This time last year I was frantically stuffing ‘the Beast’ with my ‘essentials’ for a whirlwind 3 months travelling adventure. All my connecting flights were booked and as only a control freak would do my itinerary was planned, printed, stored in a plastic wallet, and emailed to my Dad.
My first stop was Delhi to catch a connecting flight to Dehra Dun and then a car to Anand Prakash Ashram in Rishikesh, the foothills of the Himalayas. That was my first stop, to de-stress, to re-engage and explore yoga and what it was that was calling me to the mat in the depths of my ‘boiled toad’, depressed and depleted state in London (see Samvega and the Toad).
The over-planned plan of those 3 months included 6 countries, 2 organised tours, and 9 flights (I need to plant a lot of trees to compensate for those carbon emissions). After 17 days in the Ashram, I was joining a 7 day tour of Delhi, Agra and Jaipur, then a flight to Singapore to connect with a mate to spend 3 weeks together in Malaysia. Then I would fly solo onto Cambodia for 2 weeks, Thailand for 2 more and then to Beijing for a 10 day hiking tour of the Great Wall of China. I would then fly back to the UK on 2 September 2015 to the life and career as a lawyer in London that at the time I could find no light within.
Exhausted by the thought of that plan? Yeah, I was a backpacking virgin and a total fool. I had planned a London-paced Type-A backpacking affair. Not only were most of the clothes and gadgets I packed discarded and donated to various people and places in India and SE Asia, I also learned the hard way (and with flight cancellation fees) that plans change, life is about spontaneity and living for each moment and not trying to do it all in one go.
As many of you know, I didn’t return to London and I didn’t return to my job. During those first two weeks in the Ashram I knew my heart was telling me to let go and I was petrified. I still wanted and needed the approval of my parents to walk away from a career I had fought so hard to get and paid so much for (law school ain’t cheap!). I had no idea what would come next but taking that step and sending that email to my parents and then to my employer lead to a rapid change of events that left me unemployed and technically homeless in the space of two weeks! Ganesha removed many an obstacle and all that was left to address was myself and my blocked and fearful heart.
Freedom in travelling and unemployment gave me the space to seize the day and to return to India for Yoga Teacher Training and in that I found myself. I also found my calling – to teach, to help, and to begin to heal myself, to find strength in my vulnerability and learn for the first time (this lifetime) how to truly love myself.
This time last year I could not have imagined what the next week never mind the next 12 months would bring. I don’t feel that I can convey here how utterly grateful I am to myself for taking that leap to travel alone, to fly to India and to give yoga an opportunity to help me transform. I thought I knew what life was about – the sensible job, the status, the money, the Partner, the house, the kids, the dog, and maybe one day I will have some of that too but what I have now means so much more to me. I have hope, faith and excitement for my life. I have confidence and light within me and I have strength in the knowledge that I can lose my shackles and face the unknown and still be me.
So as I smile at my memories of that first flight to Delhi, of my nerves, the lump in my throat and my tears as I said goodbye one last time to my mum on the phone at the Gate, I also smile for today, and tomorrow. For the adventures still to come. Because every day is an opportunity.
P.S. I’ve said it before but thank you again to my parents, to my Uncle, and to Kate and Sarah for supporting me and helping to set me free. Sadly, Ganesha does not arrange house moving services and mere mortals had to do that for me in absentia. With love to you all.