Ode to India

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Oh India, mirror of mirrors!
I walk more easily now in your crooked streets and craggy sidewalks.

You are my teacher.

You beg me to let go, to watch my step, to soften my judgment.

I walk as if in wonderland, enthralled by your jeweled colors, billowing saris, bobbing turbins. I am a child in a candy shop and you gently show me my greedy nature.

I want….
…to take a photo.
…to take the jewels home.
…to capture the flavors, smells, scents and sounds.
…to take, to have, to hold and to keep.

But there is no taking, keeping, holding or “mine.”

There is only flow.
Letting go.
Relaxing into what is.

Oh India, your dust lines my lungs, your dirt a second skin on my body.

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My heart aches seeing your brilliance….
…the Taj Mahal
…the snow dusted Himalayas
…your fantastic festival Holi painting people purple and pink
…your plethora of temples honoring the gods….Ganesh, Shiva, Krishna, Kali….

My heart aches seeing your pain…
…the bride burnings
…the man with a deformed arm reaching for rupees into my rickshaw
…the shanty towns butted up against millionaire apartments
…the heaped garbage…

How do you manage?
How do you keep it together?
How does it work?

My heart starts to get the joke. It all works out in the end.

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The electricity works.
             For a while.
The hotel room is mostly clean.
The horns ARE the traffic system.
             You must be the flow. No room for doubt.
Squatting and having no toilet paper IS an option.

I’ve come here to practice.
To open my heart.
To be present.

I practice breathing.
I tell myself, “Let go, let go.”

I remind myself the driver wants to live.
I remind myself they’ve done puja for good luck.
I remind myself I am not in control.

Is this why your people pray so much?
Light incense, roll sandalwood beads between brown fingers?

There are so many paths to God in your vast land, from the Himalayas to the beachy shores. Why are some lives so filled with so much struggle while others flash and sprint around in Lamborghinis?

“Only one rupee, only one rupee,” she says, hand moves towards mouth. The baby needs feeding.

Black hair is matted, her feet dry and crusty.

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Another woman’s craggy face reflects the 100 years it has turned up towards the sun. Brown, with rivulets running through the valleys of her cheeks, she radiates warmth from inside her stooped and bent body that has traversed the Himalayas to find safety in India, away from her homeland, Tibet. She has no teeth. She gently suggests we give her some rupees.

We take her photo.

We take.
We give.
India gives.
India takes.

Give. And
Take.

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I return home changed.
I return home with more cracks in my heart.
To let the light in.
To let the light out.

I am more resilient.
I am more tender.
I trust in the flow.
More.
Than before.

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If you feel "called" to India, check out two trips I'm offering with Mela Joy, Founder of Touch of Spirit Tours. Two spots left for the Fall 2018 trip and we'll have a new one for Southern India in early 2019. for more information and itinerary see Touch of Spirit Tours


When is the Moment You Say Yes?

When is the moment you say yes?

Yes, I’m going to hike the Himalayas.
Yes, I’m going to run the marathon.
Yes, I’m going back to law school at age 50.

Yes!

When is it?

When is it that all of the “nos” fade out?

No, I’m too old.
No, I don’t have time.
No, I’m not smart enough, I’m too out of shape, I don’t have enough money.

When do all of the road blocks fall away and you say yes to that seedling of a dream in the chambers of your heart?

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Well, I’ll tell you when it fell away for me.

The “yes” came for me sitting across the kitchen table from my husband and we asked each other the question, “What would you do if you had a year to live?”

The first thing that popped out of my mouth was “Travel.”

And I let myself wander into the fantasy. I’d travel in a Camper Van through the U.S. and go to the national parks.

I’d travel to Cuba and Rwanda and back to India.

Yes, definitely, I’d travel. I’d inhabit my free spirit wings and take to the road.

He followed up the question with a second one.

“And what’s stopping you?”

I was ready with all of my road blocks…

“Well, there’s you and the dogs. I can’t leave for so long. And my students and teaching. And, well, I have to figure out my business and how to make more money, not spend more. And I’m not really a camper. I grew up in the City.”

He just stared at me, silently challenging me. “Really?” His look said, “That’s all you’ve got?”

He pushed me some more.

REALLY, what’s stopping you?”

“OK, OK,” I bantered with him. I knew this practice. He never lets me off the hook. After all, our vows when we got married were about helping each other become free – both internally and externally. The last three and a half years we’d been in a rock tumbler together, buffing off all of the bull shit of our personas, our fears, our triggers. We’d been polishing the mirror we looked.

“Ok, ok,” I began again.

“Fear! There are you happy!

Fear that I’ll spend all of my savings and won’t have money to retire. Fear that I will disappoint people – my students, people I’ve made commitments to. Fear that I won’t know what to do if the Van breaks down. Fear that I will get lost. Fear that I will be perceived as selfish and people won’t like me.

I could go on, but lets just say: FEAR.”

His lips turned up at the corners, just slightly into a wry smile. It was his “There. That’s the real answer look.” I knew it well.

“And if you get to the end of this life and you don’t do these things, how will you feel?” he posed.

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All of the defensiveness melted out of my muscles and I sat there contemplating his question. What would happen if I never do this? Would I feel like I’ve lived MY life? Or would I feel like I’ve betrayed myself?

I knew the answer.

But could I take the steps to make it happen?

Despite the longing in my heart, all of the cells in my body twitched nervously. My mind spun like a hurricane….

But but but…

It feels selfish.

It feels scary.

Will people still love me?

If I don’t do anything “for” them?

Will I just be out there on my own? Being? And forgotten?

What if my Van breaks down?

What if?


She Let Go

By Diane Sherman
This blog piece is inspired by the poem She Let Go by Rev. Safire Rose

 Awakening Series: Letting Go

Awakening Series: Letting Go

She let go of all of the rickety places in her heart that were keeping her from living her fullest life – those tiny little packages of neatly wrapped hatred and resentment, feelings of envy and betrayal, jealousies that had fancy pink bows perched on their heads.

She let go of all of that.

She let go of thinking she was not enough and just decided one day that all of these tidy packages, so beautifully wrapped and preserved that she’d been storing in her trunk were no longer serving her or the world.

It was time.

Time to lighten the load and to relax her belly full of anxiety, release her jaw muscles from their protective stance and soften her heart and take down the shields.

It was time to forgive.

Herself.

And the others.

Nothing anyone had EVER done to her was personal, and if it had been personal, and if it had been directed at her she was merely the trigger for those people. Today she got it – that any time she was a trigger to someone which sparked their anger, jealousy, or envy, their feelings were not personal!  Their feelings simply reflected their inner world to THEM. In fact, it was a gift for them to feel those feelings and let them go, if they chose to. Or they could chose to stuff them back inside.

She got busy!

She cleaned out the bile in her trunk of lingering betrayals, raw resentments and eye-splitting envy. She cleared out the anger that life hadn’t worked out the way she had hoped, let go of the dripping comparisons that usually landed her in the seat that said “I am not enough” just as I am.

“No” she said to her limiting beliefs. Instead, she chose to remind herself,  “I am perfect just the way I am and the world needs me to be me!”

She let go of the idea that she can’t achieve enlightenment now, that she has to work harder, do more, go more places, or study more.

She let go.

She let go until she was surfing in the flow of life’s stream, fully supported by what really makes life tick – the awareness of consciousness itself.

She let go of the stories about her life that held her back.

She let go of those packages, threw away the trunk and opened the door to her inner garden so she could focus on her own blooming.