Victoria Adams and I have just come to the end of a most extraordinary month in Northern India... It has been colourful, fragrant, wild and wonderfilled. We have soared to the heights of the Himalayan hills and dived deep beneath the cool, soothing, holy and healing glacial waters of the Mother Ganga river. We have treaded lightly upon the foothills of the Himalaya earth, stretched lively on Yoga mats, at other times been as still as the mountain- so it appears to be. We have sung our hearts out with hundreds/thousands of fellow Yogis in unison and harmony at sheer celebration of life and our shared being-ness. In that we have cried tears of sorrow, many many more tears of joy and bliss our spirits together aflame. We have sat at the feet of great masters of the ancient teachings of Yoga, been lifted by their wisdom, our resistance to Peace softened in the space of their Love. We have come to quietness, unheard of; it is the silence that resists neither sound nor thought.. We have experienced blessings and kindness of spirit beyond anything we could possibly imagine. We have been inspired by the greatness of these resilient and formidable Indian, Nepalese and Tibetan people, many of whom live in such difficult circumstances with tremendous dignity and integrity. We have been deeply 'in this world' yet we have experienced happenings so transcendant that the arising has felt to be 'not of this world’….
As I write from Delhi Airport we are having our last cup of spicy masala chai tea. We are leaving India so deeply heart-warmed, stirred and soothed that we are already planning our return.
Thank you everyone for your interest in the next years Springtime North India Retreats. You can find more information and dates on the website: click here.
Words and photos by Victoria
If there’s one thing I’ve learnt about India it’s that, truly, nothing is in control. Things run late, if the man says tomorrow, it probably means next week. If you order your supper, your dessert may arrive 1 hour before your meal. You might go crazy at the sound of the beeping horns and scooters and then calm at the sight of the soothing Maa Ganga, her turquoise waters surging peacefully southward. It’s true, nothing is in control: including how it might make you feel. Being in a the alcohol free zone of Rishikesh heightens your senses to everything this wonderful country has to offer. This is India. And I love it.
India From The Back Of A Scooter
It is two months now since my extraordinary month in Northern India, and the words I use still do not quite live up to describing the experience. Colourful, fragrant, chaotic, calming. On my first visit to Rishikesh – the “yoga capital of the world” – a city which is totally vegetarian and alcohol-free, I had spent my time closeted high up above the River Ganges (the Maa Ganga). I was closeted away with my teacher, Maa, listening and studying from the comfort of her wooden cabin high above the sounds, smells and stereotypes of the buzzing Indian Holy city below.
I had spent a hair-raising afternoon on the back of my indian friend’s Triumph motorbike. Jag drove us through the bottlenecked and bejewelled market streets of Rishikesh. Meandering across cliffside motorways with a jaw-dropping close-up view of the River Ganga below we raced on to the wide-empty countryside roads bordered by the greenest rice-paddy fields I have ever seen.
The Warmth Of The Indian People
This was India. So many different “zones” for the western eye to richly feast on. In most places it was poverty on paper; and yet you would be amazed at how the Indian people show gratitude for their rich lives. A beaming toothless smile from the woman propping up her roadside tarpaulin home was one of the many testaments to that. We tunnelled forwards and through the traffic, arriving at Jag’s farmhouse at dusk with a hot cup of his mother’s masala chai waiting for us.
My trip to this place has never left me: driving there, being there, not even my departure has left me. I remember how Jag’s mother’s orange sari burned just as bright and clear as the sun setting over their green, green fields, one arm resting in her son’s arm and the other waving goodbye until we were both well out of each other’s sight. Though my hair was a sight after the motorbike journey, my heart and belly were full. Besides, the hair was no bother: all I could see was a country and people with whom I have fallen in love.
The Chaos Without And The Peace Within
There is something about India that seems to bring us closer to our own hearts and to each other. There is something about the way it stirs us. It can challenge us. Then it brings us to a place where the dust settles and we realise that there was nothing waiting to be settled all along.
No matter what life has or hasn’t thrown at you, how much you’ve read or how long you’ve held tree pose, India really does offer you the chance of enlightenment. It offers you, amidst all of the challenges, the chance to lighten up in the face of them all.
