In the summer of 2015, I decided to go to India by myself. I had been exploring Hinduism and practicing yoga for many years prior, and was really drawn to go to the place where these Eastern practices originated. I had made arrangements to live for four weeks on an organic farm in Kodaikanal, a hilltop location in the southern region of India. When I arrived, however, I found that the owner of the farm was angry and sexually inappropriate. Another American girl and I ended up leaving the farm backpacking through Southern India for the entire duration of the trip.
I went home in August of that year knowing that it would be my focus to go back to India, but this time on a more permanent basis. I gave myself one year to prepare for this move – purging my belongings and getting my money together. I was so burnt out from slaving at my job in Los Angeles. The political agenda in my country was nauseating me. I had developed such an intolerance to conforming to anything that didn’t make sense to me. I don’t even know how I made it through to the following summer, but in July of 2016, I had donated 15 years worth of my belongings and arrived in Bangalore city with three suitcases.
Here, I will share my experiences and journals from my India journey. I wrote the first journal entry when I came back to Los Angeles from the first trip to India. The second one I wrote when I finally made the move and the third was written while I was still living there.
Living in India greatly influenced my journey and assisted in the dissolving and dissecting of my ego. I resided there from July of 2016 to March of 2017, with an intermission of 1.5 months spent in Los Angeles. It should be noted that the timeline of this article overlaps with my twin flame articles. Below are three of my journal entries, dated in chronological order.
August 18, 2015 – upon leaving India the first time.
As I sit here in this chic hotel in Switzerland where United Airlines has placed me in light of my cancelled layover flight back to the U.S., I can’t help but feel grateful. Grateful as I observe how God, once again, has a different plan for me than I had for myself and I am, again, reminded to relinquish control.
What I’ve learned recently throughout my journey through India: true strength and courage is the opposite of what I thought it was. Courage is art of allowing yourself to be vulnerable. I had slipped into the habit of compromising my spirit and freedom for what I perceived as security. I kept hitting brick walls in my efforts to continue my spiritual journey. I was convinced my heart was closed and my resilience had faded. I thought I was dead inside. I had been feeling frustrated and angry, feeling guilty for feeling angry, struggling with my weight, and feeling hopeless… yet secure? I have taken immeasurable efforts to try to control my anxiety since its original onset at the age of 21, but I realize now that trying to control it only creates resistance and more anxiety.
I faced a considerable amount of obstacles in my journey through India. I went to Mother India to volunteer on an organic farm, connect with nature, and practice yoga and meditation. I was scared to eat anything or drink the water due to my fear of falling sick, which was instilled in me by my health insurance’s nurse from the “center of infectious disease control.” Yet this all became nothing more than a hysterical joke as I was so blatantly pushed out of my comfort zone in ways I could have never imagined and forced to surrender my ego. The owner of the farm was a lunatic and it was not a safe place for a woman to be. Myself and a beautiful friend I made there left that farm less than 48 hours after my arrival. I was petrified to leave the place I thought provided me with security, yet more petrified of once again repeating my fear-instilled patterns of staying in a toxic place as a result of my need to stay within my comfort zone. We left and decided to wing the rest of the one-month trip.
Throughout this journey, I met beautiful people who inspired me to awaken the parts of me, which were sleeping. I bonded with people who gave me joy, laughter, inspiration and even suffering, and for these experiences and individuals I have a tremendous amount of gratitude. In the cities through which we traveled, I observed kindness, poverty and gratitude – three things we, as Americans, don’t often observe simultaneously. I was surrounded by a culture of people who live in this dull chaos yet are at such peace. Many Americans would look at some of these people and think they have nothing because they don’t have the monetary luxuries we do, however, if you look closer, you will see that they have everything. They have God.
Throughout the duration of this trip, I laughed my ass off even through my own tears. I realized that God loves me, hears my prayers and protects me. I realized that my heart isn’t closed as I believed it was. My resilience hasn’t faded and my spirit isn’t dead. My inner child is indeed front and center. I haven’t seen her in quite a while but she is right there with a soul full of light and an open heart. Now it is time for my wings to follow the lead of my heart and open as well.
