Friday, December 17, 2010

Om Shanti-Shock

I've arrived in a different world, a different country, and a different time zone.

They say India is the best of the best, and the worst of the worst. The bright and beautiful, yet dusty and dirty. Land of financial and spiritual wealth, and the poorest of poor. A land that many come to find something, or to be found by something greater. Or just a place to be challenged.
There are many ways to find challenge in our lives, but in India the challenge begins when you step off the plane. Nothing is to be expected in India, and everything will rock your senses and invade your comfort zone here.

And it did.

After a few days of experiencing all the dimensions of New Delhi in the many shapes of lowest of lows and highest of highs, I booked it south. Now I find myself in South Goa, in a proper Indian summer and just in time for Christmas.

Unlike many of my previous global adventures with paths paved along my way with jamon legs, California pinots, fish sauce, German beer, Bahamian lobster, and Pacific Northwest microbrews.... I have chosen a different approach to this present 3 1/2 month adventure. My focus in India is that of my strength, my soul, my purpose, and my yoga practice. In setting that intention for myself, I have given up meat and alcohol for this journey. I've placed a significant emphasis solely on my physical and spiritual practice, and for the first time IN MY LIFE, not on the food. There will be no title change from Gypsy Chef to Gypsy Yogi or anything crazy like that.... just a little test for myself. And I do have sources on standby with suckling pig and an IV of sangria to bring me back to life once I return to Spain in spring.

As this is a very strong journey for me all together, it is the very first that I have chosen to do truly alone. I've come to India- the country that notoriously brings up all that is hidden inside you, and as a single female. If I don't find strength and empowerment from this journey, then I really don't know where the hell else to find it!

One of my favorite poems to regain focus, light, and grounding, and by a powerful woman at that...

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

from Dream Work by Mary Oliver
published by Atlantic Monthly Press
© Mary Oliver

Namaste, Ash


  1. I am excited to hear your impression of this country and the impact of the Hindu religion on their lifestyle. I have been contemplating the juxtaposition of the extremes you find in India. People set on their paths by the fate of their religion, bound to their lot, this time around. The only way I can reconcile their seeming lack of concern for their poor is that according to their beliefs, their Karma, they are hoping for a better life when they return again. So the more suffering here the better for their next time around. I believe God gives us all a sense of morality and a sense that humans are valuable because God has made us so. I think that the way a Hindi values another's life is to let them live their "path" on their own; as they all hope for something better. This is where their religion falls apart for me. It doesn't provide the best expression of love or of community nor does it really show the value of the individual as God's creation. I am praying for you on your journey. My journey has taught me that the best home and source of strength is not found within. I am very aware of a need for a savior and thankfully I have found him in Jesus Christ. His holy spirit will come and live within us and provide us with all comfort, strength and power we need to live each day. His family of fellow believers will remind us of his love. I love you Ashley Laura. Merry Christmas!

  2. Beautifully written, I'm beyond envious of your travels and this journey in particular to India. Peace & love! I'm always thinking of you and cannot wait to reunite upon your return!

    xxx Tals