Yesterday it was like winter wonderland here in Aberdeenshire, everywhere covered in glistening white frost, and the geese calling as they made their way south. That’s what I am just about to do too.
If you too fancy chilling out and recharging in the sun, join me on the beach in Varkala from New Years. I’ve organized yoga, meditation and lots of other wellbeing teachings and treatments, just for you.
If you fancy joining us India, the deets are here – or message for more, and to follow the journey online, just watch this space!
Please feel free to share this blog, ask questions or make comments below.
I was very well organized – for me, for once.
Jeanie, the earth healer from Alaska was house + Felix sitting; Air B+B schedule much reduced but tight; final client sessions all done; and a whole morning to do the final packing… piece of cake!
Well it was until the migraine descended. So, the journey began with a flash rather than a bang and despite the trepidation that comes from knowing you’re just not functioning at optimum I found myself sitting on the small Flybe prop en-route to Manchester next to the obligatory rigger. I knew what I was going to, kind of, it was my third trip, but sitting squashed in between airport lounge breath, my overstuffed cabin baggage and a belly already swollen with travel food, the soon-to-be-svelt, slighty tanned, snoring on the beach person that I knew I would be 4/5 days hence seemed no more than a fantasy of a time gone by.
Stretched and nourished my body was ready for some rays and the caress of the ocean.
I also received some learnings. The yoga teacher at our place, “Swami I Am” told me that namaste: putting your hands together in the prayer position was like connecting positive and negative, thus creating energy.
He also explained that the greeting also meant you did not have to risk catching the other person’s, germs or bad energy in a handshake.
Wise and practical – love it!
After yoga I walked with him to buy fruit, it was an exercise in mindfulness, walking along the white line, stretching our peripheral vision. During our walk I observed his small acts of kindness along the way. At “Little Ganesh” which fast became a favourite brunch stop for me he showed me how to properly eat dosa. I knew from the previous day that there must be a knack to it and that too turned into an act of presence and awareness. I was learning a lot.
We got back to the huts just in time to see Seda had arrived.
Time for girly-ness it has been a long two years since I have seen this beautiful lady and now we have these many days in India to fill in the gaps.
Watch this space…
Goa: I landed, slept off the flight surrounded by a mosee net and my worldly-goods all 23 + 6 Kgs of them. I am not sure where the first day went to, I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw this right next door to my hut! Jake (my trainer) would have been proud!
The rest of it I spent footering around, laying on the beach, curry for lunch, mid-afternoon orgasmic choc-cocu cheese cake and proper coffee followed by vegan… well every raw vege you can think of in satay sauce for dinner. A walk along Palelom beach, freshly squeezed pineapple juice then back to the sounds of surf, passing trains, crickets, dogs and laptop keys.
The following afternoon I met a couple. She, well, she looked a bit like me. He, in his psychedelic budgie catchers with matching psychedelic shades, rolling his spliff told me of arriving here 5 years ago on 2 walking sticks with cancer, how he met this guru in the forest with whom he did an extended panchakarma (massive detox) – which was so bad at one point the puss was oozing out of his shoulders. Anyway 5 years later here he was toking away and the only crutch to be seen… well like I said those budgie catchers!
Next morning, she walked me through the forest to their yoga class, my body screamed: thank, thank you thank you. As we walked back towards the beach we came across the newly opened “Little Ganesh” where I enjoyed “glowing Skin” (beetroot, carrot, spinach, cucumber, orange, and apple juice (£1.50), followed by paneer dosa. Dosa is a type of pancake, made from a fermented batter. It is somewhat similar to a crepe in appearance. Its main ingredients are rice and black gram (GF).
On her recommendation I treated myself to a massage to get the last of the flight out of me and then had a lovely meal as I was a movie outdoors at Kala Bahia Restruant.
In energetic terms, my first week in India was all about the base chakra.
It took me almost the whole week to “actually land”. Much of that had to do with what was going on pre-travel as well as the journey itself. I had had a stressful two years but found myself at the end of it content with life again and ready to see what it had to offer. However, during the last few days I had flu followed by a migraine, so I did my preparing and packing under that cloud of “I am not thinking straight, I’ll never get this right” Know what I mean?
