Memories of my month in India this time last year~
Can’t wait to go back but also so grateful to that journey for the shift that took place… for the silence and time “alone” (Yet, never alone!) that spoke to me and inspired true and deep healing, growth & transformation.
Realising that when I left, I could find a way to take my piece (peace) of India with me and keep it forever ~ Feed it and nurture it and expand on it ~ was the key!
It started with the commitment to myself to keep up the daily ritual to make fresh masala chai every morning. Just as I learnt to in Pushkar, with the traditional pestle and mortar I bought there. Bashing together fresh ginger, black pepper, cardomen pods, cloves (And my added Western flavour, cinnamon sticks) and boil away with strong black tea, milk & lots of sugar.
This daily practice was sacred to me at the time. It reconnected me to a feeling, to a state of being, a presence, a mindfulness that I’d started to experience in India.
Realising that when I came home, I could find a way to build on the internal and spiritual work that started in India is what somehow led me to the Art of Living Organisation. And become a part of a group of beautiful humans who are also on the path of spiritual growth and expansion. My Monday group Kriya (mediation) is what centres and sets me up for my week.
I’ve recently started practicing Vinyasa yoga twice to three times a week and after a strenuous practice where mind, body and spirit merge into a central light, quietness and joy come so naturally. I spend at least an extra 7-10 minutes seated in stillness on my matt relishing in this glorious state of being and awareness.
Thank you India for really cementing this in me.
I never really knew why I had this INNER pull and longing to visit you for so many years… but *courage* is a love affair with The Unknown.
• Let yourself be silently drawn by the strange pull of the things you really love • It will not lead you astray•
That I know for sure!
A year ago, things hadn’t gone exactly as planned. In fact, ‘the plan’ crashed and burned in the most spectacular display of chainsmoking, shaking, shock and disbelief. And after an almost unhealthy dose of tears and disappointment for the loss of a fantasy, for the humiliation of having even taken such a blind risk for ‘love’, for having to face the failure. I remember repeatedly saying to myself “it’s just such bad timing!” (Right before my India trip!)
When I verbalised to a dear friend via a sobby WhatsApp message on the train to Heathrow, she responded with,
“Maybe the timing IS RIGHT”
And the penny dropped. The timing WAS right.
The heartbroken setback propelled me into the most glorious spiritual comeback.
I doubted “the process” of this journey. Because YES! the heart needs a moment to just FEEL it all. The highs and the lows… But I’ll never doubt it again. It couldn’t have happened in any other combination or string of events.
A year ago today, when I thought it had all fallen apart ~ it was in fact a massive turning point, the dramatic climax that every incredible narrative must have before resolution begins.
I remember posting the following words on Facebook as I checked-in to my London-Dehli flight. This narration from an India-based movie that moved me sooo deeply, that I cried through and scribbled down many years beforehand.
This collection of truths at some point had sung out to me in one way or another. And on this day, a year ago I knew a tremendous shift was happening. I knew this because each and every line was relevant to me at that moment in time.
The penny settled onto the Heathrow INTERNATIONAL terminal floor:
The only real failure is the failure to try.
And the measure of success is how we cope with disappointment. As we always must. All of us, in our different ways.
We get up every morning, we do our best. Nothing else matters.
But it’s also true that the person who risks nothing, does nothing; has nothing.
All we know about the future is that it will be different. But, perhaps what we fear is that it will be the same.
So, we must celebrate the changes.
Because, as someone once said,
“Everything will be all right in the end. And if it’s not all right, then trust me, it’s not yet the end.”
~ The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.
The heart knows the answer. And I trust it.
When the heart isn’t clear. The soul’s knowing will eventually shine through. I trust that.
And the Universe has a plan. I trust it.
It’s been a pretty universal “go to” phrase for about 2 years now. When things go wrong, when we are confronted with harsh realities or impressions we don’t want to face. When we want to climb over and sneak around an issue ~ the advice we are given and even, often, try giving ourselves & others is “let it go”
Oh… just let it go.
Sounds simple to some ~ impossible to others but in my personal and witnessed experience, completely ineffective & therefore, self-defeating.
We’ve got it all wrong.
