Well it’s been a while – hey?! I’m not really sure why it has been so long but I feel if I don’t write something soon I might never write again! Just kidding, but to say I’m staying in the “Writers Cottage” there hasn’t been a lot of blogging going on although I have been quietly writing away in my journal. So I thought I would at least write something quite short today to get the momentum going again. I’ve also been inspired by a post by Liz Gilbert who recommends writing for an hour a day whether you feel like it or not and even if you are in full swing to just write for an hour. So that is my plan to write for an hour a day and to publish more blogs. Let’s see because somehow life seems to have a habit of taking over even in lockdown!!!
My last post was 14th February so that’s over two months ago but to write about all that has happened since then feels a little overwhelming so rather than start at the beginning I’ll start at the end. I’ve kept notes throughout the last two months that I can share slowly over the coming days and weeks. I’m hoping now as I’ve said to get into a writing rhythm, we shall see……
So here I am in lockdown in a beautiful, idyllic forest retreat, in the foothills of the Himalayas, near Mussoorie in the North Indian state of Uttarakhand which borders with China and Nepal. I arrived here eight weeks ago intending to stay a week or so and then as things began to heat up with the virus I decided to just wait to see what happened and boy I’m so glad I did!
So let me tell you a little about this forest retreat called Aranyaka Upanishad that the Universe has so graciously brought me to. Anu, who describes herself as the caretaker of this little piece of paradise, was gifted the forest estate by her mother just over two years ago. It was a total surprise to her and it meant uprooting an academic life in Denmark to initially protect the forest from hungry money-making developers and then to constructing yoga halls, cottages and a forest school to share the forest with others. Anu’s personal story as well as that of her mother is extraordinary and I hope one day that she will share it more fully through a book that she is planning to write. Maybe I will share a few snippets in another blog – it really is an incredible inspiring story of love, dedication, vision, intrigue and passion, all the hallmarks that make a best selling book and a block buster movie!
We are a small community here of currently fifteen, Anu the guardian, myself and another UK national John, a family of four, a family of three and a family of five migrant workers who are currently constructing a new house for a nearby land owner and conservationist. There are three children aged 11, 9 and 7 and on a week day I spend an hour or so helping them with their school work or doing something creative. We have also walked together in the forest collecting firewood and done some PE with Joe Wicks. It’s a real joy to spend time with them especially when we are out in the forest, watching them run around and see their curiosity at even the smallest flower or piece of lichen.
Most days I go for a walk in the forest to get some exercise and to meditate and sometimes read. Anu has a great collection of books which she is very happy to share and I’m currently reading ‘The Reluctant Shaman’ which is fascinating. I have to say that I still prefer to have a paperback in my hands rather than read from a screen but when you are travelling you have to pack light so I’m grateful to have this time when I can hold a book again.
The other morning I went for a walk earlier than normal as I had a few things planned during the day and also it is beginning to get a bit hotter here now. Even at 9am when I was sat on the top of the hill in the sun meditating with Mooji the sun was quite intense. After some cold and wet weeks the weather now is wonderful and most of the time like a beautiful English summer’s day and I love sitting out on my veranda outside my cottage which is what I am doing as I write this blog.
Life moves at a slow pace here and seems to have slowed down further now in lockdown. I came here to the forest feeling the need to retreat after having spent two intense weeks travelling the cities of Rajasthan and then spending an amazing eight days in Rishikesh (I will share my experiences at some point!). I needed to let all that I had experienced settle and to digest what felt like a huge download of information and connections. What I didn’t expect is that that retreat would now be in its eighth week or that the whole world would join me!!!!
I like to let the days unfold and to just go with the flow and most days are full in a relaxed way. Spontaneity, simplicity and slowing down are my current mantras. I’m able to cook for myself which I enjoy and also means I can still have my English favourites of porridge and marmite 😊 and sometimes I eat with Anu and John. Anu cooks a mean Paratha amongst many other delicious dishes. We have also planted our own vegetables and some flowers over the last few weeks.
So all in all I feel very fortunate to have landed in this beautiful part of the world whilst we are all in lockdown. I’m safe, well, being quietly cared for and most of the time I’m happy so all is well in my world right now. More than ever we come to realise that taking each day at a time, each moment at a time is all that we can ever do and if you have the opportunity to slow down and reflect then accept and appreciate this precious time. There are countless different experiences of this lockdown and for some it means extreme hardship and I am hugely grateful to those who are doing their best to help those in need. Times such as these always brings out the best in humanity and added to that our amazing planet is getting to rest, restore and rejuvenate.
Sending the warmest of wishes to you and your loved ones wherever you are in the world and may we all stay safe, well and kind in these interesting times.
I posted these words by Jeff Foster on Facebook and it’s the most liked and shared post I’ve ever done so I thought I would share them here too. If you have the gift of being able to rest then treasure it. I appreciate though that there are many people especially those in the medical profession who are exhausted and I hope that they too can find some downtime to recharge and take care of themselves too.