January 31, 2004
Life has given me exactly what I needed
It is a moving experience when someone you barely know can tell you something profound about yourself that you have spent most of your life discovering.
My plane touched down in Mumbai (formerly Bombay) on Tuesday morning 1/26 at 12:20am (yes a.m.). After collecting my bags and making my way through customs I exited the gate and was welcomed by a sign that read my name in bold hand-printed letters. The smiling man holding the sign was Leo, the driver who was going to "take me safely to Pune" - which he did. I have been in Pune ever since, specifically Koregoan Park, near the Osho Ashram, a magnet for many international travelers.
This place has been a strange and challenging delight as it effortlessly embodies the contrasting diversity of India (and really the world): beauty and suffering, rich and poor, spirituality and capitalism, traditional and modern, East and West. With so much stimuli for all of the sense, I have been a little nutty here as I keep trying to understand it all. I have finally come to realize, thanks to the help of some of the wonderful people I have met that these things, as so many others I am to encounter in the coming months, can simply be explained with, "This is India" (Kev, that is for you!!!).
I was very anxious to jump into everything here: seeing sites, participating in meditative courses, reading books written by spiritual gurus, wearing the beautiful clothing and jewelry, taking photographs, making new friends, figuring out where I am going to next. . . that I found myself physically and emotionally strained by my second day.
Not feeling I could do much of anything I resolved to spend the next several days relaxing and allowing myself to adjust to my new environment (not just India but my life as a traveler). As is always the case, once I surrendered to the hand that life had dealt me, this seemingly sad space became one of magic and delight.
One by one, angels and gifts started dropping right in front of me, starting with Sandrine from France who took on the role of mother/care taker/sister/and devoted friend during my first few days. Next I met Tarika, a woman from Israel who has allowed me to live in her room (a beautiful, inviting and peaceful place) for the last week while she went to the beaches of Goa. I then had the pleasure of meeting David from San Francisco, who cracked open my shell of seeming like I had it all together, which has made me open and available to the generosity of so many people. Then I hooked up with Seble of Eritrea and Ameen from India, my two playmates who have made me a part of their lives as if we have been friends forever. Next there was Paulo from Italy, who touched my heart with his warm hands brilliant eyes and bright smile, all without being able to speak English. Kevin from Ohio (a seemingly old friend as we have been e-mailing for several weeks now thanks to an introduction from Bobbi), came all the way to Pune to welcome me to India in person, and has inspired me with stories of his adventures here and in Nepal. There are so many others to mention including Andrea, Yvette, Shashi, Mirjam, Mahesh, Dr. Girish, Luk, Kathleen, Fabrizio. . . that I could spend the rest of my voyage siting here writing about them, but I am sure they all know who they are even without the mention of their name.
One last angel that warrants mention is this very gentle, quite and deep Croatian man named Kruno who has been deeply caressing my soul over the last several days. I met Kruno earlier this week when he offered me a free massage as he is studying rebalancing massage, an incredibly penetrating type of therapy that involves deep breathing and removal of the emotional toxins and tension we hold in various parts of our body, and needs to practice. Every day I visit with Kruno for a massage -- these sessions have been incredibly profound experiences for me.
Yesterday, I was wandering around Koregoan Park in a sort of sad daze, trying to figure out where to go to from here. I feel I have regained my strength to take the next step of my journey and am anxious to experience a part of India that is not swarming with western tourists. Yet I have been tortured over the last several days trying to decide where to go. Shall I go to the beaches in Goa, visit the serenity of Hampi, do a 10-day Vipasana meditation retreat, engage in a program at the Spiritual University in Mt. Abu, visit the parents of a new friend in Mumbai where I have been promised to be spoiled rotten? I know it is ridiculous to have these kind of choices be like torture but there is more behind the suffering than just choosing a destination.
As much as I hate to admit it I am scared of the journey ahead. This is partly due to the fact that I do not have a clue about how to chart a course that is not about achieving a goal. It is very different and unfamiliar for me to make choices based on my heart and instinct rather than a strategic plan. I am also a bit intimidated by the transportation systems here, primarily because I am yet to use it. More importantly I am scared of the unfamiliarity of engaging in the kind of deep introspective emotional and spiritual work that this voyage has in store.