Let it go ~ How one’s meant to do this has always boggled my mind. I mean, surely if I had the choice of something affecting me mentally, emotionally, subconsciously I would choose for it not to. If we were robots we would of course push the OFF button. It’s neither choice nor mechanical programming which allows us to release what no longer served us.
We’ve got it all kinds of wrong.
Magically detaching from something that’s hurt, dissapointed, angered or broken you isn’t an option.
Asking yourself or advising someone to simply let this go is a recipe for resistance and frustration… and, well, failure.
What you resist, persists.
What you fight off or suppress ultimately comes back with gathered momentum and avengence. You can’t let something go that’s holding onto YOU in return.
Where did this wisely-stupidly-ill-informed phrase come from?
Fear. We fear going there. We fear sitting with unpleasant feelings and an unsettled mind. We think that if we talk ourselves or others into LETTING something GO it will ease up. When what we actually need to be told is to go through it.
Let it be.
A simple change of verb.
Let it be.
Don’t be scared to process what you’re struggling with.
Yes … I do understand that sounds like a scarier method but if you realise that everything is temporary, everything is always changing, you’ll recognise that owning where you are and allowing yourself to be there, knowing it won’t always be this way, that it will pass through you ~ that’s a release in itself. You won’t feel this way forever.
Unless you resist it.
This goes for everything. Your joys and sorrows. Practising the art of stillness when we want to race through our suffering and pop up on the other other side, ideally, unscathed.
This is the journey of our souls growth and development. It takes us down as well as up, demands that we face, even embrace, pain and darkness as well as joy and light.
LETTING IT BE trains us to use whatever comes up and wherever we find ourselves as occasions for inquiry, for opening, for growing in strength and wisdom, and for walking (not running or dodging) our own path.
Like a butterfly landing on your hand,… how long will it stay? No one knows. But you know it will lift off when it’s ready, when it’s given you the message it needed to give you and when you’ve opened up to receive it.
What you do know is that it’ll be gone before you know it.
So, for now ~ Appreciate this moment for whatever it is and…
Let it be.
It all started at Bride&co one Friday afternoon, where “always a bridesmaid, never a bride” syndrome took the reigns…
I was having a fitting for one of my oldest friends weddings and at the same time supporting an old student in a wedding dress hunt.
She wanted my advice and asked me which dress I would choose.
I looked around at the rails and rails of mass produced shiney meringues ~
“HONESTLY? I wouldn’t take any of these FOR FREE”
As I said that, I caught a glimpse of lace and in all it’s simplicity was drawn to the single unimbelished dress in a fish-tail design which just so happened to be too beautiful for words, and a size 12, perfect for my pretty Libyan student. It fit her like a glove. I watched her whirl and swirl. In MY dress.
It didn’t take long before I hung up the bridesmaids dresses and snuck into the changeroom, with the lace gown, true “bridesmaid gone rogue” style and slipped it on…
Holding it tightly behind me to make it fit my size 8 frame, I walked out into the viewing room. My student’s jaw dropped (probably innitially horrified) as I stepped up onto the elevated platform infront of the mirror and turned just enough to swoosh the fish-tail perfectly.
As she snapped a sneaky photo, the manager came around the corner. And just as she’s trained to do and say, she uttered all the right sounds of approval and made all the right eyes- followed by “When’s the special day?”
“Oh. No no no… I’M not getting married… I don’t even have a boyfriend…” I said with a huge, proud grin.
… I’ll just stand here a little longer and absorb this princess moment. Unengaged. No Mom or future Mom-in-law or best friends gasping and weeping “That’s it! That’s the dress!”
Non of that. Just me and my reflection and my “fuck normal”mentality. Like… Who says that a competely and utterly single 31 year old has to wait for someone to love and accept her for all the glorious madness she is until she gets the opportunity to stand exquisitely beaming in a long lacey (or meringue-like) bridal gown and feel magnificent? Who says?
Insert [Independent woman rule #1]
YOU DON’T NEED A MAN
Do your thing honey!
Slot in all kinds of girl power anthems here: ‘Man! I feel like a woman’ – Shania Twain, ‘Girl on Fire’ – Alicia Keys, ‘Stronger’ – Kelly Clarkson, ‘Fight Song’ – Rachel Platten…
I left Bride&co feeling beautifully silly and liberated. I didn’t fear having put a jinx on my married/unmarried fate. I had simply broken the ice of anticipation for a moment that won’t make or break my life. I felt all powerful, complete and unstoppable.
