For most of my life, the idea of travelling to India scared me. Though I am of Indian ancestry, I was born in Canada and had little desire to visit my mother country. India felt too uncomfortable and strange, and many questions plagued me: What if I got sick? What would the bathroom situation be like? What if the crowds and poverty were too confronting?
But a few years ago, something shifted. I began to practice Yoga and learn more about the Vedas, the spiritual texts of India. I started to appreciate aspects of my culture that I long took for granted and, for the first time, felt the inclination to just go.
I believe that when one desires to visit India, there is an irresistible, magnetic pull to the country. Previous doubts and fears lose their grip, and circumstances seem to line up to make the journey happen. It’s as if Mother India knows we are coming!
For me, it was being at work and seeing an online listing for Sacred Earth Journey’s 2010 Spirit of India tour. In that moment, something within me came alive. I contacted the tour leader (and yoga instructor) Michele Labelle and, upon meeting her a few days later, was very inspired by her love for India. Within a couple of weeks, I was signed up for the retreat.
I am so glad made that decision. India opened my heart and mind in ways I didn’t expect. It was heavenly to practice yoga at sunrise on the beach. It was magical to see fireflies dancing in front of a large stone Shiva sculpture during our candlelight Yin class, beneath a starry sky. To experience India’s sacred temples, sights, sounds, colours, textures, smells, art, shopping, and (of course) food with my group was such a gift.
While some first-timers to India prefer an independent experience of this paradoxical, compelling, and often overwhelming land, I loved being in the company and camaraderie of like-minded souls. Given that I was there for only a short time, I wanted all the guesswork taken out of the equation and relax (as much as possible) into the experience. I didn’t want to worry about what was safe to eat, where to stay, or which sites to visit, and I am very thankful that Sacred Earth Journeys took care of all those details.
Did I feel out of my comfort zone? Yes…those old questions did not disappear overnight. But I was beautifully supported along the way. My tour leaders were wonderful and knowledgeable, and I felt safe and comfortable with our drivers, who expertly navigated India’s chaotic roads so that I could fully absorb my surroundings.
There’s a sense of magic in India that’s difficult to put into words. I could actually feel my family history with each step I took. Our group travelled through the South, but I have no doubt that if I’d stayed longer I’d somehow be guided further North, to the exact village where my great-great-great grandparents lived.
Perhaps that will be my next trip. I look forward to that day.
Join Sacred Earth Journeys on our Journey to India in 2015.