Starting in Rishikesh, India, I embarked on a huge change in my life. Leaving everything back at home, the job, the security, family and friends, I decided to go on this search. I thought I knew why I was going…I told myself I was going to learn more yoga, more ayurveda, keep studying in Rishikesh. I have learnt now that it is impossible to plan anything, and it did not take me long to realise this, soon after landing here in India.
My my plan to stay in Rishikesh was quickly changed by chance meeting with some very special people. Carrying 27kg of luggage, including ayurvedic herbs, heavy text books on yoga and ayurveda, blankets, socks and all sorts, in the matter of a few days I packed half of it up, bought a much lighter back pack and packaged nearly everything back to England. I realised that I was carrying with me the attachments I had identified with back at home. I was still not willing to let it go…for yoga and ayurveda are my identiy. It is who I am right? Who I thought I was. However, I quickly understood that there was a part of me that wanted to let go and embrace the adventure of travel. And so, to put things short, something very strong in my intuition led me to the mountains of Manali, Northern India. I could not explain why, I could only experience and see.
The scenery here is breath taking. The mountainous landscapes are bathed in lush green forests, with snow covered peaks in the distance. Within the valleys run fresh clear water around perfectly formed rocks. I have spent some time looking at these mountains and this landscape. I have found that my focus is very much on my inner world so far. Yes the scenery is beautiful, but for me, spending time in meditation is where I wanted to be. Everyone around me is exploring the area, and I have felt the difference in interests. It got me thinking about inner and outer world exploration.
Our outer world…in places is so beautiful. But what about our inner world? Is it as beautiful? Or is it not? Yoga is union. Union of outer and inner world, to the point where you realise we are one and the same. There is no ‘I’ or ‘you’ – the physical body is simply a vehicle of this lifetime, one we must eventually drop identification with. So we can look at these beautiful landscapes, but does the mind viewing it change? Our focus on the inner and outer world must find some balance. If you look at how we treat our outer world, we can see that we also treat the inside the same. When you are not connected somehow to the beauty of the outer world, our inner world is disconnected also. And so, we see a beautiful landscape – and our emotions are raw, they feel love, they feel truth, we realise things and think deeply. The outer and inner worlds are reflections of one another. They are one and the same. How we treat our outer world is a reflection of how we treat our inner world, and vice versa.
And so, how are these two worlds connected? Let us focus on the physical connection. The universe and our world is composed purely of the 5 elements. Ether (space), air, fire, water and earth. Our physical bodies are also the same. I aim to go into detail about each of these in future posts, but for now I want to share my realisation about perhaps why I have been drawn to the mountains, instead of the baking heat of Rishikesh. Is this pull towards the mountains a call for my grounding? Are we drawn to natural landscapes according to what we require in terms of doshic balance? And is this linked to the desire to travel? A desire to balance ourselves. Is our outer world trying to communicate to our inner world?
As a predominantly vata / pitta personality according to Ayurveda, I have a lot of air, ether and fire within me. I like to move a lot, I cannot stay still, both physically and mentally. Whilst this serves me well in terms of creating something and making it happen, I lack grounding, and this shows in my moments of unrest. And so, I felt it in my intuition to be called to the mountains, where earth and water predominate, the kapha dosha…the dosha which will balance me, the one I need to enhance more of. And so, I must get out there to them and learn – what can I learn from these mountains and rivers? I simply observe them and become them, observe their qualities and allow them to permeate my inner world. The mountains are cool, strong, still, majestic, powerful, resilient and unshakeable. Wherever the mountains are, there they remain. Unlike heat and wind, they do not move quickly. The weather around them comes to pass, they remain unaffected by storms, sunshine or snow. I think about the kapha type people in my life and they show the same qualities.
How can I cultivate this grounding within myself? I am very much like the wind and fire, quick to move, always changing my mind, changing my direction, my intensity. I am here to be the qualities of a mountain. But not the qualities I once feared…for I view such stand still as limitation, boredom and dullness. Instead I now take on the qualities of resilience, strength and power. Within myself, my inner world. The sharp peaks can reflect focus and direction….always moving up, never down. The strong foundation can reflect my roots and culture, the strength and enormity can reflect a power within myself, unaffected by changing weather patterns.
And what about water? The water here is again powerful, strong and flowing. As it flows it makes its path. In parts it is still, in others it is ferocious and fast. It adapts to a situation without any kind of resistance. Like the water, I can learn to adapt to my surroundings and go with the flow, moving strongly when I need to, and also taking rest when I need to. I can learn to surrender and let go to the path that lay before me.
And so, I believe I have been drawn to these natural landscapes for this reason, a calling to learn a balance within my inner world. The key is to open my eyes, not be scared and embrace what is around me. We are so intimately linked to our outer world physically, and ayurveda helps me to understand this. We have so much to learn in observing nature – for it is one and the same as us. We look upon the beauty of a landscape and we feel emotional because we see that beauty within ourselves. But maybe if our senses and awareness are not alert enough, we fail to recognise it. And so we go on the search…more travel, more scenery, to see the beauty of our outer world in hope that we recognise it within ourself and try to balance these inner and outer worlds, ultimately leading us to yoga….Union.