While meditating in India, I was called to take an inner journey to reach my destination
Men go abroad to wonder at the heights of mountains, at the huge waves of the sea, at the long courses of the rivers, at the vast compass of the ocean, at the circular motions of the stars, and they pass by themselves without wondering.” – St. Augustine
LIGHT FILTERS THROUGH the palm trees and thick-leaved tropical plants in front of my writing porch. I am surrounded on three sides by greenery, swaying in the breeze. It may be winter in Kerala, but the afternoons are hot and the evenings warm. Down the road, the golden beach, red cliffs and shimmering waters of the Arabian Sea beckon.
Watching the sun set over the ocean, swimming, eating fresh fish and fruit, immersing in the beauty and bounty of nature — these are the reasons I came down to Goa and Kerala in South India. I wanted the support of the sunny climate, fresh air and bountiful nature to continue the inner journey I began at a yoga ashram in North India in November.
The call to inner adventure is part of The Hero’s Quest
On my first day at Aurovalley Ashram, near Rishikesh, as evening approached and the sun started to set, I went up on the World Temple roof to enjoy the beauty and peace of the “magic hour,” and listen to the cries of the birds as they flew home. Suddenly, the speaker system started to blare extremely loud music. (In fact, it was The Mother’s music. The Mother was the spiritual partner of Sri Aurobindo. She played evocative organ music that is haunting and tends to drone, and is not suited to loud amplification, in my opinion.)
The shock of hearing loud music in this usually peaceful setting upset me. I have been going regularly to Aurovalley for 10 years and have never heard this before. I felt really rattled, as if my secret sanctuary had been invaded and taken from me. In fact, it almost seemed to trigger a PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) type of reaction.
You enter the forest at the darkest point, where there is no path. Where there is a way or path, it is someone else’s path. You are not on your own path.” Joseph Campbell
During meditation that evening, I was flooded with painful memories and emotions as I allowed myself to feel how badly I had been traumatized and abandoned by earlier events of my life. Over the next day or so, as I processed this experience, I became aware that I was attached to a very negative story about my life. I was attached to the idea that I was hanging on for dear life, and skating on the edge of doom. My life was going to fall apart or end any day, and I was using a lot of my energy to stave off the inevitable catastrophe.
I realized I felt alone in the world, always having to do everything myself and prove myself, over and over again. I had an ego-driven need to succeed, to make a name for myself, because I had no one to rely on, nothing to fall back on. In other words, I was simply surviving, not thriving — and thriving did not seem to be an option.
Your vision will become clear only when you can look into your own heart. Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.” – Carl Jung
When I had this realization, and the implications of it began to unfold, I felt nauseous and couldn’t eat. I knew it was an emotional response and not a physical illness. I could see that my negative mindset was undermining my confidence and everything I was trying to do, and that I was blocking a more joyful, connected, prosperous and spiritual experience of life.
The traumas in my life, and my struggles to make a living as a writer and blogger, combined to make me feel “alone in a godless universe.” And every new email from an organization that wanted me to work for free, as I sank further and further into debt, seemed to validate this view.
Falling out of grace
When I founded Breathedreamgo six-and-a-half years ago, I wanted to achieve success. I wanted to make a name for myself so that I could achieve my dreams — my dreams of supporting myself as a traveller and writer. And my career has soared in many ways. I gained lots of exposure, readers, opportunities and had lots of travel adventures. Perhaps most importantly, I took the leap and followed my dreams — something I had never done before, and many people never do.
But I used a lot of my strength of will for this and paid a price. I depleted my energy and my savings and threw my life out of balance. I struggled to understand why this path has been so hard, and so financially unrewarding. I thought perhaps the problem was the economy, or societal attitudes towards creative people, or my non-existent business model.
The only journey is the journey within.” – Rainer Maria Rilke
And while all of these things contributed, it was my inner world, my unconscious story, that was the biggest cause of all. Most of us don’t realize that our lives are manifestations of our thoughts and beliefs. As the sign at Aurovalley Ashram says, “There’s no use complaining about the circumstances of your life as they are an expression of who you are.” This is why I go to the ashram, to find the peace and solitude needed to become aware of my inner journey.
In my meditations, I started to practice trust, faith and surrender. I literally imagine myself falling back into the arms of the goddess, like a loving net, or a warm ocean. Whenever I start to slip back into negative thinking, I replace it with a mantra, chant, prayer of gratitude or positive vision of the future.
Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom.” – Aristotle
Since having that realization, I feel almost as if I’ve been let out of jail. A whole new world of possibilities seems to be opening up in front of me. I feel much more open, confident, excited about life. I feel the burden of loneliness and my financial crisis is being shared. It’s not entirely lifted, but I don’t feel I’m carrying it alone.
It’s a big relief to let some of the western ego-driven and controlling part of my mind go, and adopt a more eastern-inspired, faith-driven approach.
We in the west are brought up to believe in the power of our individuality and strength of will. We are told we can do anything, conquer anything, achieve anything if only we set our minds to it. The role of fate, destiny, friends, mentors, resources, support, unseen forces and plain old dumb luck doesn’t seem to count for much in this world view.
But as they say in India, “God knows best.” Things happen they way they happen, and they’re not always in our control. The only thing we can control is how we react and respond, and what meaning we find.