(And if you’ve read any of my stories before, you’ll know what happens the moment I’m contently not falling in or recovering from love – when my heart is strong and unfuckwithable again… when I’m so okay in my own skin that I truly am not interested in men. You have an idea of what happens next, right?)
This energy carried me into the night. A friends birthday excitement led to a few tequillas and a little bit of carefree spontaneity. I was keen to dance and so was everyone else.
…and then, all of a sudden, the party animals were tired and wanting to wake up early on Saturday morning. On the first night in forever that I actually felt like being out and about. And with that, they went home. And with that – well – I didn’t.
I took myself to my favourite club, to my favourite platform a little above the dancefloor and without a second thought I was dancing… but not alone… AMONGST a sea of other dancers. Why would I stick out from the rest?
That’s a legitimate question I’m asking. Why would I have not looked like just another girl in the crowd? Why were people so drawn to me? Why was I being asked “Who are you here with?” by men and women alike?
“I’m seriously impressed, I never thought I’d meet a girl who’d have the guts to come to a club alone”
I smiled and shruggled (like it was the most normal thing in the world).
The energy I was emitting was clearly magnetic. And from the corner of my eyes, there were men, hovering…circling… I really didn’t give a shit, I was celebrating freedom from conformity – I didn’t want to talk, I didn’t want to be hit on with seedy remarks (as per usual), I was very happily dancing on my own.
And then like all predictable cliches, an equally magnetic boy with a cute as hell gap in his teeth comes around for the third time. I couldn’t help but show appreciation for his vibe with a slight smile and … damn, like with most male/female courting, that signals acceptance and submission and he came in for the kill.
Less aggressively than I’ve stated, much less in fact, he was a rather smooth cat. Like his hair.
“Who are you here with?”
“Just me” in my nonchalant manner.
(I found out later that he’d bailed on his mates and come alone too).
He brought me water, told me he’d been attracted to my energy from across the room and asked if he could take me for a milkshake soon.
I teased him about being gutsy enough to see me in the light, not realising the lights were already on in the bar, as it was closing time.
He saved my number in his phone as:
The following day one of my more freesprited friends told me SHE wouldn’t even be brave enough to go out dancing alone. Others expressed how much they’d love to be able to do it. And only then the realisation of how possessed I had been settled in. It was a pretty bold move and the residual effects were beaming.
What has followed this unusually satisfying day is a story for another time. But what I do know for sure is this:
The moment you stop looking. It finds you.
And I’m not speaking soley about love or the perfect man.
I am talking about that illusive inner contentment we all chase.
You can fake a smile and put on your brave face as we all have to ~ to get through the dips in this ride. But energy doesn’t lie. When that moment of TRUE self acceptance, universal love and gratitude hits you within – it radiates outward. It attracts other beautiful energies like a blossoming tree buzzing with bees.
And we can all agree that The Universe has pushed my buttons of late, pushed me into what felt like dark corners with names I wanted to forget being screamed in my face until I cracked ~ Taken me deeply through a process of seeking more (and finding it) and ultimately letting the light come in through the broken bits, and for all of that, I had one wish.
“I’m sick and tired of sexy men with ugly hearts.
I want to fall in love with someone’s kindness & compassion.
I want to fall in love with someone’s heart & soul.”
The Universe has made it clear to me.
(No matter what comes of this. No matter what comes next.)
The universe has one response.
It’s a very EAT PRAY LOVE concept to go on a silent retreat. A few days, up to 2 weeks of living a communal life of yoga, meditation, service, knowledge and awareness.
Why do people wish to be staying together with strangers? Sharing rooms, toilet and shower facilities, meals and a meditation space, as well as free time in nature, but in silence…
The opportunity arose for me to do the advanced meditation course only just over 2 months since I did my part one meditation programme through the Art of Living. A new community I’m becoming a part of. A community of spreading love and growing in awareness and accessing a deeper connection.
I won’t get into the teachings of the Guru, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar this time round, though I’m sure this knowledge will start flowing through into my words in these notes.
