In India, I experience the gamut: giddy laughter, loving kindness from strangers, heart connection, unexpected friendships, communion with cows, encounters with monkeys, blaring horns, sublime sunsets.
What I don’t think I have conveyed is the journey within to deep stillness – the Gift of Presence – that has been my India.
Words really don’t do India justice, and I have a hard time putting some of my deepest emotions to words, so I have attached a short 90 second video of some very sacred moments that are forever dear to me.
The soundtrack is me “tuning in” with the Adi Mantra. Something we do at the beginning of every kundalini yoga class and meditation. I was chanting this mantra in the early hours of morning, when it’s still dark and the winds come roaring down the foothills of the Himalayas. I was tucked into a blanket and let the familiar chant ground me and connect me to the Golden Chain of my teachers, and connect me to my yoga mat. To my heart beat. If you listen carefully you can hear thumps and bumps in the background. They are monkeys having a morning romp before the warm midday sun makes them heavy lidded and lethargic.
I’ll be traveling back to this country, to this yoga hall, to one of my soul homes, in just a few short months. There are spots for 2 more people if you would like to join me.
We have curated a tour that delivers daily opportunities to connect deeply to your Self, to nurture and restore with yoga, meditation and Ayurveda. Time on the Ganges, swimming in waterfalls, hiking in the foothills of the Himalayas. Satsang with living saints. Stillness.
If you feel the call, contact me. I’m here to walk you through the details. Step by step.
“I love your Welcome Packet, but what is the actual ‘Vibe’ of this trip?” the latest registrant of Enlightened India asked.
What a great opportunity for me to stop and think about how to answer this question. How to best describe this journey to India I’m co-leading this November? 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.
I had a great conversation with my business partner and co-lead Julia, 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, I would love to have you join us!
Register HERE. “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
I wrote about bringing Lance’s ashes to Varanasi and how powerful that was for me to release them into the river.
Now on to Rishikesh, a lotus of a place, nestled on the banks of the Ganges, in northern India. The water is cool and clean, with sandy swaths of beach and many ashrams and temples along its edge. There is something very peaceful and sweet about this small city and the slower pace is a welcome retreat.
When we arrived at our hotel, our amazing host, Govind Agarwal, had arranged for our group to have a special blessing by priests. As each of us entered the yoga room, we were given a special necklace of marigolds as the priests chanted.
Red paste and grains of rice were put on our foreheads and prayers were offered to Durga (the mother of us all), Ganesha (the remover of all obstacles) and Shiva (Destroyer of Ego and one who sits in deep meditation.) One group member said she felt “home” as soon as she heard the powerful chanting of the priests. The acoustics of the yoga room made me feel as if the mantras were vibrating through my chest cavity and opening my heart.
Have you ever said “yes!” to something because you felt it in your body, even though you had no idea what it was? Months ago, back in the US, Govind had suggested having a ceremony for our ancestors on the banks of the Ganges. Ever since he mentioned it, I became instantly attached to having it. In fact, during the entire trip in India, my intention was to cultivate an attitude of surrender in all things, which I accomplished for the most part, but I stubbornly remained attached – like a barnacle on a wooden boat! – to 3 things: the sunrise boat ride in Varanasi (which didn’t happen, so obviously I need to go back), the ceremony for our ancestors, and the dipping in the Ganga.
The morning of the ceremony, Govind walked us down the marble steps that literally disappear into the river. The 3 priests were waiting for us accompanied by various bathers, curious onlookers and sadhus. We took our seats on the marble, facing the river.
sitting in ceremony
The priests put sandalwood paste across our forehead. We offered prayers and offerings to the river, giving thanks for those that had come before us, honoring our lineage and speaking our ancestors’ names aloud.
I had brought a small vial with me – the remains of my beloved grandparents ashes – unsure of whether I would be willing to part with the last physical remnants of them. As I prayed, I knew with an inner wisdom that in the releasing of this ash, I was surrendering to the pulse of the universe, letting energy go into the flow of the river. “Harold…Hazel” I said out loud as the priest poured milk into the jar and I tipped it into the river. For the rest of the day, I experienced an uplifting of the spirit that was tangible and a peace I usually only feel after meditating.
milk and ash
Days later, Govind’s lovely wife, Bindia, graciously accompanied us to an area of the Ganges where we would dunk in the river. The symbolism differs for everyone, but for me, it was an opportunity to “baptize” myself – to submerge myself 7 times, one for each chakra, in the holy river of unconditional love. To cleanse myself of my sins, and to be born anew. Returning to India, and bringing a group of women to India, had been a dream. Now it was time to recognize that I had realized a dream come true and honor that part in me that had heard the call and said yes to it. To realize that there are endings and also beginnings in a pilgrimage to India. I was consciously saying ‘goodbye’ to aspects of myself, and experiences from the past 2 years. In submerging in the river, I was also saying ‘yes’ to whatever was wishing to be born in me – perhaps aspects or ideas that I am not even aware of yet consciuosly, but the seeds have been planted.
Several of us were called to dunk in the river that morning and it was a powerful experience for all of us. Much gratitude to Bindia who held our hands (with teeth chattering!) as each of us took the plunge. Afterwards, we lit incense and made offerings to the river in thanks for her willingness to take us – the shadow and the light – and wash away our impurities and leave us refreshed and renewed.
I have so much gratitude for this journey and for all the ways I was able to be in sacred ceremony with the holiest of rivers – Mata Ganga – the Mother Ganges. Sharing these experiences with this group of women has made it more potent for me and these memories live on in my heart and mind. And oh Mother India, I will return! Deep bow.