When I traveled to India in 2011, I was terrified. I had just completed my yoga teacher training and India was the place I was most afraid to go, but the place I most wanted to go. When we arrived, I wrote about feeling like I was throwing my fears out the window because the culture was so different than mine and all of my fears were being challenged so quickly and so repeatedly. The 'culture shock' was intense to say the least, but after a month there, I felt calm and connected. When we came back home, I felt an almost bigger 'shock' coming home. India changed me. In India, people (in general), are very connected to their families, to the Earth, to their home. Many families live in extended family situations, many walk barefoot ( I realize many do this because of lack of money, but many do it by choice), and they respect and honour the Earth. Some complete rituals on a daily basis in honour and reverence of both the Earth and the many Gods (33,000 there abouts). The people are in general connected through their root chakras (the energy centre in the lowest part of the trunk of their bodies and legs) that connects them to the Earth and through their crown chakras (the energy centre in the crown of the head) that connects them to the Divine, to Spirit, to their Souls. This connection is a feeling that emanates from the people of this place. I realize that India has more than its share of poverty and corruptness and so much more, but this feeling was so pervasive and soothing. I felt like I was cradled and nurtured from above and below. I felt love emanating from the people no matter how dire their circumstances. I felt nourishment and love put into and therefore emanating from the food. I felt devotion. I realize that many people love or hate India. There were many things that terrified me which I will save for another story another day, but overall India made me feel cozy. I have been searching for that same feeling since the day I returned home.
When I came home after a month in India, I felt lost. I was excited to see my kids and be in my oh-so-comfortable bed and go to the fridge to get food without having to eat every meal out and to not have to eat curry at every meal, but there was this overall feeling of something not sitting quite right. Something was out of alignment in this place, in this country, in this 'western mindset'. Sure, there are so many 'New Age' thinkers and people are doing yoga and meditation at every turn these days, but there was an overall feeling of coziness and 'being held' by Mother Earth and the Divine that was missing. I have always been one to 'feel' people's energy and I felt like the people here including me were 'running around like chickens with their heads cut off' as I described it. Yes, family is important here. Many of us, like me, are very connected to our extended families even. But there is an overall sense of devotion to the land and our Souls that is drastically undervalued here in our culture.
This respect, honour, and devotion to the Earth and Spirit can be seen in all Indigenous culture throughout the world. We can learn from these cultures. It is time for us as westerners, to be open to the teachings of that bring us closer to the Earth and Spirit. Anything connecting us to both of these is important work for the Earth and All Its Beings at this time. We can find the comfort and that sense of being cradled. We can feel connected to Spirit and Earth as we are meant to feel. I believe I went to India to directly experience this contrast so that I could come back and search for that connected feeling again, here in this place.
Since I have been home, I have been looking under every rock and in every nook and cranny for that feeling again. And along the way, here are some of the things I have learned:
1. Everything has a Soul and everything is alive.
The Ocean, the Sky, the Plants, the Trees, the Earth, the Flowers, the Animals, all have a Soul. Great reverence is paid to these precious Souls in all of our actions.
2. Nature's natural state is Love. Animals' natural state is Love. Humans' natural state is Love. Be Love.
3. Our bodies are the Earth.
Everything has a Soul. The Ocean, the Sky, the Plants, the Trees, the Earth, all have a Soul and are all alive. Our bodies are the Earth, our veins are the rivers, our bones are the Earth, our digestion is the Fire, and our breathe is the Air.
4. The Land is our Medicine and we are its Medicine. This is a big one for me. I have always thought of nature as our healer, but us being the healers of the Earth? I recently watched a video of the gloomy city, then pan to the black and white nature beside with all the toxins rushing into it...then this young woman walks into the forest and starts to dance. The colour begins to come alive in all of nature. She dances her ritual dance with her ritual blanket and all comes alive, singing and dancing. We are healing for the Land. Sit with this one.
