I've been feeling extra nostalgic the past few days...thinking about all I've been through the past eight months. Looking through pictures and videos- trying to really feel the places and experiences had on this journey. When my mind and heart wander, they often travel back to our time India. So it got me thinking- what was it specifically that made me so happy in India? What was it about that experience that stands out as the point in the trip where I felt most at ease, and most complete?
I am sure there are a few contributing factors. For example, we had just survived the ordeal with the Nepal Earthquake...so I am sure this point of recovery, and finding joy again, will be a period that sticks with me forever as a turning point in my life.
Also contributing was the change of pace. We were given the opportunity to slow down for five weeks in one place. To relax and not have to be on our planning toes 24/7- which was a welcome break! There is something to be said for getting to really sink your teeth into a place. To mix with the locals. To feel like a local. It was exhilarating and freeing.
But above and beyond all this- I think it was the balance that calmed my heart. Balance is SO so important, and something we all too often forget to place emphasis on. We get caught up in the daily grind. I know that was a big struggle for me before, and something that really was a catalyst for taking this leap. I was burnt out. My actions weren't lining up with the priorities I held in my heart. The learning and growth wasn't there. I think most everyone can relate to this in some way or at some point. This anxious feeling of getting sucked into and stuck in the rat race. If you aren't careful, you lose sight of the things that make you happy- your interests and your passions.
I had mixed feelings about India. It was definitely on my list of must visit countries, but I was a little skeptical about spending six full weeks there. To add to this skepticism, we had been warned by numerous people (mainly in Nepal), that we may be biting off more we can chew with that long of a duration in India. According to our loving trek guide, Gopi, NEPAL stands for Never Ending Peace And Love....and INDIA stands for I'll Never Do It Again. We took this warning with a grain of salt, as we noticed the playful rivalry many of the Nepalese expressed with India.
Thankfully, my experience was so very different from what I expected! Further confirmation that we all need to learn to just chuck expectation out the window. It really is useless! But more on that another time.
My time in India was the perfect mix of things that make me happy. It was me finding that balance that I didn't even realize I so desperately needed...
SENSE OF HOME: We got to settle in to and make Rishikesh our new home for five weeks. This felt like an eternity after our non-stop travel the prior months! Getting to unpack, decorate my room a little, and make it feel like home was SO refreshing. We got to explore Rishikesh enough that we had our favorite shops, favorite cafes, and even got to the point where people would recognize us on the street. Refreshing when you've been walking around as a stranger in city after city for months on end!
PHYSICAL ACTIVITY: I never feel truly balanced if I am standing too still. I need to move, and I need activity. Traveling can make setting a fitness routine tricky. Enrolling in a five week yoga instructor certification school will remedy that right away!
EATING HEALTHY: I love food. And I will admit I am not the healthiest eater. I like to cook, so that is healthier than eating out...but I do like to indulge in my cooking. I don't pay attention to fat or sugar or balancing the dang food pyramid. I just eat what I like, and if I know it wasn't good for me I'll make up for it in the gym. We ate well in Rishikesh. Not only were we in India, where the food was delicious, but Rishikesh has a ban on all meat and alcohol. So I was tricked into healthy eating...and I didn't hate it ;)
LEARNING SOMETHING NEW: Major unlock for me on the trip! My brain needed to be stimulated! When you are traveling you are using your brain non-stop, making a hundred decisions a minute, without even realizing it. So I already felt invigorated by that part. But truly learning something new- going to lectures, taking notes, studying, and being tested- opened me up in a whole other way! It woke me up! Yoga philosophy, yoga asanas, breathing techniques, anatomy...it was all brand new to me! If you are feeling stuck in a rut, just commit to learning something new. It will ignite you right away and get your creative juices flowing in no time.
WORKING TOWARDS A GOAL: Goals are so important. Sure- the journey is what really matters...but the goals help dictate that path. Working towards teacher certification was a real, measurable goal for me. It wasn't a goal that I would have necessarily come up with on my own, but I embraced it with my travel buddy Jess, and labeled it as an adventure. It motivated me to wake up e very morning with purpose and passion to achieve that goal. It gave me a momentary sense of direction in this long, floundering journey I've thrown myself into! I can honestly say I have never enjoyed waking up early to torture my mind and body so much in my life. I have made a promise to myself to continue to set goals, and to focus on enjoying the process and road there!
ADVENTURE: In that same breath, adventure helped me find balance. I am not a creature of routine. Ask anyone who knows me. I rarely know what I am doing this weekend, let alone what I am having for lunch. I thrive on spontaneous decisions and seeking adventure. I'm not talking "jump out of a plane" adventure. But my version of adventure into the unknown :)
CULTURE: I have discovered that culture is a really important part of my personal balance. I want to see and experience new cultures. I want to meet different kinds of people, compare views, learn about their lives, embrace our differences! It has been instilled in me as the daughter of a Navy Officer, and something that only continues to grow as I move on in life. India was a huge dose of culture! Just what the doctor ordered ;)
BEAUTY/CREATIVITY: Who doesn't love being surrounded by things that inspire? India has no shortage of inspiration! It is a carnival for your senses! And when the sensory overload dust settles and you start to feel comfortable with all of the cultural differences, there is such magnificent beauty. I've said it before, and I'll say it again...Rishikesh is pure magic. It can't be described, you have to experience it for yourself. And you are eternally bonded with others who have experienced it. If anyone has a contact at Disney- I need it. I've got all the characters dreamed up for an amazing Disney movie set in mystical Rishikesh!
MEANINGFUL RELATIONSHIPS: The people and the relationships formed in Rishikesh are by far and away the most beautiful part of this entire trip. We made fast bonds, and lasting friendships- built on trust, understanding, and genuine love. It is really hard to put into words. I really believe that it was fate that brought our particular group together, in Rishikesh, for this specific training period. The wonderful group of souls I got to spend my time in Rishikesh with were so open and caring. We gave eachother grace, we granted one another permission to be imperfect, to try, to fail, and to try again. I have never been around such a diverse group of people who were so encouraging and genuine <3
The sweetest part of all this is, as I've been carrying India in my heart over the past week, I know a piece of me must still be living in Rishikesh. My sweet friend Bhaskar, my dear Hatha Yoga Teacher Sarita, and my other dear friend who owns my favorite little Rishikesh cafe, Rachit all reached out to me separately and unsolicited. I guess the universe wanted to let me know that just because you say good bye to a place doesn't mean that chapter is really over.