It’s almost mid-November and autumn is timidly settling into the coldest season of the year. Berlin’s once heart-warming hues on bushes, balconies, hedges, and trees are dying off slowly like the evaporating steam on a fragrant cup of tea.
As the days grow colder and shorter, one must make a conscious effort not to let plans and intentions shrink; for winter can have a freezing effect: it can make one’s reality go on 'temporary hibernation.' To avoid this, we at Acebe have decided to escape the chill and look for a change of air and temperature with a three week-long trip. We are going to India!
The list of things to look forward to is long: a cacophony of sounds and colors in collision, particularly in its overpopulated and hypersaturated city-spaces; strong smells of all intensities and sorts; varying customs and landscapes as we reach up north; spicy meals; and a warm atmosphere able to shake off the winter sleep from inside our bones! We are very excited about these.
In the list of things that will surely push us out of our comfort zone, we anticipate things like never-ending commutes for what would be short distances in European terms; bodies crammed in small spaces being way too close for comfort; and a great deal of culture-shock. We are also most definitely looking forward to this.
Still, this being our first encounter with the so-called ‘home of yoga,’ the decision of what to do and see in the next few weeks was not an easy one. Normally, most yoga teachers in the west would seize up the chance to attend a workshop or training under the guidance of some guru or another and further advance their practice. They would then bring this knowledge back to Europe, allegedly ‘untarnished,’ and share it directly with students over here. This was a tempting plan but we decided against it.
The reason for it is simple enough: we at Acebe are all too aware of the type of ‘wanderlust romanticising’ and ‘underhand spiritual marketing’ often going on with respect to this country, its traditions and peoples. So... this being our first trip to India ever, we decided to make the experience less about yoga and more about an encounter with difference and sameness anyway it comes --for more on difference and sameness see our previous 'yoga diaries' post :).
To remain open but grounded while we move, we have come up a list of easy ‘reminders’ bound to keep our feet on the ground while our heads explore the clouds! We have called them ’Commandments of the Conscious Traveller’ because we like its dramatic effect!
#1. Be grateful: you have a chance to go elsewhere and experience a different reality first-hand. Many others will never have such a chance.
#2. Be open and realistic: welcome inspiring and challenging realities equally and devote some time to thinking what makes them feel so.
#3. Be mindful of where you come from as it explains a lot about who you are. Do the same with those you encounter.
#4. Stay honest and humble: trips can have unexpected rewards when you do so.
#5. Practice conscious living and conscious travelling: remember that India is not just 'a holiday destination’ to consume and exploit, nor a country waiting to be discovered by you. Instead, use the destination to learn new things about yourself. You got it! The trip does not only take place outside of you.
And so, to keep you on the loop of what we see and learn, we will write a few entries on the get-go and share some of our impressions with you. Hopefully, three weeks will prove too short a time to exhaust all that India has to offer and we will leave this country wanting more. But we’ll see. If you want to stay tuned, please check our Facebook page. Namaste!