I’ve been travelling to India regularly since 2006. I lead annual retreats, undertake personal study (eg intensives on Bhagavad Gita), and other programs (eg panchakarma). I totally immerse myself in this crazy, uplifting, colourful place. These are five things that keep me going back!
There’s something unique about the interactions and feelings I experience on my Indian adventures. At times its pure frustration – eg three people doing one simple job – contrasted with deep connection, a feeling of oneness, shared curiosity and boundless love. Connections made through a glance, a bow, a smile. I’m always deeply touched by the openness, the heartfelt welcoming and the willingness of the people to share their culture.
As a committed student of yoga I am captivated by the Vedic culture of India. I’m drawn to the stories of the gods and goddesses and their energies, gifts and boons. The thought of learning and absorbing more of this wisdom excites me! One of the beautiful experiences we share on the retreat is the ancient ritual of Puja. Pujas are Vedic ceremonies, conducted around a fire or deity and they invite in a particular energy or honor a specific celebration. Pujas can be a time of deep inner reflection and a time to set a Sankalpa or to surrender something over!
Southern Indian food gets me every time. I eat purely vegetarian food while I’m in India and love all the flavors and varieties of local curries and dhal. A traditional meal is called a “Thali” which is served on a large plate covered with a banana leaf, and includes small bowls for chutney, dhal, curry and a sweet. You need to eat your Thali in a particular order so that digestion is optimal. You’ll see most Indians eating with their right hand, they are very skilled at combining the rice with the other dishes, making it into bite size patties before swiftly popping it in the mouth. I just love this ritual of eating with the hand, somehow it brings me closer to the food as there is no separation between me, the ingredients, or the people that prepared the food. Not everyone who joins me in India is open to eating this way, but spoons are always available!
She transforms me!
India is intense and she’s a wonderful teacher. Life is unashamedly on display, at times harsh, raw and dirty. Most of the year round I live in a beautiful bubble on the South Coast of NSW in Australia. It is healthy for me to regularly experience another view on life and another view on myself. India puts “Me” into perspective. She provides plenty of fodder for “Svadhyaya” (self study) – sometimes more than I need – learning about my patterns, attachments and desires. I take the opportunity to explore and reflect on the ancient scared texts. For this experience of transformation I am humbled, I am grateful.
It’s a mystery
I hate to be a cliché, you know, Western white woman travels to India during a difficult time and finds herself. Groan. Yawn. But I know the profound transformation that occurs with each and every trip. The pull to return is beyond words – it is more than my love of yoga and Ayurveda – it is a powerful longing, a deep yearning. As a child seeks comfort in the arms of their mother, I feel at home in the arms of Mother India. I do hope that you’ll join me in the mystery one day!
Rachel leads retreats annually to Southern India and Northern India. She offers a unique and personal experience sharing with you the people and places that inspire her. Rachel organizes everything, all you need to do is book your flights and arrange a visa. Let Rachel be your guide and let India transform you. You will not be disappointed.