July 15, 2016 – upon the move to India
I really had the opportunity to observe myself (my ego that is) while traveling these past few days. I’m not referring to traveling in general but the actual act of getting on and off planes for 30 hours with no phone, no Internet, no distraction and/or escape from your own thoughts. I think I went through every thought and emotion imaginable. I observed my own patterns of thought, both positive and negative, and I have concluded that I feel full of courage while simultaneously being the most scared I think I’ve ever been in my life. I have always perseverated on and projected into every hypothetical situation that could potentially go wrong at pivotal points in my life, typically and conveniently occurring while attempting to sleep.
Several times this past year I was pushed out of my comfort zone in a last minute kind of way. When I didn’t have the time to stress about all the horrible things that would sabotage my fulfillment and “success”, I actually handled it like a boss. I place success in quotes because I am still figuring out what success means to me and I’m pretty sure it’s not all about money. I also realized that I was far from fulfilled with my life and my sense of security was, indeed, false.
I have never feared flying in my life, even through occasional turbulence. However, during the flight from Tokyo to Singapore yesterday, we were experiencing such extreme weather that the flight crew stopped serving food to buckle up with us. One crew member noticed I was praying and nonchalantly mentioned that it was “typhoon season” (I’m still trying to remember if I was absent that day of elementary science unit on natural disasters when typhoon was actually defined). In any event, after the turbulence subsided, I asked myself why I got so scared. Was I afraid to die? Maybe… But what I also observed for the first time in a while, and in general, is my desire to live (and I don’t mean literally live through a plane crash) but actually to possess life fulfillment.
My journey with anxiety has been a difficult one to say the least but I’m starting to learn that the irrational fear I suffer(ed) from is basically the only thing holding me back, manifesting itself in different ways. Through this “quality time” I had with myself, I kept finding myself not only realizing how unbelievably blessed I am to have such amazing people in my life, but that they actually value me just like a value them. I cannot express how much gratitude I have in my heart right now. I must be doing something right if I manifested such blessings in my life.
December 15, 2016
While I have made tremendous strides in my journey with anxiety, I am able to observe ways in which it still influences my life. Seeking reassurance from friends/loved ones that the relationship is ok, thinking others are mad at me or don’t like me, irritability and aggression, isolation, exhaustion, fear of and perseveration on communication with others, feeling like a burden to friends, difficulty making decisions, OCD, jumping to the worst conclusions, personalizing situations that aren’t personal and rigidity/resistance towards doing things outside of familiar routines (just to name a few)
With that being said, I have always pushed myself to do things outside of my comfort zone, kind of like shock therapy. Two Decembers ago I decided I was going to train for the LA marathon. While I ended up only making it to the half (still an accomplishment enough for me), I would cry before training sessions which entailed me running farther than I ever had previously because I was afraid to fail. I will never forget the first time I ran 10 miles. I had tears streaming down my face the entire time. Oh yeah… and quitting my life, selling all of my stuff and moving to India. That’s kind of outside of my comfort zone too.
Being in India is teaching me two major things: First, it is completely numbing me out to unpredictable setbacks and obstacles. There is a currency crisis here and not only is it nearly impossible to access my own money, the bills which have been put out on the street are too large for merchants to break. The power goes out all the time, sometimes while bathing at night (or worse, before because then I can’t have hot water). Everything and everyone are chronically late due to high traffic volume in the city. Access to Internet and means of charging devices is unpredictable, and pretty much non-existent while traveling. A year ago these things would have definitely put me over the edge. Today, I just shrug and play tetris on my burner phone (if it’s charged lol).
The other thing India is teaching me is to have gratitude. Being an American, I never realized how much I took for granted having access to resources. When things are going smoothly here, I am grateful. When I went back to the states from India, I was consciously grateful. When I was studying Judaism, I was taught a prayer thanking God for every single thing I did throughout the day, including the ability to use the bathroom. I see the significance in this now more than ever.
India is a place of kindness and tolerance. It is a place of gentle and organized chaos where everyone just accepts “what is”. India is providing me with the tools to go with the flow and release my need for control. These are huge obstacles and corrections I need to make in order to be the best version of myself I can be. It is helping me to step into my truth and appreciate everything that surrounds me. Thank you Mother India.