My quest for awakening and discovery has taken me all over the world, and consequently, my travels have shown me so much of myself.
Since I began traveling I have lived with Peruvian, Costa Rican and Ecuadorian families in intimate villages working on farms and doing community service. I have visited my friends in the Canary Islands and lived on a boat in the French Caribbean. I have become extremely proficient in the Spanish language and studied in Spain, Italy, Portugal and France at very old universities in older cities. I have explored my cultural roots and spent time with family in Grecian villages where my grandparents grew up. All of these experiences and more (both domestic and international) have ignited my heart, opened my mind and expanded my awareness.
Most recently I made a pilgrimage to India for three months to be with my spiritual teacher and visit sacred sights around the country. Arriving in India can feel more like landing on another planet than landing in another country. It is a magnificent country with diverse cultural, spiritual and lifestyle practices. I was fortunate enough to visit one of the oldest cities in the world, Varanasi, also called Benares or Kashi, and visit ancient temples, witness ceremonial public cremations along the shores of the sacred Ganga and walk the bustling, crowded streets where cows and motorcycles compete for space with barefoot pedestrians. Bodhgaya, the home of the Bodhi tree, one of the four most sacred pilgrimage sights for Buddhists world-world, instilled in me a feeling of unshakable reverence and peace.
The energetic field created by thousands of monks and pilgrims practicing meditation and prayer from morning until night was potent beyond words. The majority of my time was spent in meditation and stillness in Rishikesh with my sangha (spiritual community) and my guru (dispeller of darkness), along the shores of the Ganga where sadhus and monks have come for intensive spiritual practice for countless millennia. I also got to spend time traveling Nepal for a couple weeks with my Nepalese friend and live for a week in the beautiful, remote village where some of his family lives. Oh, what a blessed trip it was.
I am extremely grateful for these experiences and the financial means that has made them possible for me, because most people around the world are simply unable travel outside of their communities due to lack of funds and other reasons. In some way, it is a great misfortune that folks from colonial countries of the world (ie. “The Global North”), that are largely responsible for creating and perpetuating cultural, economic, sociopolitical, environmental, and ecological distress and inequality, are the ones that are most able to travel to foreign places. It is with great responsibility and integrity that we must board these airplanes and step onto foreign soil. If we abuse this privilege we are in essence contributing to global systemic issues of inequality, injustice, violence and under-representation. This reality MUST be kept in mind.