I just came back from my first trip to India. I've been wanting to visit India for a long time but I always got overwhelmed when the idea of planning a trip there came up. India is so big. There are so many people and languages. Then this year one of my teachers invited me to go with her to see her guru.
She asked me during a class I was taking with her over the summer. "Do you want to go to India?" she said, very casually. I said, "I've always wanted to go to India....." but I didn't commit at that moment. I said, "I'll have to think about it." But I knew when she asked me that I'd go. I knew in my gut and with every cell in my body.
I trust this teacher implicitly and, while I'm still trying to figure out if I have a guru (or multiple gurus), if I were to commit to one, she would be at the top of the list.
We went to my teacher's guru's Ashram near Vellore in the south of India. My eight days at the Ashram were some of the most colorful, energetic, spiritually rich days of my life. It would take me hours and days to document the different rituals and ceremonies I was privileged to be a part of; and because I was technology free, I have no photos of any of my experiences in these sacred places. It's all in my mind, in my own private little memory vault of life experiences. It feels right that I can only relive these moments in my own mind, free from any outside lens of my own or anyone else.
While we were in India, I had a momentary crisis of faith and I confided in my teacher that I was struggling. In the midst of such intense devotion around me, was my spiritual expression enough? Why did my spiritual path look so different from so many of the people around me?
My teacher looked at me with complete acceptance, openness, and said, "Laura, you have to do what works for you." She gestured with her hand in a circle across all of the devotees sitting near us, "this path is healing for me. I have my own story and you have yours. You have to follow the path that is healing for you."
It was as if a giant blister had been popped. I felt utter relief, a visceral release, to have confided in my teacher, to have been honest and clear about who I was and what I was thinking. For the rest of my time in India I did my own spiritual practices within the other ceremonies and rituals at the Ashram. In making them mine, I was able to connect with myself, and I was able to connect with the people around me. I was on my spiritual path, riding alongside all these other people, all of them on their own paths. It felt real and good and deep. I'm counting the days until I can go back to India.