How to describe Enlightened India 2019?
How to describe Enlightened India 2019?
One of the places we explore in Rishikesh is the ashram of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, founder of Transcendental Meditation (TM), and the place where the Beatles came to meditate in the late 60’s.
The place is a magical, mystical experience! You can feel the energy and spirit of the once bustling ashram and its devotees. There are meditation huts dotting the land, including the famous hut #9, that can be traced back to John Lennon’s voice on the White Album repeating the phrase: “number 9, number 9”.
As you walk along the paths, filled with hundreds of butterflies of all shapes and colors, you can imagine hearing mantra being chanted in the now defunct meditation hall, or hear some bird sound that George Harrison may have heard.
With an incredible view of the Ganges river, the ashram sits atop a bluff, steeped in an atmosphere of peace and stillness. It’s a wonderful place to explore and lose yourself in the past as well as find yourself in the present.
Truly a favorite outing of our group!
Tuning In, in India. I’m supposed to be home studying so instead, I made a movie of some of my favorite moments in India. I’m chanting the Adi Mantra, which I recorded in India, while it was still dark outside, sitting alone in the yoga hall, and the monkeys were banging around in the trees outside as the sun rose.
“Ong Namo Guru Dev Namo” which translates to: I bow to the Creative Wisdom, I bow to the Divine Teacher within. This mantra is used for “tuning in” to the divine flow and self-knowledge within each of us, and linking us to Yogi Bhajan and the Golden Chain of teachers in Kundalini Yoga.
It was a day like any other day, the day India called me. It was unexpected. India was only “sort-of” on my list. There were other places ahead of it. I was scrolling on Facebook when I saw it: the Invitation. It said, “Come to India with us!” I stopped scrolling and clicked. As I did, something deep inside me said “looks like I’m going to India” and that was that.
Then, by chance, while volunteering at a workshop, I ran into Roxanna; she appeared self-confident and poised, her inner beauty almost outshining her outer beauty. We had been introduced before through a mutual friend, so I mustered my courage and approached her. I said, “Hi there, I’m going to India with you.” She was surprised, and smiled a huge smile and said something like ‘This is wonderful! Once you make the decision, your trip has already begun.’
When I got home from the workshop, I talked to my partner about it and we both knew right away that even though this was a ‘big’ trip, it was to be taken on my own. I paid my deposit that day. I was elated and terrified all at once. I didn’t really know why I was going to India, I just knew that I was going.
After some deep inquiry, I realized it wasn’t about checking another country off my bucket list, the reason I was going to India was for me. This was about my spirit, my soul, my growth – it was an internal shift.
The itinerary was outlined, the activities were planned, I knew I’d be in good hands and kept safe – all I had to do was show up. Show up in India, but really, it was about showing up for myself. How many times had I really done that? How many times had I gifted myself instead of someone else? Now was the time.
The trip itself was incredible and heart opening. Spiritual tourism had always called to me but somehow, I’d never done it thinking I could do it myself, faster, cheaper, better. But this was different. With this trip, I had the invitation to let go of the details, let go of the responsibility and to let go of my own control issues. In the letting go, I was able to experience the present moment.
I’ve always been spiritual, I have great faith, but this was an opening of grand proportions! I experienced an unraveling inside me and then a reweaving. Admittedly this didn’t all happen in my 15 glorious days in India, much of it happened once I returned home over a period of three years. It’s taken that long for me to ‘unpack’ it all and put my experience into words.
Now I am preparing to return to India, a place I now consider home, a place I think of daily. I am once again in a place of emotional inquiry about what else is there to know and learn. However, instead of stressing out about not knowing the why of everything, I just smile to myself because I’ve experienced the flow of the Ganga (the Ganges) and I understand that all will be revealed to me in the perfect time. ~ Julia Myers Patterson
It’s the sound of the bells that I remember most. The ring ring ringing. The tone true and pure. Even today, thousands of miles away at Amma’s Ashram in California, tucked back into a small valley with foothills surrounding it, I recognize the sound. It immediately reminds me of the stillness within.
India is a land of contrasts and an indescribable tapestry of life. I remember seeing Gandhi’s peaceful tomb surrounded by a vast park and outside that a great conflux of cars and people. Stillness and traffic jams juxtaposed.
Heading North, leaving the city with its historical significance, my face pressed against the train window, I watch the buildings become homes and shacks and the shacks become trees and the trees become meadows. The air clears and I listen for more bells. Religion (as I call it being from the West) is different here. It’s incorporated into daily life. It isn’t just a Sunday thing. The bells ring every morning. The prayers are prayed, meditation a cornerstone of prayer, and chants takes place before daily life begins. Bright red string wrapped around wrists and sandalwood paste in white and the red Tilak announce to the world that you have participated in a ritual or ceremony. I wore mine with pride. I left them on for months until the string turned white and they started to fray.