Read the rest of this article at The Voice of Calm
This is India
I have come to the end of an extraordinary month in Northern India. It has been colourful, fragrant, chaotic and yet calming. On my first visit to Rishikesh, the “yoga capital of the world” a city which is totally vegetarian and alcohol-free, I had spent my time closeted high up above the River Ganges (the Maa Ganga) with my teacher, Maa, listening and studying from the comfort of her wooden cabin high above the sounds, smells and stereotypes of the buzzing Indian Holy city below. I had spent a hair-raising afternoon on the back of Jag’s - my indian friend’s - Triumphmotorbike weaving from the bottlenecked and bejewelled market streets of Rishikesh, meandering across cliffside motorways with a jaw-dropping close-up view of the River Ganga below, to the wide-empty countryside roads bordered by the greenest rice-paddy fields I have ever seen. We tunnelled forwards and through the traffic, arriving at Jag’s farmhouse at dusk with a hot cup of his mother’s masala chai waiting for us. My trip to this place has never left me: driving there, being there, not even my departure has left me. I remember how Jag’s mother’s orange sari burned just as bright and clear as the setting sun, one arm resting in her son’s arm and the other waving goodbye until we were both well out of each other’s sight. Though my hair was a sight after the motorbike journey, my heart and belly were full. Besides, the hair was no bother: all I could see was a country and people with whom I have fallen in love. If there’s one thing I’ve learnt about India it’s that, truly, nothing is in control. Things run late, if the man says tomorrow, it probably means next week. If you order your supper, your dessert may arrive 1 hour before your meal. You might go crazy at the sound of the beeping horns and scooters, and then calm at the sight of the soothing Maa Ganga, her turquoise waters surging peacefully southward. It’s true, nothing is in control: including how it might make you feel. This is India. And I love it.
The rest is another story; there is simply too much to tell. For now, and to honour the saying that a picture says a thousand words, here are two of my favourites. There is something about India that seems to bring us closer to our own hearts, and to each other. There is something about the way it stirs us. It can challenge us. Then it brings us to a place where the dust settles, and we realise that there was nothing waiting to be settled all along.
TII: This is India, which each of these women embraced. Each of the women you see in these photos have a story, none of which need to be told. Each of these women went on a journey, which began before the moment they booked their flight. Each of these women trusted, and that which they gained from India was matched by the weight of what they chose to let go whilst there. What is unusual about each of these women - and I do not know if it’s something about India that spurred this - is that they all connected before even getting on the plane from London. From start to finish, the bonds they made were rooted in support, love and laughter. Weeks on now, this has not changed. TII, and amen to that.
I will be posting more stories from India over the next few weeks on Instagram: click here to follow, if you wish to see more.
By Victoria Adams
I do not know this man. He does not know me. We passed each other almost every day; or, better said, I passed by him. He was often sat in the same place, or on his way to a place he had been many times before. Not that different from me, really, every day walking out the steps of my 'same same' schedule to and from the same satsang and yoga halls in Rishikesh. But in between the routine days and eye-meets-eye acknowledgements we would exchange as strangers, there was a depth. I still don't really know what that was. But it was in his eyes, and possibly mine too. We did not meet for the first time and we may never meet again - we needn't. This man is no character in my story nor am I in his. For me he is a reminder. He reminds me that every faceless stranger I pass, every peer, friend, partner and family member I know well, has their own story that has nothing to do with me whatsoever. And that there is a depth that I may never know nor need to understand or make any judgement of. To see the beauty in that and in them would be enough.
I am thinking a lot about this. About how I judge my own choices mostly, and sometimes others'. Is it for us to decide or judge, wouldn't it be more to simply appreciate that there is a beauty in the depth that we actually have no idea what is going on? Of simply acknowledging that we all choose to lead our lives, speak, work, spend our free time, post on Instagram, comment on Twitter, ramble over cups of tea? Judgement takes up a lot of time and energy. Particularly when we judge or agonise over stories that we do not really know or understand. Appreciating that we are all doing the best that we can (and very likely next year, the 'best' will have moved on to being 'better') is enough, and is rather beautiful.
On Freetox retreat the simple tools are:
1. Truly healthful and easeful movement and exercise; Yoga, Deeply Effective Breathing and Tai Chi.
2. Encouraging the choice to consume healthful, wholesome, delicious and organic food and drinks in modest portions. You will be well satiated.
3. “Restful Awareness”. This non-practice refers to discovering that true nature of being that is simply aware, perceptually open and actionless. Our most subtle and peaceful essence and presence we are simply reminded of through hearing the ancient Freedom teachings, realising it is “That I Am”
4. Lots of opportunity to have fun and to be INJOY, early til late.
5. Deepest Rest is encouraged in allowing everything to be, discovering our true nature, all transcendant. There is no need to understand this simply accept the invitation back to Oneself.
Daily Schedule (possibly like this)
7am Chanting/Relaxation/ Tea Ceremony…
8am Yoga-Energetic practice
8:30 Yoga cont’d-Hatha Steady Practice
10am Juicy Breakfast
12.30 5 Tibetans; Yoga for Life…
1pm Lively Liquid Lunch-
2pm Restful Awareness, Long Walk or Personal time
4:30 Afternoon Fruit snacks.
