10 life lessons from an Indian adventure.
By Amy Crawford
Travelling is so incredibly good for the soul, isn't it?
Recently I was fortunate enough to get the most almighty reminder of this, whilst on a life changing mind, body, spirit adventure in India. In fact, not surprisingly I found it to be incredibly good for not only my soul, but for my health, physically and mentally. I returned feeling energised and enriched, filled to the brim with inspiration and renewed perspectives, and with a far deeper appreciation for what I am already so blessed to have. There's a simmering desire for even more simplicity in my life and a yearning for deeper connections with others.
Oh but there's more. I came back bursting at the seams with kitchen inspiration. So watch this space folks, for an Indian inspired recipe onslaught is imminent!
So without further ado, let me get to the point of my post, 10 life lessons from my Indian adventure.
1. Yes might mean no, no might mean yes. Just learn to trust your instincts.
Of course when travelling to foreign lands we can always expect nonverbal and verbal communication breakdowns. Nods don't necessarily mean 'yes'. Looking at a shaking head whilst the communicator is saying "yes" can be somewhat confusing. My advice? Get comfortable with this uncertainty. Let the need to know how everything is going to work out head straight back out the front door (of the airport/ashram/hotel/side of rickshaw). Let your travel adventures lead you unknowingly down exciting new paths. Be open and ready for fresh adventure because guess what? You can't control everything.
2. Seek to understand your travel companions, your new friends.
When you're travelling in a group, your communication skills are put to the test. Aspire to be a better listener, to understand other's perspectives and let go of the need to be right, or to know it all. Be more concerned with finding happiness and enjoyment in your often fascinating daily interactions, than you are being right. Who knows, if you really do listen you may just learn something you didn't already know.
3. Seek to understand those whose country you visit.
Be patient, talk slowly, don't allow the frustration to creep in when a non english speaker doesn't follow your swiftly spoken words. Respect their culture, their way of viewing the world, their daily routines. Learn to love and find peace in the (very) early morning mantras booming (for hours), from afar. Om Namah Shivaya. And again, Om Namah Shivaya.
4. You are incredibly blessed. You already have so much. You have a toilet. You even have access to public toilets WITH toilet paper.
5. Eating freshly cooked naaan smothered in ghee at multiple times of the day WILL bring about an expanded girth. Your clothes WILL get tighter.
But take comfort in the fact, that you will love every 'glutened' bite of it. When in India and all that...
6. No dietary choices/intolerances/persuasions need be life long.
The requirements of our bodies eb and flow - our bodies are forever trying to reach a healthy state of equilibrium. That being said, what we feed our body may and will change extensively over our lifetime. My point here is that you may not fall over and die moving from a carnivore to a predominantly vegan diet (which was what was required of me during this trip and was also the cause of some anxiety prior).
This one requires a little explanation methinks. 5 years ago chronic illness and extensive testing around this dictated that I eat much animal protein, and often. Trials to omit said animal protein from my daily meals over the last couple of years had such a negative impact on my energy that I had little choice but to continue. However, throwing me and my diet out of it's comfort zone was the catalyst I needed to propel me into a world of plant based meals, sans meat. And miraculously I survived...and far out have things now changed. I'll share more about this in another post.
A typical vegetarian meal at the ashram during panchakarma. Easily digestible, highly nutritious. Needless to say I won't be investing in prison trays for food styling any time soon.
7. Being forced out of one's peaceful home and social life, out of one's comfort zone WILL create lasting relationships and life changing experiences.
How easy is it to put off travel. It's expensive, there's a mortgage to pay, a house deposit to save for, a business to build, debts to pay off, health to maintain, restrictive diets to uphold yadda yadda..
But you know what? You've absolutely no idea what's going to happen tomorrow. The world could combust as far as we all know, and there'll you be, disintegrating into a pile of ash lamenting the fact you never walked the camino.. Go grab your credit card for goodness sake and get amongst it. Life is for living, isn't it?
8. The world will not end if you have no daily structure, at all, promise.
Says the highly organised virgo.
Picture this. 25 weary travellers collapse, exhausted and overstimulated into an integrative medical clinic within the confines of an ashram. We are there to experience 7 days of panchakarma, an intensive mind, body, spirit healing experience to detoxify the body, strengthen the immune system and restore balance and wellbeing. It's known as one of the most effective healing modalities in Ayurvedic medicine.
There's to be twice daily treatments and for the rest of the time you're to rest, preferably not read or watch TV, or engage in any social media. Just rest and wait, ideally in your room until you're called for your treatment (which could be in 15 minutes or 5 hours). Hear us tightly scheduled Westerner's roar! Oh my good god, are they serious? Why can't they just give us a schedule, so that we can plan our days? We need to know how it's all going to work out!! We need to KNOWWWWW!" (...regardless of the fact we had nothing to do anyway).
That need to know? Just let it go, because it all works out in the end.
Home for 7 days. The integrative medical clinic within the ashram.
9. Meditation is an incredibly good travel tool.
I believe it's partly responsible for the fact I didn't get one minute of jet lag on my return flight. It kept me sane during the horrendous 'not knowing' episodes at the ashram. It settled my nervous system following hugely exciting albeit frightening rickshaw rides down alleyways (fit for the width of 2 humans). It brought me back into balance after 12 hour days with 24 excitable others and millions and millions (and millions) of local residents.
Say hello to our tour leaders, Jacqui Lewis (also my vedic meditation coach) and her husband Arran Russell from The Broad Place, looking awfully relaxed pre rickshaw mayhem.
10. No, said naan weight gain will not miraculously drip off as soon as you land in Australia.
It's time to say no to the naan Amy, at least for another couple of inches. I can assure you however that that naan was worth every delicious mouthful and every extra belt notch.
And one more, just for good measure. Those puddles at the Old Delhi Spice markets? They ain't water. But again, be grateful that you have toilets, and toilet paper.
For all interested travellers, take note! My life changing adventure was hosted by two very special and aforementioned humans, Jacqui and Arran from The Broad Place. They've just announced they will be running this very tour once more, in 2016. You'll find all relevant deets right here.
What interesting travel learnings could you add to this list? If you were a part of my adventure, I'd especially love to hear a snippet or two from you!