The official term is “scattered” and that most definitely is base chakra stuff. I’d like to share with you how that came out and resolved itself during my first week in India. If you’d like to know more about the base chakra first though, check this out-
Starting with the toes. I wore my yoga toes during “office” time. My yoga practice included some of the many poses and warm ups I already knew stretched and allowed breath to my poor squashed tootsies. I did the warms ups Seda showed me years before here they are on this little video for those of you who would also like to improve flexibility and balance.
And I walked.
Right back in the early Sekhem days, that was last century 😊 I encouraged students who tended to be scattered in their lives or turned into “space cadets” whenever they called in the energy, to simply walk every day. This has a bonus when you are travelling as you quickly get used to the area and therefore let go of the fear and anxiety of the unfamiliar.
When the post flight swelling wasn’t leaving after 2 days as per usual I spoke to “Swami I Am”. He pointed out that the bunion on my left foot and said it was partly due to a build-up of uric acid. So, every morning on an empty stomach I drank a glass of water mix with a couple of teaspoons of cider vinegar and honey.
Hampi was my first little adventure outside Goa.
Seda and I left late the night before and slept as the bus rocked us in a steady enough rhythm into the region of Karnataka. Checked in we delighted in finding Lavazza and WiFi all of 5 paces from our Guest House and the typical hub bub of life: cows, street food, playing children, backpackers and families going about their business. We moseyed that day away, strolling by the river watching the sacred bathing rituals, identifying the followers of Shiva garbed in white, Hindu pilgrims in that fabulous bright orange and those dressed up to the nines to pose with tourists like me.
I ate at Gobi Guest house where I enjoyed cashew curry with jeera rice – delicious. Next day was temple day! After many spiritual tours I would describe Hampi as an ancient village enveloped by sacred sites (from the Vijayanagara Empire), the energy is quite palpable. Even the architecture of some of the temples, the lay out of the holy of holies and design of the hermitages brought me back to those many years I spent exploring the Nile valley. There is no reason I ought to be surprised, after all when Atlantis fell her priests spread over the globe, consciousness is one, so there are bound to be similarities., yet I still gawp as a delighted child awed by the magical realisation of the spirit within me.
It was a spiritual mini adventure
It reminded me of Egypt. The energy was not as strong but it was there and there were many other similarities and why not, the priests from Atlantis went to the four corners when it fell.
We slept 2 nights there, that was three full days of exploring and chilling at the Mango tree café then back on the overnight bus. The journey is moving fast to blog at times. We arrived back in Patnem on the 23rd and ot was time to shop for the Christmas frock. By now everyone was in the party spirit and fireworks were competing with the howling street dogs at night. On
Christmas day I simply chilled out, did some writing sitting on my sofa at a nearby café while listening to the surf. Seda and I treated ourselves to vegan snickers cake and coffee at Zest and had Christmas dinner on the beach watching the Chinese lanterns carry wishes into the sky. Perfect!
This was my favourite from cafe Zest in Palolem, – anyone think they can recreate it?
Raw Beetroot Ravioli
Beetroot sliced in circles
Cashew herb cheese
Yellow pepper puree
I knew early on that my journey was to be my sadhana. Just being in India is a journey of personal healing, simply for the beingness of life here. It was my intention from the start. Travel companion, Seda and I, also decided to use our relationship in that way thus help each other on our independent journeys. It did.
By the time we reached Pondecherry we were well in the flow with each other and the days walking along the gorgeous prominade with it’s statue of Ghand, searching out “actual barrista” coffee, meditating at Sri Auro’s Ashram, cheking out the museum and generally people watching as we strolled the tree lined avenues admiring the French architecture and very clean streets, eating breakfast religiously at Sru Gurus and enjoying the fabulous lounge and WiFi with Mano our landlord at Kalaish Guest House.