5;15 Tai Chi or Walk
6:20 Yoga Restorative; Relaxing practice
8pm Dinner-Delight from Boghill cookbook
A light healthy meal (Wheat free, dairy free, sugar free and caffeine free-if you wish)
10pm Evening Entertainment: Spirit Circle with contemporary meditations,relaxation and/or chanting with Songs before sleep. Another option would be an exciting night out neath the moon or in the pub-shade ;-)…
A deeper philosophical look if you wish:
“To do without desire for the fruits of the action”
This, in effect, is how the Yogis define Karma Yoga to be. Yes it makes no logical sense whatsoever yet within this is expressed all of the epitimy teachings of the many masters through time. Their teachings time and time again have suggested that to ‘ stop seeking’ is fundamental to realising that blissful true nature of Self.
Yet this is not what we learn in a world of apparent Good and Evil, Success and Failure. We learn to strive and to, through will, drive ourselves and that we deem to be ours forward in life. A restful state of being is difficult to realise in lives where we must get ahead, lest we fall behind. Is it any wonder that exhaustion in its many facades overwhelms so many of us (in the western world in particular).
To quote a more modern day master : “ For each action, there is an equal and opposite reaction! “ This is Isaac Newton’s third law of motion. Yoga perceives the world of form in exactly this way. The Karmic realm appears as a restless swirling tide of cause and effect, constant action and reaction. There is no effort that can free us from that. It may seem logical that by doing enough Good deeds they are bound to cancel out the Bad deeds yet this is not so. An expression of this would be the diet mentality of “Being Good”. How long can one keep on being “Good” before, maybe in a moment of weakness, being “Bad” arises and possibly or likely takes over. Are you familiar with such a scenario?
The modern day practice of “detoxing” is often just so. For this to be, to begin with it presupposes that a toxic state is present. This in itself is a very toxic perspective. Does not a detox pre-empt its subsequent balancing retox and so the restless cycle continues and this whirlwind for many will spiral erattically out of control on its rollercoaster ride.
The “Freetox Formula” rather, embodies the most direct and ancient teachings of Rest, Peace and being Relaxed and at Ease. It perceives everything as it is rather than projecting how it should be. Rather than identifying with the constant flux of how things appear, there is a turning, neither inward nor out, to realise that unmanifest presence which animates all that is. Its suggestion is that it is possible to tune into and live as the highest possible intelligence that is available to us. It is the very intelligence that skilfully creates, sustains and reconstitutes all that is; expressed as the very cycle of nature itself. Its whisperings create a sound that equates with silence. In going beyond the logical, endless, noisy demands and screaming instability of mind there is discovered a space of stillness. The “Freetox Formula” restfully invites us unto this reality of stillness.
There it is, Absolute INJOY to rest!
Discover the benefits of learning how to juice for weight loss and health in a few simple steps.Beginning your day with a cup of hot lemon juice is a tremendously cleansing practice. You may have heard that being a citrus fruit, lemon juice must be acidic in nature, yet surprisingly despite this, drinking lemon juice has an alkaline effect within the body.
It is widely known that the root of many illnesses is seated in the over acidic environment often created within the fibres and cells of body. The modern day diet and heightened stress levels have alot to answer for in this . This unhealthy internal environment caused by acidity is often accentuated by conventional exercise. Paradoxically through jogging and gyming, etc many may believe that they are improving their health yet when such activity greatly increases the acidity of the body it is not conducive to health, wellbeing or longevity. Herein your early morning lemon juice will be of great benefit, particularly if for you it replaces coffee. Light exercise such as walking or more ideally swimming early morning will have very beneficial effects on your energy levels and “internal fire”
This brings us to our mid morning, what we might call our late breakfast juice. Some say it is best to avoid fruit juice if you would like to enjoy the greatest benefits from juicing. A general rule when juicing is to eat fruit and drink vegetables. Certainly if you combine vegetables and fruit well it can be of tremendous benefit to you. Listen to what the master- Juicemaster suggestshttp:
Natural green juice from green leafy vegetables is possibly as alkaline a type of juice as you could drink. Where possible vegetables and green leaves in particular should be organic for juicing purposes.
For years I have allowed myself to be shy and not promote that which I do and share in Yoga. Best though to step this silly self out of the way and suggest how easy it is to be absolutely healthy in Attitude and Perspective and from there to realise health in Spirit, Mind and Body. Tapping into the tremendous intelligence that is available to us is so powerful yet so simple. And the outcome of this is so wonderful. It is to be “INJOY” regardless of circumstance or appearance. It is that which the masters through time have invited us unto. It is the natural state and nothing can be done to create it. Through reminding, we simply remember to rest as it. It is “THat I Am” the ancient teachings resound. They remain more fresh and new than any contemporary philosophy.