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Published: August 25th 2008
I am still travelling. But this is a different journey altogether. I am on a path that, at times, feels more perilous and treacherous to me than dodging bombs in Pakistan. It is called the Inner Journey.
During my five day sadhana
practice at Anand Prakash Ashram in Rishikesh, I had a very strong intuition that I ought to go to Wales to do some work with a yogi and energy healer I had met under serendipitous circumstances in Devon about three years earlier. This seemed bizarre to me: here I was, in India, planning to go on to Nepal or somewhere else in Asia…. Wales?! UK?!! That was the last place on my list. Really. No. Get lost. I’m not doing it.
But the voice wouldn’t leave me alone. ‘Go to Wales’, it said, ‘go to Wales.’ And even other people said it to me, in what seemed like divinely orchestrated code. My wonderful astrologer Amodini, whom I visited shortly before leaving Rishikesh, predicted I would be doing some work with an older man that would prove to be highly beneficial and healing. An Indian optician regarded me strangely and wobbled his head when he failed to get
me the contact lenses I needed. ‘Go to England!’, he said. MJ and I looked at each other and smirked. A sign? Ok, I thought, I’ll e-mail the yogi in question (whom I had not been in contact for some time) and see what he says - he might not be interested in doing this anyway. I e-mailed him. ‘Dear Tony’, I typed hesitantly, ‘I know this sounds crazy, but….’ His reply arrived swiftly. ‘Not crazy at all.Very interested. Please come.’ So that was that, then. I decided to take the plunge, and, accelerated by a certain homesickness, embarked on my voyage to the mythical Welsh land, wondering all the while what exactly I thought I was doing. But then, I reasoned, the deciding factor for my going on this Asian adventure in the first place was something I received in a meditation, so…
So I flew from Delhi to Germany, spent three weeks with my parents, traveled to Sweden for the name-giving ceremony of my God/dess-son Alvar, and on to the UK, where I saw many of my wonderful friends. Finally, I landed in the unknown in early July, still wondering on the train there what exactly I
From the fairy woods....
Photo by Sheilagh Holmes
was letting myself in for. The Gods were with me, however, and within 48 hours I was settled in Wales, in the perfect ‘sadhu’s cave’ from which to work from. Admittedly, a rather big and luxurious sadhu’s cave: a house in the Welsh countryside, with a beautiful garden and a cozy glass conservatory which I have converted into my yogic temple space. Here I put down temporary roots, without telephone, without internet, and with a small suitcase of clothes, a few books and a lot of unprocessed memories.
It is quiet here. Dead quiet. It’s a time of integration. My yogic practice and I. My journals and I. The teacher and I. The silence and I. And then there is the rain. We now have monsoon time in Wales - seriously. I have not experienced anything like it. Since my arrival in these parts almost two months ago, there has not been a day during which it has not rained. Sometimes it rains continuously for two days on end, so heavily that it is almost impossible to go out. And of course it’s damp and cold - not like August at all. It somehow fits the mood of what
I am doing here - washing away the old to make room for the new. Yet, Wales is wonderfully beautiful. From my window, I see rugged green mountains, interspersed with reds and yellows, and big white clouds hovering over the edges. On the rare clear night, the moon shines luminously into my garden. The woods are abundant with waterfalls and clear strong rivers. And there is the nearby sea: wild and stormy and alive, infusing me with its potent energy when I need it most.
So what am I actually doing here? Apart from processing the enormity of the outer journey I have just completed, I am on what could be best described as a healing journey, using the tools of authentic movement or 'Lifestream' (an exploration of the unconscious through movement), dream work, regression work, journaling and other types of transformational and shamanic techniques. I am learning to embrace the inner marriage of opposites and understand the true meaning of love and the concept of ‘The Beloved’. I am working with myths and archetypes. This, and so much more. Tony calls it ‘The Hero/ine’s Journey’; I liken it to the periodic shedding of the snake’s skin.
feels as though I am excavating. Digging deep, into the depths of my soul and my unconscious, with the quest of turning base metal into gold. A terrifying alchemical process, but an equally wondrous one that is necessary on my path of initiatory transformation. Some of the time I feel like running away (and once I did), but I know I can’t escape this any longer. It is time to face myself, fully and completely.
In addition, I am retrieving my soul that felt like it was somehow still hovering somewhere deep in the Himalayas for a long time after I arrived back in Europe. You don’t often hear what happens when somebody returns back ‘home’ from a big trip around the world. What is it like? Do you still have a ‘home’? And if so, do you consider it a home still? Does the concept still have meaning? How do you re-adjust to ‘normal life’ after spending months or years in an entirely different world, a world so remote and colourful that it seems like a fairy tale when you look back?
I have to admit that I had huge difficulties in adapting. In retrospect, I wish
Photo by Tony Criscuolo
I had heeded my own advice when I set out on this journey, and returned overland as well. Flying is too fast, much too fast, after such a trip. It shocks the psyche. The soul lags behind - for ages. So long in my case that I might as well have taken the train. Or walked. My ex-boyfriend Marco laughed when I told him on the telephone one day: ‘Yes, I remember, you cried for a whole month when we came back from a holiday in Crete - I can’t imagine how you must be feeling now!’ Gosh, I had forgotten about that. But that’s right: India, like Crete, like Sicily, is such an incredible power place for me that it rips me apart when I leave in such a sudden manner. I experienced a real sensation of heart-wrenching loss, longing and disorientation. I evidently have not learnt the lessons of non-attachment yet! It didn’t help that I lived through what was probably the most mythological and symbolic and ultimately samsaric
love affair of my life during those last weeks in the Himalayas, mirroring the sacred union of Shiva and Shakti. But that is a different story, reserved for a
I remember feeling very overwhelmed when I first set foot into Germany. First of all, there was the silence. Incredible silence, wonderfully soothing to my ears after the constant backdrop of noise that characterizes India. It took some time getting used to ‘civilisation’ again, the material abundance, the thousands of superfluous products, supermarkets and magazines. The cleanliness, the lack of colour in the surroundings and most especially, in the people’s clothes. And the absurdity of spending more money in an afternoon in Europe than in a whole month in India. On the other hand, there was also relief. Certain things are just easier here, and there is something to be said for hot showers after having to wash in a bucket of cold water for weeks!
Back here in Wales, one of the strangest things for me is that, somehow, a lot of what I searched for in the Himalayas was actually here all along. I went to Asia hoping to find a teacher I could work with on a one-to-one basis - and I found him in Wales. I searched for a Yogi trained in a particular tradition - and he materialized a few days ago right under my nose, a direct disciple of the Swami I wanted to study with in Bihar. I was looking for a shamanic teacher in Nepal - and, curiously, a Nepalese shaman is coming to Wales next month, and I will be working with him also. The Universe works in mysterious ways indeed.
As they say, one door closes, and another one opens. Or to put it in Hazrat Inayat Khan’s words: ‘Every loss in life I consider as the throwing off of an old garment in order to put on a new one; and the new garment has always been better than the old one.’
On that note, I’ll be riding the wave until it feels right to move on and perhaps do some outward journeying again.
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