So, off I went, throwing myself into yet another ‘I have no idea what this is going to be like but I want to do it so badly’ experience.
Since the massive disappointment of the guy I was hoping to be falling for and vice versa – despite the brief, but I thought ever-so-true 8 day encounter, long distance contact (or disconnect however you prefer to see it), followed by the impromptu spontaneous Berlin loved up (in hindsight lust-up and ultimately fucked up) bliss, the name… his name… short and not so sweet – Ben – has been everywhere.
And it didn’t halt in silence either,… Let’s brush over the fact that he decided to message me, after 4 months of nothing, the day before my mind was supposed to go into a space of calm and quiet.
No, says Universe. Not a chance!
The thing is, I realise this is exactly what was supposed to happen. It wasn’t meant to be calm and quiet from the get go, silence is POWERFUL but not necessarily peaceful.
Of course, the cutest guy on the course would have that same name. And of course, as per Art Of Living ‘welcoming protocol’ we should hug and express an equilimity of spirit by telling our fellow students, face to face, “I BELONG TO YOU”… I found this irony humorous at first, I could see the Universe giggling down on me and I humoured it with the biggest and falsest smile I could muster “I BELONG TO YOU BEN !!”
My sense of humour took a back seat when on day 2 (an already mentally and physically challenging day, no eye contact, long and tedious meditation processes) we were told to shift our yoga mats and meditation spots and I found THIS-BEN sitting in front of me, and unlike anyone else in the room, he stuck his name tag to the back of his chair.
I reassured myself that it was just another more than subtle test from the Universe and that soon I’d be closing my eyes for meditation. Blocking it out. Going internal… A few minutes later our session began, and the Guru shared with us what we’d be embarking on in this practice.
An “Open-eye Meditation” ~ staring 90 degrees ahead, straight ahead. Straight at the name.
Not so subliminal messaging anymore.
I cried and cried. I sobbed. I thought I’d have to remove myself before the cries became audible. I thought I was heading deep into a dark hole of convulsions that I’d never be able to claw myself out of. The anger. The frustration. The utter desperation of just not being able to escape this presence latched on stronger than it ever had before.
Even when I got back home after my 3 months away and returned to my job where the one and only new teacher was, you guessed it, named Ben. With his pigeon hole located directly right above mine. I hated it then and I was despising it now. It was just too blatant to be ‘coincidence’ and simply too much for my heart to bear. But I kept breathing.
And then, all of a sudden, without warning and almost over-dramatically it let go. It felt like it got sucked out the top of my head, with the type of resistance you’d see with a plunger until it finally releases.
And I was free. I can’t remember if I felt that then ~ I guess I didn’t know that the resistance to the name had left me for good and finally I had a new, beautifully spiritual Ben to associate these triggers with.
By the final day, during our nature time, I found a labyrinth in the garden which I stood on the outskirts of.
The instructions where pretty straight forward.
Set an intention.
Be present for the six minute walk.
Have no expectations. (Well, that takes the pressure off.)
To this day, I can’t recall exactly what the intention was that I set. I seem to remember it had something to do with forgiveness. A forgiveness I was struggling to find within. But what I do remember is wanting to press record on the inner dialogue (more like inner battle) going on inside my head for about 5 minutes until this clarity set in, an answer, a sense of peace and understanding that may seem simple now but was monstrous then. At that moment I glanced up slightly, I saw that I was only a few paces from the centre. “No ways…” I nodded my head and smiled to myself with the knowing that all was okay. All was well. All made complete sense.
Unfortunately, I can’t type those words out. All that remains is the feeling and memory of that heightened awareness.
But that’s all it needs to be, you can’t stay on the top of the mountain forever. You need to come down. So why climb in the first place, you say? It’s simple. What’s above knows what is below but what’s below doesn’t know whats above. There is an art in conducting oneself in lower levels with the memory of what there is above.
That’s AWARENESS and I’m HOOKED.
As I stood in silence in the centre, church bells started ringing. Yes, there was apparently a church next door and yes, it just so happened to be 10 o’clock on Sunday morning. I stood there with my eyes closed and as I let my head fall back and opened my eyes, gazed up between the leaves of the tree above ~ deep deep down I felt it filtering through my pores. It was peace. Everything in me rested in satisfaction for the blessing of the journeys I take myself on.
