"When there is happiness you are surrounded, when there is sorrow, you are in solitude, but that is when look to the light within, it will never fade." - Mataji
When one endures heartbreak it is a natural instinct to want to run away, find solace in a new city, new people, and altogether start fresh with a new beginning. But retreating isn't always the best way to deal with a breakup. Instead, try planning the trip of a lifetime. Venturing to a place you have always wanted to go can help give you the perspective you need to move through the bad times and enjoy the days ahead.
I recently took such a trip. Since I've become a yoga teacher, I have been fascinated with traveling to the birthplace of yoga, India. This past March, I made it happen during what is called the most auspicious of spiritual gatherings in the world, Kumbha Mela (translated as "the nectar of immortality"). Every 12 years when the sun, the moon and Jupiter align, in the sacred city of Haridwar, located at the base of the Himalayans where the Ganges River begins its journey downward, 10 million Hindus come to bathe in this "spiritually charged" water that is said to wash away your karmic lives.
How could I pass up such an experience?
I was there to learn by experience. To take in this ancient culture and have a front row seat at one of most talked about spiritual festivals in the world. But what I didn't expect was to be romanced by the colors, the smells, the culture and most dramatically, the people. The contrasts were vibrant and undeniable. With poverty, there was contentment, even extreme happiness. With dust, dirt and trash there was immense beauty. With our two very different languages, there was an unspoken gratitude. With noise (horn honking to be exact) there was a universal acknowledgment - even a politeness. With the crowds of people, there was sense of patience and love (bhakti). In the midst of the chaos there was calm. A sense of calm that allowed me to be in the moment, turn inside, and even take naps outside in the middle of day (which I have never been able to do!).
My words of wisdom for those of you looking to book a trip of your lifetime:
Try not to judge. Let's face it, when you take us out of the comforts of the West, we have a tendency to judge. Try not to. Embrace the differences in cultural traditions and maybe attempt to try a few. This may or may not include using the left hand for sanitary purposes (for the record, I did not try this one). But I did end up taking a dip or two in the Ganges River which was not on my must-do list upon arrival.
Pack comfort items. For me these items were (or would have been after the fact) a comfortable pillow (a neck pillow works just fine as my roommate Anngie experienced), your favorite conditioner and pretty smelling soap, toilet paper (yes it's a comfort item in many third world countries), ear plugs (for the plane ride and you never know the noise level of where you will be sleeping), wet wipes (for those days when tackling a shower in your little bathroom seems about as enduring as hiking Mount Everest).
Understand the eating habits of where you are traveling. A good rule of thumb is to pack two power bars and/or fruit bars for each day you are traveling. You think you won't eat all of them, but I can almost promise you, you will be munching on your last one during the plane ride home. Peanut butter was also a saving grace.
Don't forget your sense of humor. Traveling to a foreign land can be somewhat of an intense experience, mentally and physically. Not everything has to be so serious. Take time to laugh and enjoy yourself, after all, those are the moments you will remember.
Bring a journal and write in it every day. Even if you're exhausted and the last thing you want to do is pick up a pen and write. Do it. You will regret not doing it after you return to your homeland and start to forget the details. It happens, especially after 30.
Don't underestimate the power of the grapefruit.
I will be internally grateful for my opportunity to travel to a land I admire and respect immensely. The changes, although subtle, are showing up daily in all aspects of my life. I look forward to what unfolds in the future and I anticipate my return one day to the source of yoga...
I do have a new appreciation for little gifts we take for granted in the West, such as toilet paper, trash bins, hot water, paved roads, and Diet Coke. I will forever have my memories of crouching over a hole in the ground thinking to myself, "Thank god my mom cannot see me now." Thank god for all those Utkatasanas.
Jill Snowden is a yoga instructor, founder of restore + flow at The James Corbett Spa and a member of Yoga Alliance. She is a graduate of the Laughing Lotus College of Yoga. Jill's signature restore + flow class was featured on YogaCity as one of New York's best yoga classes. www.jamescorbett.net
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