Lessons in Leh

Plenty has been going on in the last month and since I last posted my blog about sexual healing. In fact, as I sit here and contemplate what to write about today, I am astounded by all that I have done in one month!

Exactly one month ago I was taking part in the women’s awakening circle, which awoke a lot of shit buried deep in my psyche and in my soul. Thank you Kāli! It also stirred up a deeper connection into the feminine energy led world of Tantra which uses healing techniques such as full body massage to evoke pleasure and release. And I am talking FULL body people! I have confronted and understood the deeper effect of some painful sexual demons and begun to let them go.

Practically speaking, I have also survived a night bus to Manali (during which they gave out sick bags which made me MORE apprehensive, not less. It went unused chums). Within the next 48 hours, I survived (and actually mostly enjoyed) another 18 hour bus ride from Manali to Leh which began at 4AM on notoriously challenging mountainside roads. The only point I wasn’t really fond of was the second highest pass we went over during which time it felt like my nasal passages had collapsed making breathing rather difficult, and I had severe stomach cramps leading me to believe that shitting myself (once again on this trip) was possible.. The cramps could have been down to the altitude and/or the copious amounts of snickers and crisps I had eaten to pass the time.. Who can say? As a result of pondering on that experience I am, presently, of the view that I may have to stay in Leh permanently as the bus back down leaves at 7PM and drives along those same notoriously challenging roads in pitch black darkness and my ability to sleep soundly in moving transport has been compromised for many a year now, without that added stimulant… ).

Since arriving in Leh, I have spent significant hours in cars with my travel companions – a Kiwi, a Brit/Aussie and a Delhi native, being driven around the stunning Himalayan mountains and desert Ladakhi landscape to the Nubra Valley to see camels, the Disket monastery and a HUGE GLORIOUS BUDDHA facing Pakistan in a gesture of peace. We got seriously giddy at the highest road pass in the World – the Mighty Khardungla at 18380FT and even got shouted at by Indian tourists for not queuing for photos at the landmark which we ignored, and then photo bombed – highly ironic and amusing…in the altitude. Fleeing before insanity set in, we spent further hours whirling around winding mountain top roads and deep down through green, lavender filled valleys, with rushing streams of water, towards Pangong Lake – the most pristine and freezing cold lake I’ve ever dipped a toe and squealed in. We ate so many dark delight chocolate biscuits with the local Kawa tea that I have PTSD from even seeing the packet in the shops. We then travelled to and trekked part of the Sham Valley – walking past galloping Ibex, taking the wrong route at EVERY possible crossroad and unnecessarily climbing more hills, laughing, playing countless rounds of shit head and eating my body weight in vegetable pakoras, daal and rice and Parle G biscuits! A rather different pace to my hermit life thus far in India!

But now, in this moment, I am alone again in the sweet guesthouse in Leh. Yesterday, the three cool kids I have been on the aforementioned whistlestop tour of Ladakh with all finally departed for their next independent stage of adventure. I recalled old advice for backpackers that when people move on, you should too as it can feel more lonely for a solo traveller to be left behind. However, I am now more wisened from all this travel lark. And I have also done a lot of work on facing, witnessing and embracing my emotions through yoga and meditation and I do not feel the need to run away from emotions such as sweet sorrow but nor do I need to let sadness, worry and loneliness overwhelm me like perhaps it could in the past. Post holiday blues are horrendous (and this is the inevitable roller coaster of regular change when backpacking because mini adventures with awesome people end All. The. Time!) Actually though, the worst blues I have ever suffered was after a 5 day hen do in Marbella which broke me in every way to the extent that I cried at my desk in front of my then boss when I got back because I was so exhausted and probably still a little drunk! Ah, I’m such a loss to the Legal world….Anyway, those are stories of old. I am focussing on the present moment!

In my last post, I talked about my resistance to receiving pleasure, in particular sexual pleasure which relates to the sacral energy chakra, based at your reproductive organs. It is the power house of creative flow and energy within us all. It relates to receiving sexual pleasure but also to give and receive pleasure in general. The sacral chakra and sexual freedom and enjoyment is also closely linked to the root chakra, the earth, base chakra located at the base of our spine. If we are not firmly grounded in our right to be here, then we cannot then fully accept our right to receive pleasure, and allow life energy to flow fully into our bodies and into our lives.