Loving the light but in some (semi-masochistic) way loving, equally, the dark.
When what I needed to face set in, and ruined what I expected to be a ‘mindful timeout’ I didn’t know why I had voluntarily signed up for such a damaging programme. But by day 4, as I raised my arms and walked my way back out of the labyrinth, taking each step in a (completely natural yet) trippy bliss – stroking trees, appreciating the leaves, running my fingers along the bark, feeling SO a part of it all and questioning WHY we as humans look but don’t touch, how we lack connection and sensitivity of sensation, I knew it was a place I’d take myself again and again.
In silence the connection is deeper, after you’ve passed through the zone of isolation, the clarity is awakening. It is where we need to keep returning. Through the breath and within our being.Where the answers sit, waiting to be unlocked.
** Oh, but there’s more – “Did the BEN triggers just stop there?” I hear you say.
Well… Not just yet,… A few days later I was walking back to my classroom when I glanced into the empty class next to mine. Only one desk-chair had a paper name sign stuck to the front of it and of course, we all know the three letter name that was written on it.
My heart didn’t stop. My heart didn’t drop. I burst out laughing, in fact and looked up at the… ceiling… and shook my head. “You can stop it now, Universe. This doesn’t shake me anymore. What’s your next trick?”
I had to take a photo and send it with a giggle to my closest friends who were absolutely astonished “SEE! I’m not imagining it, am I?”
And after that little follow up check from the Powers-that-Be, the name’s finally stopped haunting me**
**taken from a voice note reflection at the end of September 2015, a few weeks before my best friend passed away & who had spent so much of her life wanting men she couldn’t have and suffering from rejection which brought her soft heart so much pain… so much emotional and ultimately physical pain that the doctors misdiagnosed her cancer until it was too late**
To ‘ live for today ’ sounds so irresponsible – it really does… and me, in my ‘touch wood’ healthy body, I don’t feel the need to make my timeline shorter and make things happen faster, or do things sooner because I ‘might not have enough time’.
you don’t think that way
nobody knows these things
but right now it’s all I’m doing, and everything is shifting into perspective
my friend is lying in a hospital on another continent and her life is potentially ending and all i can think about is what she’s thinking about now
Dear G*d, i wish i knew if she’s thinking about how stupid it has been to spend so much time worried about people who don’t give a shit about her, spending so much time stressed out and unhappy and consumed by someone who doesn’t deserve it for the fear of being alone. for what? how long?
we don’t know.
wouldn’t you rather be happy in your own skin, content alone, for as long as that might be – for as long as we’re blessed to be – rather than wasting a minute on someone who doesn’t appreciate you or ruins even one of the precious days you have?
I know it sounds so airy-fairy, so much easier said than done, but I’m really starting to think now, you know, I am… I’m putting stuff out there… I want to go to India – I WANT TO GO TO INDIA! and? what’s stopping me? what is actually stopping me?
NOTHING’S STOPPING ME
but I keep letting something stop me
I’ve got the money, I’m lucky enough to have some money to spend
I’ve always been a compulsive saver, saving up for a rainy day – saving for next year – saving for something better
Being cautious – saving for a future
and i don’t want to be pessimistic but I’m starting to feel that…well… I’m so much more aware of the fact i can’t count myself out any longer, I can’t say it’ll happen to somebody else, it won’t happen to me… Is that the way we live?
we just don’t know.
we spend so much time thinking about tomorrow
thinking about what we should say – what we could say
what we should do – what we want to do
problems – complications
we spend so much time planning… what’s the right move, the right next move and we always think that we have time, we assume that WE’LL be fine and nothing will happen to the people that WE love and WE’LL be safe
we think that we’ve got the time to question this, that and the other
we never think that this sort of thing will happen to us
we never think that we might not be here tomorrow
or that our loved ones won’t be here tomorrow
and now I’m thinking – if you knew that you had so little time left, what would you actually do?
Would you say everything you want to say? or would you put it off?
would you book that trip for next month? or would you push it into next year?
what would you do if you had to face the reality that you might not have the rest of your life, and those years that the rest of your life is expected to hold…
do you know?