3 Spiritual Treasures Collected in India

Michelle Villarosa shares personal revelations in Hati Hati Mind. She traveled to North India with Living Atman in 2018. She is currently creating a spiritual sanctuary in Philippines.

Have you ever burst into tears out of nowhere because of all the gratitude you have? That’s me when I reflect on three life-changing treasures collected during my spiritual journey through North India in 2018.

Treasure #1: The Present Moment The moment you land, India trains you to go with the flow. Being part of a group tour, luckily we didn’t have to figure out logistical details, which meant we could fully immerse ourselves. Each evening we learned about the next day's itinerary, but India challenged our expectations again and again.

Imagine seeing hundreds of cars, bikes, wagons, pedestrians and cows making their own path through a crowded intersection. You move three paces forward and two back. Every time you feel like you're getting closer, there's another unexpected surprise. It's frustrating! The stimulation overload demands your entire focus, in every moment.

Then there are the experiences when time stands still, like getting the bill at a restaurant. Most places hand-wrote each bill, one by one. If you look around, everyone is having the same experience and it’s accepted without resistance. Again, all you can do is be present and go with the flow.

Beyond the awe in self-found experiences, there were opportunities built into the journey to be present. In Rishikesh, we nestled ourselves on the river bank of the Ganga, bathed by the sun, blessed by the life-giving river. We shared in a multi-sensory, peaceful inner reflection led by Meenu in which the now became electrifying. We were lucky to have many moments like this.

In India there was plenty of time to master the art of being present like no other place in the world. Can you say a little bit about why that is important to you or how it shows up in your life?

Treasure #2: The Energy of Loving Community When you live in the present, you feel a stronger pull towards others. At the Golden Temple, a Sikh Gurdwara (temple) in Amritsar, we felt this first-hand. We paid respects to the Guru Granth Sahib (the holy book), participated in langar (vegetarian meal offered to all who make the pilgrimage), and performed seva (selfless service). The beauty of this experience went far beyond the physical architecture of the stunning temple and its surroundings. The true beauty was felt in the peaceful, charged energy emanating from community.

With warm hearts they embraced us into their fold. On low benches, squatting, elbow to elbow, we sat with kind Indian women and buttered chapatis. They offered tips and we felt their encouragement. What was exchanged through gestures, smiles and energy was more powerful than words. At that moment our purpose was to butter chapatis with love, which would nourish the hundreds of thousands that would visit the Gurdwara that day.

I do believe that we meet people for a reason, and everyone on the trip enhanced the adventure some way. Some I’m meant to venture similar paths with for many years to come.

My roommate was the perfect match. Sandra is an animal lover, or simply a lover of all, a cat mom, nature’s best friend, and has a joyful, dancing soul. Our personalities and peaceful nature related to each other. She beams a caring glow. During an intimate meditation practice where we had to look eye to eye with our partner, it was easy to send her love. When someone is love, they attract love. The exchange was natural. It’s as if our souls were also friends.

Then there’s my soul sister, Meenu, one of the leads of the trip. She’s been by my side on my spiritual journey, encouraging me along the way and vice versa. There’s a certain quality of synergy that happens when you connect with people that are meant to be in your life. I’ll be helping Meenu guide two groups to India in 2019, and I couldn’t be more thrilled. I know this is only the beginning of our journey in service to others.

Treasure #3: The Sweetness of Oneness On this trip I realized that in every corner of the planet, we’re all connected as part of the human family.

Arriving in Dharamshala felt the most like home. The Himalayan mountain range and crisp air reminded me of Canada. We were scheduled to stay for two nights, and the stars truly aligned because on the second day there was a Long Life Offering Ceremony for the Dalai Lama. THE DALAI FRIEK’N LAMA! Typically, His Holiness is only at the main temple two or three times a year. Had we arrived a day late, or a day early, we would have missed this once in a lifetime experience, but we were there at the perfect time!

It’s hard to express the feelings I had there. I sat cross-legged overlapping knees with a smiling Tibetan man to my right, and a traveling North American woman to my left. Like family we passed rice and milk tea to each other. Thousands of people, locals, Tibetans, travelers from around the world, shared a collective pulse of love, compassion and peace. The quality of vibration was a radiating, joyful electricity. Just at that moment, in this small village of Northern India, I looked around and thought, look at how many people resonate. I was so happy.

Seeing the Dalai Lama, being in the all-encompassing presence from his Holiness and the family-like community around me, and recognizing the significance of that event set in deep. It still holds me emotional thinking about it...

If we are happy from within, release ourselves from suffering, then we can help others to do the same. It’s from this place that all living beings can live in harmony. This is how we’re all connected; all one.

So there it is. What I filled up with, through my experiences on this trip, set the path for the rest of my life; to be in service and help others find happiness from within.

When India Beckons the Soul – GO!

Michelle Villarosa shares personal revelations in Hati Hati Mind. She traveled to North India with Living Atman in 2018. She is currently creating a spiritual sanctuary in Philippines.

Let yourself be silently drawn by the strange pull of what you really love. It will not lead you astray.
— Rumi

This time last year, I wouldn’t have guessed 2018 would be such a transformative year. Never in my wildest dreams did I think my partner and I would be living in Asia, I’d visit 11 countries, start freelancing, and begin building towards something that feels akin to 'my purpose'. Sometimes there’s an event that stands out and leaves a significant impact in your life. For me, it was India.

India.

It can stand on its own and mean a million things.

I believe life unfolds intentionally and at the end of 2017, India sent me an invite. It said “Dear Michelle, it’s time to discover your inner guru. See you in February - Love India”. Exploring new places and cultures is a major reason why I love to travel, yet India had never topped my list. What made it enticing NOW?!

Maybe a sentence about the page and how it made you feel? Meenu and Pawan at Living Atman meticulously chose every detail to align with the purpose of the trip - meeting your inner guru. Their deep, personal connection with India meant a culturally rich and uniquely authentic experience of a lifetime. From this pure intention transpired something of a miracle. Group trips to me usually suggest cookie-cutter, tourist-trap itineraries. I avoid them. This was different.

12 others received and accepted a similar invite to India. From every corner of the world, all walks of life, a range of ages and experience, a community was formed. Although many of us were meeting for the first time (at least in this life) we quickly gelled. We got to know each other before the trip through intimate group experiences such as shared meditations. When we arrived in India we were already riding the same wave.

HOLD ON A MINUTE. This all sounds very magical and perfect, and it was, but I have to remind you, this is India. And on this authentic adventure, we experienced all of it. The allure and also the GRIT. It’s loud, busy, dusty, and dirty. Just imagine upping your squat game on a moving train! You’ll witness poverty at a level you may have never seen before. The cringe-worthy smells and WTF visuals may shock you. Yet India awakens our passion, pushes us out of complacency, and forces us to confront life, death and everything in between.

India’s soul is ancient and with that comes incredible power and beauty. Individual transformation and how each of us chooses to see the world is why the story of India can be told a million ways. For me, traveling through India was a story of coming home to myself and recharging for the next chapter of my life. I did connect with my inner guru, and she’s now shining brightly!