Rishikesh in its glory, a beautiful place, two parts each on one side of the Ganga. It is a place for spiritual renewal. A place where people travel on pilgrimage. Seekers and Sadhus abound. And again the bells. Every morning around 5:00, the call for prayer announces itself. Even the monkeys are sleeping as I wrap myself in a blanket and find my sandals in the dark. I wander the closed streets and just follow the bells. I don’t know where I’m going and it doesn’t matter, really. The bells announce my path for me.
Going home I stop at a beautiful site outside Delhi and in front of me is a bell. I pick it up gently and hear the sound that is now like my heartbeat. It’s never far from my altar now that I’m back in Northern California. I ring it often to remind me of the pieces of my heart that I left in India.
-Julia Myers Patterson
Lakshmi is the Hindu goddess of wealth, love, prosperity (both material and spiritual), fortune, and the embodiment of beauty. 💖 She is the wife and active energy of Vishnu. Her symbol is the lotus flower. 🌸
She also protects from ill health and adversity. In Hinduism, worship of Lakshmi is considered a suitable remedy for the alleviation of suffering. ✨
Mahalakshmi is a form of Mother Goddess or Shakti. She is popularly known as Sri or Lakshmi. 🙏🏽 Lakshmi Puja , or the worship of the goddess of wealth, is the main event of Diwali in North and West India. 💥
This November, we will be in Rishikesh to celebrate Diwali and make offerings to this Hindu goddess of wealth and health. We will immerse in Indian culture and share in their festivities. Every night is filled with lanterns, candles and celebrating. Every home is cleaned in anticipation. New clothes and gifts are purchased. Your participation is requested!💫
I loved this question because it made Julia and I stop and think about how to best describe this journey. It isn’t just a yoga trip. It isn’t a typical “group” tour, rolling up to sacred sites in a giant bus. It’s not a self-help retreat… those are all the things this trip is NOT.
Julia and I had a great conversation, talking about what this trip IS. Together, we came up with several words that we think speak to our trip’s vibe. Here are a few:
Spacious – To truly be present, so far away from everything familiar. To experience internal spaciousness. 10 days of self-exploration, with free time built into each day for deeper diving.
Loving – Julia and I are holding a loving container for our group. From the moment your feet touch Indian soil, you will be warmly welcomed and lovingly held. From the gentle morning meditation to the good night golden milk & cookies, each day has been thoughtfully planned with your sweetest Unfolding at heart.
Fun – So many special and wonderful things are being planned. Including Diwali in India – which is, in itself, a festive occasion filled with fireworks, treats and gifts. Many magical moments await you! Julia and I can hardly contain ourselves but we want to save some surprises!
Unique & Exclusive – Throughout our years of travel in India, we have been able to hand pick our favorite vendors, guides and experiences. This trip incorporates the very best of who and what we love the most in India, and mixes in our own special offerings for a very special experience you won’t get with anyone else!
Stretch – Not only will you be stretching your body and having that opportunity twice a day with gentle yoga and Hatha flow, but you the individual will be stretched personally and spiritually. Julia and I both remember what it was like to travel to India for the first time and we will be there holding that loving container to support you and make sure it doesn’t feel too overwhelming.
Flow – The Ganges River (Mata Ganga) reminds us to stay in the flow, stay present, and stay reverent to what IS. You will have plenty of reminders not to become overly attached to outcomes, but to stay in the flow and enjoy your journey. India is the perfect teacher for this. We will have many beautiful ceremonies on (and in!) this most sacred river.
Connection – A group of men and women come together for 10 days in India, and through a series of shared exercises and experiences, we form a Tribe. Together we co-create a supportive community that shares laughter and tears, personal triumphs and incredible adventures. Each one of you brings your own flavor to this group masala and we value your unique contribution to our community.
Self-Love Affair – India has a beautiful way of stripping away who we think we are and reminding ourselves what is actually at our core. Julia and I hold the intention that you will re-member aspects of yourself. There will be a special ceremony held for reflection and appreciation for each group member. We want you to return from this trip completely in love with yourself.
Something very special awaits you, we would love to have you join us!
“Take the adventure, heed the call, now ere the irrevocable moment passes! ‘Tis but a banging of the door behind you, a blithesome step forward, and you are out of your old life and into the new!” – Kenneth Grahame