I remember being in Varkala 3 years ago and there were signs and posters everywhere about the party for New Year’s Eve, getting so excited and wondering which one to choose – in the end there was no party, despite running to the beach, back to the hotel and a few other places as people called – the party was here or there. Of course, in the end we made our own party.
It wasn’t so different this time.
My cousin arrived on the 29th and we watched with interest as the posters went up and the podium erectedIt turned out to be a massive street party, not what we would call a party you understant just 100s milling the street. Myself, my gorgeous cousin Estelle Mae and my gorgeous friend Seda Shambhavi Kervanoglu were at least minor celebrities if not more, we literally could not get away from shouts of “Selfie Ma’am” reminded me of my modelling days – look out Bollywood!
On the 2nd of January we got the opportunity to meditate in Matrimandir.
For some reason this place and the whole ethos behind Auroville “got me” and I decided to make this the ultimate of my New Years rituals. Matrimandir is dedicated to the Universal Mother, a Presence or Being that has been experienced and worshiped, under different names, in most cultures of the world since time immemorial. The ancient Egyptians named her ‘Isis’, the Incas ‘Pachamama’, the Japanese ‘Kwannon’, the Hindus ‘Aditi’, the Catholics identified her with ‘Virgin Mary’, etc. Matrimandir isn’t dedicated to any particular emanation or incarnation of the Mother but to the “universal” or “cosmic” mother or creative principle.
Meditation in Matrimandir was the most beautiful, peaceful and really incredible experience. First, we had to watch a little induction movie, then we were taken by bus, to the garden where we got a further induction from a man who had left his life in Paris to stay here he had so fallen in love with the ideal. Then we walked towards this incredible golden orb, it sits in the petals of lotus so you take your shoes in one of the petals. Going through the entryway I looked up and I saw a painting with a pyramid in the centre of the lotus and a crystal at the centre of that, just where the Kings Chamber would be if I relate it to the Great Pyramid. At the top of the entryway we stopped to put on the white socks provided. Inside orb itself there was this beautiful pink hue which reminded me of the softest of rock salt lamps. I had the distinct feeling of walking back into a womb
The spiral staircase which hugs the sides of the orb is lushly carpeted in white. We stood there watching people reverently filter out again as we waited to go in. Arriving at the third tier, there is, 12 pillars, the room is white, and there are white mats perfectly placed for you to sit meditation. The object is to concentrate on the crystal ball in the centre. I absolutely could take myself back there to the blueprint of perfection and my soul parts were returning to me
It was quite an incredible experience, I am so grateful that the 3 of us had been able to share it. I felt so full of love as I walked through the gardens afterwards and took time processing stood under the banyan tree. We went directly from their to the airport where we said a tearful goodbye to Seda and boarded our flight to Thrivandrum in Kerala.
Feels like home, this is where I settled 3 years ago and this time it’s for a month.
Varkala is breathtakingly beautiful, clean and so peaceful. It is a tiny backpacker’s enclave where every other shop front has yoga or therapies, the beach is fantastic and Keralan food is out of this world. Sitting on one of the clifftop’s many restaurants and juice bars I said to Estelle it feels like we are on a space station, so many people coming and going, many woman my age, like me, laptop in hand business to take care of long distance, trekkers, keen young yogis and yoginis, families and other travellers taking rest from the rigours of travelling India proper or having a beach stop before exploring the backwater delights of Kerala. For me it has meant doing some retreat work with Chandra but also at last time to sit and work a few things out and concentrate on my own health and wellbeing. More of that to come in my Panchakarma journey – coming soon!
I am so happy here, just love it! Waking early for meditation, yoga, dosha (fermented rice flour pancake) for breakfast (75p), quick trip into town for printing, having “office time” looking at that amazing view while drinking Italian coffee and sipping freshly squeezed pineapple juice. Late afternoon surf and sand and ended up lying between a didgeridoo player and a native red Indian singer with a shamanic rattle as I watch the sun go down. Honest – it just happened. Yogis doing headstands paved the path home, teaching Osho: Reminding yourself of the Forgotten Language of Talking to you BodyMind to a mixed language group, and dinner was an organic vegan buffet for around £3.20 💖💖💖