Leaving for India

A look back from my trip to India back in June of 2012!

I’m leaving for India tomorrow.  I still get shocked whenever I hear myself telling someone. When I mention the trip to people, I often get a  funny feeling in the back of my throat, like someone is tickling me.  My eyes often water in response, and this has left me thinking.  Do I still want to go?  Am I crazy for going to India alone? (I’ve never even been out of the country)  Is it ridiculous to take off and chase this dream?  This has been a dream of mine for years, but now that it is here, it is just as dreamlike as ever.  I won’t believe that it is real until I step off the plane at 4 a.m. in Thiruvananthapuram, India on Wednesday.  I have imagined that moment a couple of times and I am very curious to see what really happens when I step into the night air of the land I’ve always wanted to experience. Will I weep, will I laugh hysterically?  I’m really not sure.

All journeys have secret destinations of which the traveler is unaware.

The whole “not knowing” is part of the beauty of this trip.  I really have NO idea what to expect. Here is what I do know:  I’ll be going to Kerala, India for a 2 week program of ayurvedic immersion, to learn holistic medicine. Kerala, named one of the 10 most beautiful places in the world by NationalGeographic, is the southern tip of India and it is monsoon season. There will be one other participant (I hear she is from New York) and we will be led by Niika, an amazing woman from New Jersey.  Niika started Ayurveda Trip and Rasa Ayurveda after discovering this ancient healing art during a trip to India when she was 19.

“Dividing her time between East and West, Niika Quistgard is American by heritage, but proud to be an adopted child of India, too. A certified Clinical Ayurvedic Specialist, Niika has 13 years experience practicing, teaching and writing on Ayurveda–yoga’s sister-science of healing, happiness and vital longevity.” (taken from AyurvedaTrip.com)

Ayurveda is the traditional medicine of India, which originated there over 5,000 years ago. It is the first “medical system” in the world. Ayurveda emphasizes re-establishing balance in the body through diet, lifestyle, exercise, and body cleansing. While I am in India, I will be connecting with the spiritual culture of South India, and gaining a deeper understanding of my personal dharma of healing, receiving traditional Ayurvedic therapies so every person I work with can experience their own wholeness, taking hands-on courses in medicinal-oil and kizhi making, with medicinal plant identification and study and participating in sustaining living Ayurveda and her native plant medicine by connecting with Malayalee women and girls through The Muthashi Project to promote continued traditional medicine-making and therapies in local communities.

I’ve been obsessed with India for years: reading Indian novels, watching Indian movies, eating Indian foods, taking Indian dance classes.  Now that I am actually going to India, alone, I am anxious, excited, happy and overwhelmed. I am mostly grateful that I get to go on this adventure. I discovered this opportunity while reading a magazine for massage professionals.  There was a one sentence mention of Ayurveda Trip in an article I was reading. I was lying next to my daughter Tess as she slept and felt compelled to get out of bed to read more.  I got my cell phone and got back in bed to look up the program online.  After reading for about 5 minutes, I began to cry.  I knew in my heart that I was finally going to India. It was more overwhelming than anything else. I just KNEW that this was going to happen.  How I would save enough money, leave my business and most of all, be away from Tess for that long were all part of those tears.  I ended up staying up all night long – thinking, dreaming, crying and wishing, holding Tess as tight as I could.

I am going to India to bring back wonderful Ayurvedic techniques for my clients at staceyO studiO – Massage & Esthetics.  I am going to India to show my daughter that we can do anything we set our minds to and we can make dreams come true (even if our dreams make us hurt a little in the meanwhile, they are worth it).  I am also going to India to be still.  Anyone that knows me knows that I’ve had a a lot of big things happen in the past 10 years of my life.  A lot of triumphs, a good bit of tragedy, and every other emotion you can imagine sprinkled in there too.  Stillness and quiet are not a part of my life, at all.  I’m ready to be still for a little while so I can hear the answer to some questions I’ve been too loud to hear.

I know being away from Tess is going to be hard.  I also know that this trip is not going to be the standard stacey O adventure, where I will go and do wild and crazy things and come back happy and exhausted and jump back into work. There is something more to this adventure, something even better.  I think growth is going to be a big part of it. Growth is good, not always easy, but always good.

I just realized what that tickle in the back of my throat is.  The one that makes my eyes water when I talk about my trip.  It is joy, sneaky and subtle, but joy just the same.