I was recently away for a two week adventure in Northern India on a Yoga retreat and I had sincerely hoped to make some personal discoveries while I was there. I did that and so much more. Read on to hear about my discoveries and adventures in laughing, yoga, and making memories to last a lifetime.
1. Laugh, and laugh more and then when it really hurts, laugh some more. We really do not laugh as much as we need to for the goodness of our soul, mental health and how about those deep abs :) On the second morning of our trip we did a Laughing Yoga class with a Yogi guru in the beautiful Lodhi Gardens in Delhi. Aside from a little bit of pollution smog we had to contend with, we laughed harder and deeper than I have in a very long time. That laughing continued all day, every day, from breakfast until bedtime. We even cried from laughter some days. My laugh changed. It was real, deep and genuine. It felt liberating. I promised myself that when I returned to my normal life that I would be more playful, lighthearted and make sure to be silly enough to make myself and others around me laugh every day.
2. Be more present in every moment. You think you're present but you aren't present enough. Every day and almost every moment of my trip I observed life around me through a new lease, like I imagine a child would do. The people of India, the lifestyle, the temples, the trees and gardens. Laying on the grass doing yoga staring up at the sky and the trees above me. It was all too surreal. I used that word at least 3-4 times each day up until the final moment when I boarded the airplane to return home. How many times do you use that word when immersed in your usual surroundings? How often do we really look around us and take notice?
3. Let go of my ego. I was told I had a big ego that gets in my way, by a very qualified source...an expert Palm and Face reading guru, for only 500 rupees. This was a rather hard blow to deal with. Case in point perhaps? Apparently as my own Yoga Guru explained to me, he meant "ego" not as in confidence or being full of myself, but rather the true sense of ego as defined by Buddha. The "ego" self that focuses too much on the past and future but not the present, thereby holding yourself back from finding true happiness in your present day life. Eckhart Tolle in the Power of Now speaks about this and since I've been home I've been trying to better understand what this face reading guru was trying to tell me. Focusing on the past and future that we can't control causes much unhappiness and anxiety in people as they don't just enjoy what is right in front of them. I have to say that this was a good use of my 500 rupees to hold up a mirror to my face!
4. We judge too much. My trip consisted of myself plus 10 others that I really didn't know prior to setting foot on the airplane to New Delhi. The best part of the trip was how these new friends surprised me. This travelling group of eclectic personalities, careers and characters made the best part of the trip. The only tie that bound us together was our love of yoga and adventure. Apparently that is all you need! It made me realize that I had to put away my pre-judgement over others and just allow the process the take place and unfold. Learn and stop judging. We all have a story and can learn from them.
5. We have way too much stuff that we don't need. It doesn't make us happier. People in India, especially children, are so happy with the little they have. They are not glued to cell phones and tv screens playing netflix. The children were playing in river streams, running after the tourists to have their picture taken, helping their families, and just being present.
6. Enjoy letting others take control for a change. For me being a bit of a control freak this should have been tougher than it was but it was actually so nice to be able to just be a follower and go where I was told to be and at what time. I am usually the trip planner with the well timed agenda but this trip allowed me to just follow along and go along for the ride. It was absolutely perfect. Liberating in fact.
7. Unplug and be ok with it. Other than posting the odd Instagram photo and Facebook status update to let my family know I am still ok, I did not plan on doing any work or responding to emails. It was all waiting until my return and guess what!? Life carried on without me. What???
8. You think you got problems?! Talk to others around you and discover that we all got shit. Some of theirs are worse and some are better. Some were worse but have gotten better. And some are just about to get worse. We all deal with it in our own ways. Learn from others around you and take those lessons and apply them to your own life issues.
9. Feel the fear, and do it anyway. My life mantra. It is what sent me on this trip to begin with and although I felt sick in the days leading up to going so far away on my own, I knew I had to go. I was out of my comfort zone and away from my family. I went on a hope and a prayer that the people would be great travel partners, I would find adventure, and not get sick. I felt the fear and learned that there was nothing at all to fear. This too was liberating and I can't wait to do it again!
10. My final lesson learned is that I really love and need yoga in my life. When I signed up for this yoga retreat in India I worried that daily or twice daily yoga practice may be too much for me but I soon realized that as much as I love going to the gym to do cardio and strength training, I really need the balance that yoga brings to my life to stay grounded, balanced and flexible. So I have committed to finally take my Yoga Teacher Certification in 2018 and can't wait!
Namaste to all and if you get the chance to visit India or go on a retreat of any kind, do it. Feel it and enjoy it!
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