So, I returned last Sunday, along with Darrel, sadly leaving the rest of our group and beautiful Nepal behind. Ashrams and Artisans was a breathtaking, beautiful, inspiring and challenging trip. Our days were so richly full that I am still reflecting on and absorbing all we experienced and learned. I’ve been trying to describe to friends and family the spent time with a Buddhist lama, three reclusive Hindu Sadhus, a Swami on an ashram and each other talking deeply, curiously, respectfully and lightly, too, about the spirituality of Nepal. I’ve been sharing photos of my homestay with the family of Paubha master painter Lok Chitrakar who taught me about the spiritual foundation for his work and whose family warmly welcomed me, including me in festival of Ganesh and dressing me in sari and bling for the final celebration dinner. I can still feel the warmth of the sun that rose as we met for yoga in the mornings at the foot of beautiful mountain, and am still resonating with all the facets of our hike up to Chandragiri temple: the difficult climb, the steady support and encouragement of the group, the gorgeous views, a moment in the clouds of true presence, the surreal arrival at a Disney-like park around the ancient temple, and the descent in a Swiss-worthy gondola: a perfect metaphor for the many co-existing truths we discovered during our travels. We visited temples, markets, more temples, enjoyed really good discussions, laughed a lot, connected with each other and ate well! I can barely sum it up here, but it was good. So very good. I feel grounded, happy and at peace on the one hand, and also am struggling a bit with “re-entry”, adjusting to our very quiet newly empty nest, and wondering how to integrate all I have just experienced.
I am remembering the feeling of returning from living overseas and wondering if I had dreamed the experience. As a child, when we wanted to say we were going really, really, really far away, to a place no one could even imagine much less visit, we would say we were going to the surely imaginary realm of…. Kathmandu! Now I’ve been there! But I feel like I’ve been caught in a wrinkle in time. Even as life went on here mostly as usual, I was being rocked, transformed, delighted and expanded in a place halfway around the world.
I feel so grateful, amazed that it really happened. So now, how do I keep the openness, the curiosity, the flexibility, and the willingness to connect alive in my life going forward? I am thinking about the seamless way we experienced spiritual practice interweaving family life and daily routines, and also with art, especially the traditional Paubha painting practiced by my host family father. I’m thinking about the concept of gods or representations of gods in art as incarnations of facets of our own humanity, and also about the idea that we each embody divinity when we act in compassionate ways. Where do I find my inspiration to be compassionate and kind? When I act in compassionate and kind ways do I feel a greater connection to the divine? I’ll be noticing.
We heard from all of our spiritual teachers that we are all one. I have to say I felt this in our group from nearly the first day. Remarkable! Amrit and Claire, the dream team, created a safe and steady space for our group, and through thoughtful exercises helped us come together so quickly, with trust and respect. I felt seen and cared for by everyone on the trip; what a tremendous gift. Thank you fellow Dragons. We were only together for 10 days, but we stepped right in to learning about each other through our life maps, exercises and discussions, in a way that I hope will keep us connected for life.
Thank you, Dragons HQ, for all you do. This trip gave me so much, and I begin to hope that I might take part again in the future. It would be hard to match the all around greatness of this trip, but I’d be willing to give it a try.