December 4, 2013

Lessons Learned from Traveling in the Chaos of India. ~ Joan Hyman

Traveling has given me the opportunity to shed old skin and gain an entirely new perspective on life as it is right now.

My most intense impressions of travel are through the amazing, wild country of India.

I have traveled extensively in India, staying in ashrams, hotels and guest homes. I have taken the trains, buses, planes and boats through this rugged terrain. I had no choice but to surrender as I settled into the chaos of blaring horns, strong smells and overcrowded streets where there is no sense of personal space.

Somehow, it all made sense.

India taught me how to see the calm in the chaos. I’ve opened up to people that looked me right in my eyes, some filled with despair wondering where their next meal will come from and others simply wanting to know more about me and where I came from.

India can teach you how to relax into chaos and feel the interconnectedness of it all, if you surrender, you will see it will all be okay. Try and let the control go and trust this wild process called life.

You see horses, cows and pigs walking through these untamed streets, never startled as a rickshaw comes whizzing by blaring a loud horn. They feel the ground and stay steady and calm.

I’ve learned to love the noises of India and it keeps me coming back for more because I am reminded all is working as it should. I am reminded to trust nature and myself and ride the craziness with a sense of ease.

If we hold on too tight we block the flow of nature and this process that’s unraveling to make room for new growth.

Just as we watch the seasons change, we learn to watch these changes like passing clouds. Changes are like flowing water. If we allow the water to flow, it is pleasant to sit and watch, but if we resist the flow, struggle and tension will be created.

During my travels through India, I rarely knew where my next destination would be or how I would get there.

Taking the trains where there are no English signs and crowds of mayhem could be a daunting experience for anyone! I had to trust as I handed a porter five rupees to carry my bags on his head and direct me the train of my next destination.

Once I got on the trains with their rolling stops and random people hopping onto the train to squeeze into the crowded space,

I had to recognize my grip and learn to breathe into it. Trust can be scary for all of us, and is a continuous process that helps us grow. These challenges are here to test us and teach us to trust our own intuition and judgment.

This is what makes life stimulating and teaches us to truly be alive to the experience. When I let go and trust, it is amazing how everything truly unfolds as it should.

According to the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, this is why nature exists, to wake us up through experience and give us knocks so we can realize what it is we are made of and what is underneath. Patanjali defines this as the union of Purusha (the unchanging) and Prakarti (the changing).

We can see the entire humanity as our own to embrace. When we understand this, we can stop trying to control the outcome. We learn to witness experiences as lessons that are taking us home to ourselves.

We don’t have to go all the way to India to learn this but can use examples in our own lives that may ruffle our feathers—as a way to meditate on what is underlying our fears—and remember we are all here to witness the nature of change and grow from it.

When we recognize that we can’t control the outcome, we can ease into these changes and learn to be steady in our worlds that are constantly in flux.

Maybe we can even smile and laugh at the craziness of the world, knowing it’s all happening to bring us closer to one another and back to our true selves.


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Editor: Michelle Margaret

Image: courtesy of the author

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