This morning, I realised, again, how often I can block myself from receiving pleasure, and not just between the bed sheets. I went down to the kitchen in my guesthouse to get hot water for my porridge and herbal tea from Tering (spelt all wrong I suspect) the woman who runs the house with her family, including two children, big shaggy soft dog and her mother in law, Dolma (again probs spelt all wrong). Dolma has the cheesiest toothliest grin of a little old lady I have ever seen. She speaks no English but shouts ‘Jullay (the local greeting) with such joy I feel special every time. I feel we bonded particularly when I had to mime to her that someone had shat all over the shared bathroom…

So anyway, water and breakfast. I went down and she was frying momos for her husband. I tried not to get in the way of her in the small kitchen and boiled the kettle but she still managed to attend to the hob, and scold me for the way I poured water into my flask! (She’s only 6 years older than me!) She offered me mint tea as I waited for the kettle to boil – I said no. I didn’t want to be a bother, she was busy. As I poured my water (seemingly incorrectly) she served up her husband’s momos and then she offered me some. And I went to say no, again, but I realised that my attempts at being polite were restricting me from participating in this lovely moment and as you probably know, my belly rules it all, so I wasn’t going to say no to free veg momos! I sat in the little family living area as Dolma grinned at me and polished and dusted around me (that woman doesn’t stop moving) and I waited as my momos were fried off. Tering then brought me mint tea too – overruling my earlier awkward polite refusal.

Whilst munching on my momos, I took in my surroundings, sitting low on the day beds along the edges of the room, their tiny decorative china bowls and cups on display, alongside huge steel cooking pots – seriously so many that I can’t imagine how and when they are all used. I sat looking out of the little wooden windows through to the budding apricot trees, as the odd lone magpie flew past (yes, sorrow) and for 15 minutes I ate breakfast, drank tea, and watched this little family do its daily work, with the young son coming in and out (school holidays) and I drank in all of this experience. The momos were stodgy and delicious and not quite the healthiest start of the day!

After I had finished Tering drew me into conversation with her as she fried chapatis and I felt welcome, I felt at home, and I felt grateful for saying yes to this small, insignificant opportunity that again showed me how sometimes, I can hold myself back out of politeness, out of denial of pleasure, and that saying yes, that allowing people to take care of me, treat me, give to me, is still something I need to soften into.

There are many ways to deepen your insights into your self – to understand how and why you operate how you do in this turbulent and challenging world. And that is all a spiritual path is – it is about coming home to yourself, healing your particular traumas, blockages, accepting and learning to love your dark sides as much as your ‘strengths’, or socially approved behaviours and emotions. And it can happen deep in meditation or over a plate of momos for breakfast. All you have to do is become aware of your reactions, your feelings and the underlying needs.

With the absence of my dear departed companions, I have felt sad (yes, magpie), grateful and apprehensive about what comes next for me. These feelings have arisen based on my need for connection, inclusion and security. But in that moment of the momos my needs were met, and I know and I am reminded that the Universe always supports us, always guides us and that the ups and downs of emotions during travel reflect the ups and downs of emotions during life. Like the Himalayan mountains, once you have climbed, clambered, and sometimes wheezed your way up to the top and taken in a beautiful vista, you always have to come back down, sometimes skidding on your arse, before you climb your next ascent. Such is the mountains, such is life. Such are my lessons in Leh.

With love, Liz x

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Author: renewedyouyoga

Liz is a 200 hour qualified Akhanda hatha yoga teacher and prenatal yoga teacher in Southport. Liz was a practising Solicitor in London before the opportunity to travel took her to India and S E Asia for 6 months where she explored and deepened her yoga and meditation practice. She qualified with Akhanda Yoga in Rishikesh and undertook a further 85 hours of training in prenatal yoga. Yoga changed her life and she is privileged to teach students and share practical tips for finding peace in our busy lives.

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