Not until we are lost do we begin to understand ourselves.” – Henry David Thoreau
As well as cultivating more faith and trust, I’m also much more open to possibilities and the idea of abundance. When I landed in Goa in December, and started touring Panjim and the surrounding area, I spontaneously had a vision of me living in a house with a big white verandah, on a hill, facing the Arabian Ocean. I was fit, happy, healthy and wearing a flowing Wendell Rodricks gown.
This positive vision, informed by abundance, was a revelation. I have no idea how I’m going to get there, but right now, it’s just enough to have a new dream, a dream of abundance, balance, health and sunny days.
Learning to trust
Also in Goa, I had an experience that encouraged and validated my trusting approach to life. I booked into a small resort on the beach in Agonda and didn’t like my room. I had imagined a coco-mat beach hut facing the ocean, but instead got a dingy, dark room near the road. The next morning I was guided to The Secret Garden where I immediately booked into the beach hut of my dreams. I literally ran back to get my things and moved over in about 30 minutes. I felt euphoric the entire day, having my beach hut dream come true and at a price I could afford.
So, at the end of 2015 and the beginning of 2016, I am going to celebrate my successes and start planning for the new future I am envisioning. I am going to let my inner journey take the driver’s seat for a change, and spend as much time and energy surrendering and trusting as planning, working, striving. Let’s see where it takes me.
READ MORE ON BREATHEDREAMGO
- Photo essay: Kerala is India’s soft landing
- Surrendering to the Goa vibe
- Aurovalley Ashram: One day at an ashram in India
- Stumbling on the road to my dreams
- My Story: Why I write about travel in India
Celebrating the accomplishments
In 2015, Breathedreamgo turned 6, I celebrated 10 years of travelling to India. I am very grateful for the opportunities I’ve had — a lifetime of adventures over the past 10 years. I’ve felt freedom, watched sunsets and sunrises all over India and the world and opened myself up to new ideas and cultures. I’ve dedicated myself to an art form, watched myself improve and tasted success in the form of awards, readers, prestigious assignments and personal satisfaction. I’ve done more and gone further than I ever dreamed.
This past year, 2015, especially I achieved some career highs such as:
- Publishing stories in BBC Travel, Conde Nast Traveller India and Vogue India
- Publishing a 16-page feature about my travels in India in Outpost Magazine
- Winning Ontario Tourism’s top writing award for a story about Niagara Falls
- Speaking at TBEX Asia and at the first Twillingate Unscripted Arts Festival
- Having the opportunity to travel in Canada, the USA and many new places in India
- Hitting almost 2 million page views on Breathedreamgo
Motivational resources for getting rid of old baggage, creating a new life and making successful new year’s resolutions
And now as I begin the proactive exercise of imagining and planning for my new life, one free from the burden of the negative story I was carrying, I asked my wise friends on Facebook for some recommendations for moving forward, and got some great responses.
A person often meets his destiny on the road he took to avoid it.” – Jean de La Fontaine
The secret to successful New Year’s Resolutions
Amy Gigi Alexander posted a link to this page on her Facebook page, and said she used the techniques successfully to vision and plan her new life. I’m trying it this year, too, as the advice makes a lot of sense. The secret to successful New Year’s Resolutions.
Amy Gigi Alexander, writer
Books by Rilke and Campbell
“This may or may not be something for you at this time . . . but it’s something that works for me, pretty much always . . . when I’m in some kind of personal purgatory: Letters to a Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke. My own favourite letter is #8. I’ve carried this book with me pretty much everywhere I’ve gone in last two+ decades. The letters are Rilke’s responses to question from a younger man about art and life and love . . . I also read Joseph Campbell. Another book I take with me everywhere: A Joseph Campbell Companion. Pick a page … any page …
“Not exaggerating when I say that this meditation changed my life in a matter of weeks. Almost exactly three years ago…” Oneness Meditation.
Corinne McDermott, Have Baby Will Travel
“Go on a silent 10-day Vipassana meditation course in India. It will help you disconnect from negative and unwanted thoughts. It is intense and challenging, and will change the way you think and react to things.” Top 5 Vipassana Centres in India.
Sharell Cook, About India
Do What You Love
“The website Do What You Love has a great New Years Revolution PDF to help you with just this.” Do What You Love.
“I always find inspiration from the books of Eckhart Tolle, especially Power of Now and A New Earth.”
The Four Agreements
The Four Agreements.
Shining Academy Workbooks (for Life and Biz)
“I do this yearly.” Shining Academy Workbooks
Reena Tory, Mantra Wild
Mad & Divine
“First chapter of my book Mad & Divine, What Are You Seeking & When Will You Stop?”
Braja Sorensen, writer
“If you’re going to try, go all the way. Otherwise, don’t even start. This could mean losing girlfriends, wives, relatives and maybe even your mind. It could mean not eating for three or four days. It could mean freezing on a park bench. It could mean jail. It could mean derision. It could mean mockery-isolation. Isolation is the gift. All the others are a test of your endurance, of how much you really want to do it. And, you’ll do it, despite rejection and the worst odds. And it will be better than anything else you could imagine. If you’re going to try, go all the way. There is no other feeling like that. You will be alone with the gods, and the nights will flame with fire. You will ride life straight to perfect laughter. It’s the only good fight there is.” Charles Bukowski
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