Reflections from India Fall 2018

Preparing for these journeys is always such an interesting process. Butterflies in stomach excitement mixed with occasional waves of fear. Overwhelming gratitude and a ton of sadness at the thought of being away from my kids for a whole month. Still, there is an undeniable sense of being in right alignment. On the edge of deep transformation and profoundly held in grace. Oddly, many of these feelings remind me of getting ready to give birth. While all of planning and preparations are definitely important, eventually a time comes when the only thing left to do is to let go and trust. So today, in the midst of managing all the details, soaking up sweet time with my kids and trying not to give into self critical thoughts about how leaving them might mean I’m a bad mother, I am also releasing the need for control and leaning back into the faith that things will unfold exactly as they are supposed to. Moment by moment and breath by breath, it’s my intention to stay flexible, present, receptive and in love.

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Still waiting for a few more of our group to make it all the way to Jaipur. It has only been one day but already it feels like we have been here forever. Of all of the many wonderful, silly, jaw dropping, profound, hilarious, and heart opening things that happened today, what I will remember the most was staying up to hang on to every word of the stunningly beautiful, sari clad grandmother, fresh from her nightly Durga puja, who choose to open up to me about her relationship with God and life and all things sacred. 

Aside from her unwavering presence and clear, love filled eyes, I was in awe of the depth of her devotion and discipline. She spoke about her daily practices with a level of passion and commitment that was palpable and inspiring. When she described the exact moment in her life that she felt God “hit her over the head” and tell her she had to stop messing around and start living a life that was completely in service of the divine, I felt a resonance that rang through my heart and rattled my bones. I have been living with the impact of my own version of getting hit over the head since this summer and trying to figure out how to integrate it into my life. This wise woman’s radiance reminded me of the gifts and grace that are possible with dedicated surrender.

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Rajasthan is full of so much exotic beauty. Exquisite temples, snake charmers, Maharajas and Maharanis, shimmering palaces, colorful gemstones, painted elephants and tassel covered camels. Everywhere you look there is something artful and fantastic. It was the perfect end to our time here to attend the evening aarti at the Lakshmi Narayan temple. Nothing we have seen so far even comes close to the captivating smiles and tearful devotion on the faces of many of the people. Appreciating the abundance of shimmering and divine hearts.

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After three wildly wonderful and Krishna filled days in Vrindavan we eventually made our way to Haridwar for Diwali. So beautiful to feel the whole city alive with this celebration of the light outshining the darkness. Every friendly smile, kind heart and glowing prayer filled diya floating down the Ganga is slowly filling my heart with faith.

Dreamy, mystical morning in Haridwar as the impossibly giant mango sun creeps over the horizon and climbs higher into the sky. Ancient Vedic chants mixed with the rushing song of the river. Horns honking, bells ringing, the cry of a child in the distance. Young men laughing as they playfully push one another into the icy water of the Ganga. An old man extends a wrinkled hand hoping to catch a moment of generosity from a passerby. Women wrapped in colorful saris and soft shawls rush past as they cradle their sleeping toddlers in their arms. A fat cow rummages in the trash bin next to piles of bright marigolds and roses. The cool air is thick with incense, sunrise prayers and raw humanity. Feeling this moment etching itself on my heart and soul as I pray to never again take the beautiful chaos and retched grace of life for granted.

Another incredible Thanksgiving in India. Last year I was in Varanasi with my dear friend, Jeanie Manchester, the two of us happy to spend the day in meditation and gratitude and prayer. Exactly one year later, I find myself once again contentedly gazing over the Ganga instead of eating turkey. Even though my family is on the other side of the world, I also feel them here with me. Grateful beyond belief for this magnificent life, all of the incredible beings that I get to share it with and the divine grace that holds us all.

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Every now and then we have an experience that is so mind blowingly beautiful that it’s almost too much to bear. The heart aches in its stretch to hold all of the incredible magnificence. All at once there is a burning impulse to share what we feel with the world and an intuitive knowing that no words will ever come close to capturing the fullness of what we have just lived. So we simply take a deep breath, smile quietly to ourselves and go about our day. This entire journey has been full of these moments, one after another. I have fallen head over heels in love with India all over again. Even as I write this I am moved by the sound of the priest performing morning puja. Tears fill my eyes and I know I am exactly where I am supposed to be. Sending out love and prayers from the Himalayas. 

Kirsten Warner