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Post-India Reflections on the Path to Freedom

As day and night have grown to equal length, we are summoned by the universe to pay attention to both our own light and dark aspects, observe who we were, and ask ourselves who we want to be.

The transition from Pisces to Aries season symbolizes the authentic and boundless self-expression available to us when we realize that we are all just stardust, and every moment we can begin again.

While I am feeling the push from the zodiacal new year to take action on behalf of my soul, I find myself craving the silence and stillness I experienced during meditation (dhyana) in southern India. I have returned with a profound sense of clarity, self-direction and peaceful awareness, which I attribute to the deep-dive my body and mind underwent through twice-daily ayurvedic massage, oil baths, and other panchakarma treatments, supported by my daily meditation practice.

From exciting tuk-tuk rides into the marketplace and meeting local families to getting to know my fellow retreat participants, each experience sitting in meditation was different. Some days I felt my palms buzzing with energy, so much so that my hands began to move involuntarily. Other times I wept uncontrollably as I felt myself releasing old fears and beliefs. Most days I experienced a deeply profound sense of stillness and calmness.

As I ruminate on the meditation process, I am reminded of a quote from Mark Nepo that a friend shared with me during my trip:

"Loving yourself is like diving to the bottom of the ocean with nothing but who you are to find your way."

Sitting in meditation is saying "yes" to being with ourselves just as we are, for all that we are. And that can be unsettling; for when we sit alone in silence for long enough, uncomfortable emotions from our past often surface. Practicing meditation allows us to embrace our own vulnerabilities. It is the conscious choice to strip naked and trust that there is something left to clothe us.

Sitting in meditation is also a commitment to our highest Self. It's saying, "You are worth the time and attention to feel what you are feeling, and then realize that you are actually none of that stuff!" Like savasana, often practiced at the end of a yoga class, it is a preparation to exit just the way we came into this life: Alone!

And what a beautiful ride it becomes when we realize that all the stuff that feels so real is in fact impermanent. We are finally free to live the lives we were meant to because we know that there is a place of serenity that exists beneath our wildest fears and worries and affirms, "I've got you."

I encourage anyone interested in giving meditation a try to start at one minute per day. Yes, ONE minute. Take refuge in knowing that there is no right way to meditate. Just be with your breath. Let those moments expand as you feel able. Meditation can even be done during mundane tasks such as shampooing your hair, feeding your dog, or washing your clothes.

Because, in the end, if we are paying attention, it's meditation.

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