5. Nature wants us to SLOW DOWN and BE PRESENT. This is why nature is so beautiful and animals are so dang cute. You actually can't be in nature and actually looking at a mountain or ocean or sitting by a river or staring at a flower or petting a dog without feeling a flicker of something. In our busy, important lives, though, we move so fast that we skim our eyes across the beauty or don't even look because we are stuck to our phones... Just try something. Make a trick for yourself that every time you see something in nature, you will be triggered to take a deep breathe. Just setting this intention by telling yourself this will happen, will trigger your body to remember to do this. At first, it might happen all the time, but as you practice, it will become ingrained.
6. In this same vein, nature wants us to connect. Nature provides the richness of life and of connection. Richness involves sensuality. Sensuality is the practice of using the senses. When we skim through life on our way to the next event or thing or success, we miss out on all the depth and richness of life. Nature offers this richness and is quietly begging us to partake. In my work with Horses, I have learned how they help Humans with this connection. Horses have a huge heart chakra or measurable electromagnetic field around their hearts (for the scientifically minded). When we are with them, we are naturally affected by this huge field of love. When a human is with a horse and busy in his/her own mind with a million things that are unrelated to the moment at hand, the horse will not connect with you. The horse will probably wander off and do its own thing, not choosing to be with you. If the human is having strong emotions, but putting on a fake face or pretending this intense fear or anger or anxiety doesn't exist, the horse will either mirror this behaviour back or go as far as possible from this person. In these ways, horses will inspire us to 'work out our shit' so that we can be with them in their herd in a calm, settled manner. Medicine horses are interested in helping us through this. If they have the opportunity to do the work, they will help move out old, stuck energy from our bodies and allow space for new, fresh, light-filled energy to enter. They do this in a subtle manner, usually at the back of the human, much as they groom each other in nature (but we don't allow them to actually bite or nip at the back of us).
7. Remember that nature is pouring her Love on us at all times, we just need to be open to receive. I realized this the other day. I was sitting, looking at my dog. He wasn't looking at me or fawning over me like he often does... He was just laying near my feet, sleeping. I focused on my heart at that moment and realized that he is always pouring love all over me. His heart is open and he is here with me, choosing to be with me. That is love. I have been so busy pouring my love all over others and nature in a yang, or doing way, that I forgot about the receiving, yin, feminine act of receiving with my heart wide open. This was big for me. Over the past week, I have spent much more time receiving and enjoying that cozy feeling of being loved.
8. Just enjoy the experience of being surrounded by the magic of life. Daily, we have a myriad of experiences that we pass through. We often get very stuck on whether experiences are good or bad, easy or difficult, etc. Why not just enjoy the experience as that? Why not be the watcher, watching our bodies react to our emotions or other people's emotions, watching us try to fix or change events that are happening. Just basking in the experience of life.
These and many other wise messages have come to me over the years since I returned from India. Being overwhelmed by anxiety much of the time throughout my life (which is a root chakra issue of losing energy out of this chakra because of overwhelming and often unexplained fear), I felt the call to search long and hard for a peaceful, calm, grounded life. After understanding the importance of being close to nature based on the lessons mentioned above, I have uprooted my family and we are moving to 5 acres on a small gulf island. I am someone who gets overwhelmed by the speed of society and life. I need daily grounding, through doing the morning rounds of petting and connecting with all the animals, I need to wake up to the sound of birds and not the garbage truck, and I need to fall asleep to the sound of the wind. I need to look out the windows and see trees, and I need to walk in the garden and pick much of my food.
Not everyone needs this influx of nature every day to survive. I, however, do and have a dream of providing a mini-India experience for people who come and visit our farm. My wish is that people will come to Soulfarm, experience the connectedness and the groundedness there, feel that connection in their bodies and then venture back into their own lives. I hope that people will feel that difference. I hope that they will feel the jarring sensation that I felt when I returned from India, that feeling of being a little lost, so they too will hear their Soul calling them to reconnect with the land. Nature will heal all ailments, nature will cure all ills. It will reconnect you with your Soul.