“Sometimes you find yourself in the middle of nowhere and other times, in the middle of nowhere, you find yourself.”

01.09.17 | Fear of change, India, Sabbatical, Travel

A short article extracted from “Revolutions” is featured in We Said Go Travel on the theme of “Independence – Where do you find freedom?”

So, ever wanted to take a retreat?

“Retreat, hell! We’re not retreating; we’re just advancing in a different direction.”

Read on …

Reading time: 4 minutes.

I wake at four o’clock. I walk to the window and look out. It’s black with no moon and no light. I suddenly have a deep realisation that there is nothing more to understand. I don’t know what I’ve been searching for. Actually, it’s not the what; I don’t know why I’m looking for answers at all. It seems the more I know, the less I understand, so why search? Just be pure, clean and happy.

Quickly, however, my thoughts turn to my nervousness regarding today’s purgation. The others have told me their horror stories of vomiting and defecating for hours on end. The benefit of an Ayurvedic purgation day is that there’s no morning medication and no six o’clock wake-up knock. I have a real desire to be warm today, so I open the heavy curtains to let the sunlight in. Heaven forbid if it was raining and dark today. The errand boy of the resident doctor here at the Ayurveda retreat in the hills of Southern India arrives with my purgation paste and hot water. Thankfully the paste is not as foul as the oily slime I have been taking every morning for the last ten days. He watches me swallow the gunk and explains that my body will now take over.

I lie down again and wait. Incongruently, I feel absolutely fine. I’m back in bed and I take turns reading and dozing. Nothing happens. There is either nothing left to purge or the paste is not strong enough. At eleven o’clock the Doc checks in on me. He says that it’ll take time and that I only need a mild purging. Is this true or has his paste not worked? I sit outside on the balcony in my favourite chair and take in the mountainous view. I feel good, completely the opposite of how I thought I would.

…//…

 

 Since purgation day, I have slept fantastically well and I now seem to automatically wake before six o’clock for my medication and then go back to bed and fall again into deep sleep. I then wake just before the breakfast bell. My routine now is to miss early morning yoga, sleep in, dine on a delightful papaya breakfast, chat in the garden with the other inmates, have my morning treatment and sit in the sun. I’ve come a long way from last week when I was scheming to cut my stay short. It is also apparent that as my mood wavered and I struggled to settle, the weather was also interchangeable. Since I have accepted being here, the weather has been bright and sunny. The last couple of days have been so good.

I feel so anti-thinking. I have a resistance to meditating, thinking too much or working stuff out. I enjoy the interactions with the people here now too. They’ve grown on me incredibly but mostly I enjoy the solitude of just being with myself. I don’t think I’ve ever felt this way before. There’s always been something to do or someone to see. In my chair outside my cell in the sunshine, I feel an incredible sense of peace.

The overriding sensation is the feeling of not having to do anything. I mean it this way, in comparison to not having anything to do. I don’t remember a time like this. I don’t have to go to yoga, I don’t have to go to treatments and I don’t have to go to lunch if I don’t want to. Last week, I had to get up at six o’clock for yoga and I had to go again at midday. At home, even on the laziest days, I have to make the dinner or watch the football or cut the grass. I don’t have to do anything at all here. What an amazing feeling!

 

 …//…

 

It really is my last day here. My last six o’clock wake up knock for my slime medication. It will be my last meal bell. The last time being confused that every clock here is set to a different time. The last of the warmest of interactions with all the staff here and the last time I will watch the old gardener chase the monkeys away with his stick. These little daily rituals are as much about being here as the treatments, the medications, the yoga, the meditations and the natural food. But also sadly no more sitting outside my cell in the sun fully in peace with the world. I feel like I’ve been here forever and it feels like I’ve been here for the shortest time too.

I’m happy I’ve done this and I’m even happier I have reached the end. It’s the weirdest, toughest and most soothing thing I think I have ever done. I’m a bit afraid of joining life again.

Namaste.

“Retreat, hell! We’re not retreating; we’re just advancing in a different direction.”

Oliver Smith, World War II & Korean War Veteran.

This short article is an adapted excerpt from my book  “Revolutions” and was entered in a competition on  We Said Go Travel. It can also be read on the We Said Go Travel site here.

The full story can be read in the book – order it here.

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