Just before my massage session with Kruno yesterday, he said, "I have noticed something about you that I would like to share. . . you are someone who has many talents and interests and thus can make wonderful things happen in the world. . . but you know, when you are so busy doing so many things you never allow yourself to experience yourself deeply. . . people like you often live this way as you are so afraid of experiencing pain and fear. . . I can not help you decide where to go next from Pune as you need to make that decision yourself, but I will advise you to trust your instincts and go some place where you can be still, be quiet and go deep. . . There is no right place for this as what you are looking for you will find in you."
Ever since I hurt my back a few years back I have been engaged in an introspective process to uncover the sources of suffering in my life. It has been a long, challenging and rewarding course that is far from over. However, during this time I have come to realize how hard I have worked to avoid pain and fear. With this insight I have taken many steps to confront many sources of pain and fear in my relationships with family, friends, lovers, and life choices. This trip is one of the many examples of such steps as it is a huge blank canvas of unknown experiences and challenges -- and it is the unknown that scares me the most.
As I said to a friend the other day who was experiencing sadness yet ashamed to let anyone know, "being sad, scared and hurt are as much a part of the human experience as love, joy, laughter, and pleasure. We should embrace them all fully as we are meant to experience them all." It is amazing that I could offer such wise words two days ago and yet be so frozen with my own fear and pain the following day. That is until my visit with Kruno.
When Kruno shared his thoughts about me, I was simply moved to tears both by the precision of his insight, and the wonderful experience of having another human being be able to articulate what I was feeling in my heart. After sitting in the comforting embrace of Kruno for a few minutes, I regained my courage to take on my fear and pain and to simply chose my next destination, some place quite with few distractions.
Thus today I decide to I am leaving Pune tomorrow, heading to Mumbai to visit with the parents of Aparajita (a new friend via an e-mail introduction from Michele) for a few days and then on to this small island called Omkareshwar which is near Indore in Madhya Pradesh. There is an Ashram there that sounds quite inviting. I hope to spend some time there, meditating, doing yoga, being still, being quiet and going deep.
I will be sure to let you know what I find.
Posted by Jyllt at January 31, 2004 10:24 AM
So much richness in your words and the people you are meeting. I love your bravery and open, open heart. May this journey just keep taking you where you need to be.
I love you, Jivanna
Posted by: Jivanna at February 6, 2004 08:44 PM
Reading your words takes me back to my own Asia/India journey--thank you.
I also see myself in you---for years I have felt the need to slow down, to be still and to be introspective--to figure out what I want out of life--what I have to offer this world. Instead I fill every second of every day---reading your entry reminds me to just be---a good reminder.
I know that your journey, while maybe difficult at times, will continue to bring you good things. I look forward to your next entry.
Posted by: Lauren at February 6, 2004 10:32 PM
Nice post, Jyll
It was so nice to meet you in Pune. It will, I'm sure, be even more fun to read of each other's adventure from today forward. You were right on when you said we are "old friends". Many of your thoughts indicate to me just how far I have come in a few months and even more importantly in quite a few more years since I was your age. You are fortunate, indeed, to have enough awareness to venture into the "unknown" in such a tangible way. One thing I can say for sure is that whichever direction you decide to take, quiet or chaotic, it will take you exactly where you are...watch your thoughts, manifest your heart's desires...this is India!
Life is just feathers and flowers...love, kev
Posted by: kev at February 7, 2004 04:51 AM
Thanks so much for including me on your list. This is wonderful; it's like reading a good book. You really have a lot of courage to let all of the familiar go and be so open to what is new and to your inner self. Harvey sends greetings. Be safe...
Posted by: Linda at February 7, 2004 06:05 PM
I'am so happy to be sharing your journey, thank you.
My love goes where ever you go..stay strong and let
your self be free..
Posted by: ron at February 9, 2004 12:05 AM
You have really touched me with your words. You have led me to see the beauty of life. It is so refreshing to hear such honesty.
Posted by: Shawn at February 9, 2004 02:45 PM
You are an awesome woman. Keep keeping on!
Posted by: Rahsan at March 12, 2004 03:52 AM