was more noticeable during my time in India, there were fewer distractions, with more time and space for me to play the observer of my thoughts. I feel this goes to show how important meditation is in our life, especially in the West where there is so much focus on doing, achieving and being financially successful. The weight of our inner and outer worldly pressures can prevent us from tapping into that one thing that is so important, going within to just be, to reflect and listen to our inner knowing, which is so often hindered by these felt pressures.
Part 3 to come soon...