Tuesday, April 12, 2016

3 Things I learned when I travelled solo

Unlike Eponine of Les Miserables, I wasn't singing "On My Own" in utter despair and hopelessness when I embarked on my first solo trip of late.    

The song which played in my head was "I feel good!(tananananananan...)".  

Here are the top things I learned: 

image from https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com

1.  It’s not that scary

Well, I went to a place I’m really comfortable with to begin with- India!  I had been there five other times and the local students of the meditation center I go to always pick me up to and fro the airport and arrange the other transfers.  Since I would go there annually, it feels like home and there are always local people I can call if necessary.

*  Be alert.  When riding public transportation or while moving about, be on the look out for restless people- those who are pacing back and forth or with eyes darting from left to right.  Often, they are checking the field and are on the look out for policemen to see whether or not they can pursue their evil plan.  Go down the vehicle, move away from them or go near enforcers if ever you come across them. 

* Be simple.  Dress conservatively. Leave your bling blings at home.  Try not to attract attention to yourself.  This is the best prevention against the bad guys.

2.  I can talk to strangers

Contrary to my mother's advice, I learned that it’s ok to talk to strangers.  Some strangers I sat adjacent to in airplanes have very interesting stories.  Strangers I met in Mount Abu during my annual retreats eventually became close friends.

* Be discerning.  Use your detective skills to know if it’s safe to talk to a particular person or if they want to converse with you.  Trust your intuition.
*  Never leave your drinks with a stranger, accept food from them, or ride in their car- for precaution.

3.  I love my company

Travelling on my own allowed me to simply be with myself.  There was no need to consider other people’s preference or accommodate their needs.  It simplified a lot of things.  It also gave me a chance to sit down with myself and clear certain things.  I really enjoyed the silence, too.

* Give yourself me-times.  Practice being comfortable with your own company  before travelling solo.
* Enjoy the journey.  If you catch yourself thinking, “I wish this loved one is with me”- stop.  Remember, this trip is really for you and relish every bit of it.

I will definitely travel on my own again!  

P.S.  This is my last post on my retreat to India.  Unlike the short but myriad anecdotes I usually share with you before, my reflection on this recent trip is unfolding into one long story.  It looks like it will take a while for me to finish it.    

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

I love take offs

It reminds me of what it takes to fly.

First, the plane has to run non-stop at a fast speed on the runway. Then, it goes off the ground.  Finally, it flies up up and away to the sky.  

Once you’re rubbing elbows with the clouds, when you look down, everything as in every thing down under is so miniscule- even the tallest of mountains.

image from avionale.com

That is what my journey looks like this time around when I went to Mount Abu, India for my annual retreat.

At first, along with 900 foreigners from 50 countries, I was running to get up at 3:30am daily for the dawn meditation (30 minutes earlier than my usual schedule), running to attend the early meditation class at 6:30am after queueing up for my turn in the bathroom (I was sharing a big room with 6 other people initially) and running to get to the bus station on time so I can attend the morning and afternoon classes with senior yogis in the main campus  (I was billetted in the oldest campus, ~15 minutes away from the main campus).

Then, after a while, everything moves like clockwork.  I wake up even before my alarm rings (often hours before).  Suddenly, there’s no need to queue up in the bathroom.  And, I show up at the bus station 10 minutes prior its scheduled departure. (I was usually the last one running and waving for them to wait up.)

After putting in consistent effort for spiritual study, I felt that the soul is flying- high above my gigantic concerns at work, volunteer work 
and home.  

From that space, even the biggest of obstacles seem like an ant I can pinch (though I don’t kill ants or any living thing for that matter)  

The challenge now is to continue flying as I face the mundane.