When I first thought about going to India, I completely romanticized the idea.
I had been fascinated by India’s rich culture, grace-filled traditions, and penetrative spiritual wisdom ever since I got sober at age 23.
The culture, practices, and heart-felt knowledge of this country completely saved my life, and I don’t say that lightly.
By the time I actually started thinking about traveling to the source, I had been practicing yoga and exploring these exquisite philosophies religiously for many years, as they had saved me from death, and ultimately, brought me home to life.
I was expecting to find myself getting lost in temples and bottomless worship, delving into hours upon hours of deep meditation and wandering through an unfathomable feeling of longing, Divinity, and complete bliss—something I had never truly experienced but felt like I had been pining for my whole life.
I was so enthralled with everything this culture had already given me, that the thought of being within it all completely took my breath away. In some ways, what I dreamed of was exactly what I received—but not in the way that I was expecting.
My time in India was both excruciating and undeniably sacred. It was challenging and the embodiment of simplicity. It was the epitome of everything I had ever experienced with God and humanity merged into one, as I was directly faced with everything I had ever hid from in the deepest layers of my body.
It was agonizing and liberating all at the same time.
Ma opened herself to me in a way that I did not believe I was ready for and swallowed me completely whole. She took me within her in a way that made me know, deep in my body, that I was safe in every way and form. And in the same sense, I felt completely powerless—which was what I later realized to be pure, unbound surrender.
I hardly meditated, I felt completely crazy, and the only temples I found myself in were the ones on the side of the road, and yet…I was meeting God in every single moment.
Moments after setting foot on her land, I soon realized that the pure magic of Mother India is her absolute chaos—which is so seamlessly embedded into perfect Divine order. It penetrates the moment with such purity. It was the energy I had been reading about in all of her stories, practices, and philosophical teachings over the last decade. Except I was no longer merely reading about the magic: I was living directly within it.
In India, there is no space for distractions or plans or disembodiment. The only real option is to be absolutely engrossed into every moment. There is truly no other presence other than what is “right here, right now.”
When I say there is no space for it, I sincerely mean there is actually no space for it. I quickly learned that if I was not paying attention, I could be run over at any second, have a monkey chasing after me, or find myself lost in a sea of people with no idea where to go.
I soon realized that even after all the yoga I had done, the years of sobriety, vigorous self-work, and “healing” I told myself I had accomplished, I was still quick to resist the moment whenever I possibly could.
And India…India made that completely impossible.
Though I had grown up in multiple places, I always had access to different outcomes of various moments. I was always able to make a plan, and there seemed to be systems in place that allowed me to follow through with that plan, or I could change it at my own will. I was never (really) placed into situations that I had zero control over every moment, which is exactly what India gave me.
It felt like a constant playful game between myself and this land. With the Divine Mother as the game-keeper, and my own radical-showing-up as the intention.
I would work on my computer and the power would go out. I would say I need to cleanse (due to those old pesky body and food dysfunctions), and I’d immediately get food poisoning. I would obsess over my body and be stared at by strangers. I would feel this incessant need to work and the Wi-Fi would go out for days. I would tell myself how ugly I was and be asked why I looked the way that I did.
Anytime I was hyper-fixated on my own shadows or what the “future” would hold, I would get hit—hard—by the Divine Mother’s reality.
At the time I finally surrendered, the entire unfolding became an actual…miracle. When I finally let go of my fears, insecurities, obsessions, and need to distract—it was as if I was consistently witnessing miracles happening right before my very eyes.
The day I met Satya, I had been in a total frenzy with myself and my life from the moment I opened my eyes—obsessing over how I would ever make it as a yoga teacher, or this “somebody” I believed I was supposed to be, or if I couldn’t even handle living in India without failing in every moment.
Satya met me in town and quickly offered me a writing job, as he was a profound yoga teacher who wanted to translate his teachings into English writing. I was so confused with what I was experiencing in myself that I turned it down and said I wasn’t available for work at the moment but would love to work with him in the future. (When in reality, I was desperate for work, but I didn’t feel worthy enough to embrace what he had offered me.)
He randomly showed up at the cafe I was in that night and shared his dinner with me while we discussed the intricacies of the yoga practice, vegetarianism, God, and the magic of India. Then completely randomly, out of the blue, he looked at me with such love in his eyes and said:
“You don’t have the slightest idea how amazing you are, do you?”
And at that moment, I just knew that everything I was experiencing was a part of some Divine unfolding, and I burst out into uncontrollable laughter.
Here I was, trying to control every move I made, every possible scenario that I could imagine, only to watch it all crumble before my eyes. Who did I think I was? How could I possibly have been so self-centered? How could I be anything but completely faithful to God and this moment?
He looked at me a bit strangely, but at the same time, as if he knew what I was experiencing.
Moments like this happened over and over again.
As I continued to put all of my faith and trust into whatever was happening, I was handed it right back in the form of yet another hilariously serendipitous moment.
Everything I was worried about, everything I obsessed over, everything I had a great fear of—started to be shown to me in the most human and profound ways possible.
The only difference was that now, instead of hitting me in the face with my own resistance and darkness, I was being hit in the face with my own faith and presence.
Even if I still had fears or felt unmerciful disgust toward my own body and myself, I just allowed it—and the Divine Mother would show up and show me how beautiful it all really was.
To this day, being in India is the holiest experience I have ever had. Even after I left her sacred land, she is still with me. Even when I forget, even when I lose myself in all of the distractions and confusion and human-conditioned shadows, I stop and breathe.
I remind myself of those hilarious, Holy, and deeply human moments I had with myself and others in the foothills of the Himalayas, and I smile—as she is always right here—to remind me of the beauty inside of the broken.