I have always found that many people have a similar reason for going to certain places. There are places you can go that allow you to find yourself when your soul has become lost. Meeting people that are going through similar things makes you feel like you’re not alone. This is one of the greatest things about traveling. Solo travel for me has been the most fulfilling experience and there has been very little time spent on my own.
I spent some time finding myself in Asia. It’s easy to find gatherings and lessons that rejuvenate the soul. The countries that have Hinduism and Buddhism are very open with their teachings. These deep lessons can allow you to see past your own ego. That in itself is a genuinely great lesson when you feel down, lost, and alone.
One of my favorite experiences was attending a yoga retreat in a mountainous area of Northern Thailand. It exuded spirituality with kind locals that made their own beauty products. Everything was done in a nurturing way. The food was incredible and so was that early morning coffee before yoga practice. It was chilly up in the mountains which I didn’t expect even though the instructor holding the retreat told us to bring warm clothes.
There was a Dharamshala where we would do yoga in the morning. Dharamsala is surrounded by all around Dhauladhar mountain range of the Himalayas. A Dharamshala is an outdoor yoga studio of sorts. So as I did my asana practice, I could hear tropical birds welcoming the day in. You could hear the breeze through the big leaves of the tropical plants. I never felt so present or relaxed in a yoga class. The surroundings were perfect. When I did have my eyes opened throughout the classes, I could see the large mountains towering over me. All of these aspects made my practice deeper. It’s as though my surroundings were nurturing the whole experience.
I met people from all over the world at the retreat. We would all eat dinner together and talk about our lives and what brought us to the retreat. This was the first retreat I’d ever gone to. I really enjoyed having a tribe to enjoy it with. I didn’t deeply connect with everyone over the few days but I did make some good friendships that are still there today. The whole experience made me feel a lot less alone and I realized that even when we’re out in the world, the same rules of life apply. You still have to take action if you want certain things in your life. If you want to be surrounded by good people, partying at the disco where everyone is transient probably isn’t going to be the right move.
The yoga retreat was the right move for me in many ways. My life opened up after that. I felt happy and deeply fulfilled after the retreat. I did yoga and ate good food as a dedicated practice for five days. It changed how I viewed myself and how I saw my life. Ruminating, negative thoughts didn’t exist during the retreat and they were easier to silence afterwards. I became more aware of my body as well. I began to listen to it when it said, “you’ve been at your desk for too long, go for a walk.”
I have often been a lone wolf on my travels and have spent days in my room just working on the computer. To finally come together with people and do something nurturing opened up my heart. It opened up my life to the splendour of encountering beautiful moments and kind people. Isn’t that why we travel? To meet those like-minded people who understand who we are?
To have a person who is willing to listen to your experience. They get you more than your best friend back at home. It’s as though you’ve known each other forever. When you meet people like this, you feel like you belong to the world and that’s because you do. Whenever I feel out of sorts or don’t feel a sense of belonging, I remember that my tribe spans across the globe. We are not always together but I know they’re there.
So I did find myself through the retreat because I became so spacious and open, the world opened itself up to me. It didn’t take long before I got a bunch of new friends and even found love. The rest of my time traveling didn’t come with any fear or concern. I had lessons to learn along the way but I managed them properly. I guess that’s one of the most valuable lessons of all. It doesn’t matter what happens to you but how you deal with it. Traveling creates acute situations where you really have to be on your toes. It’s handy to know that wherever I go, I always have my wits about me. I’m not a lost soul. I know myself and I represent myself with heart.
Meera Watts is a yoga teacher, entrepreneur and mom. Her writing on yoga and holistic health has appeared in Elephant Journal, CureJoy, FunTimesGuide, OMtimes and others. She’s also the founder and owner of SiddhiYoga.com, a yoga teacher training school based in Singapore. Siddhi Yoga runs intensive, residential trainings in India (Rishikesh, and Dharamshala), Indonesia (Bali). You can take a look at her website here.