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Why India: Fearless Living and Investing in Your Full Potential

 Me on my overnight train from Kerala to Goa. I shared my sleeper with a 26-year old filmmaker from Mumbai. We talked about feminism. He said I was a free bird.

"Why India?"

I had a difficult time answering this question when I first got the idea in my head to go to India. I had never traveled anywhere abroad previously and India isn't exactly the easiest travel experience in the books. Then everyone around me had their incessant cautions and concerns. It was rare that I found one of those kindred souls who responded with enthusiastic support: "Of course! Why the hell not? I'm so excited for you! You are going to have a great time!"  (Spoiler alert: These are the people you need to keep around.)

We live in a society where we have made living in fear a habit. When a friend tells us they are about to do something wild — take a leap of faith, quit their soul-sucking job, or travel to a third-world country — our first instinct is to caution them and feed them practicality. We remind them of their responsibilities, warn them of the things that could go awry, and suggest they take a smaller, less risky approach. We partially do it because we honestly care about them and don't want them to fail, get hurt or feel bad. But mostly we do it because we have subconsciously succumbed to our own fear story and when somebody we know steps off the path of fear, it gives us the permission to do the same. And that makes us uncomfortable.

The truth is most of us have been born into a storyline of fear. Whether it is illness, failure, rejection, abandonment or loss, we all have something that has significantly shaped our response to life. Over time, this response becomes habitual and we develop a limited sense of self, and as a result, a life we never intended. Without even being consciously aware, we limit our options, stifle our creativity, and restrict the creative vision of our own potential.

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It is often best to do the opposite of what fear is telling you to do.”
— Danielle LaPorte

After a cancer diagnosis at the age of 23, fear took a hold of my life in a way it had never before. Even months after treatment completed, I was still terrified of dying. Of getting sick again. Or still being sick and not knowing it. But this is what I have since learned: Cancer, illness, fear -- whatever your storyline is, whatever occurred in your life that keeps you stuck, anxious or afraid -- never comes into your experience as a means to paralyze you. Rather, it is there to teach you. To move you. To inspire you forward.

India was an opportunity for me to change the story. To have faith in myself, to relinquish my fear, to explore my relationship to the world and reclaim my purpose for being here. So I decided to do something that would completely shift my relationship to fear forever: I bought a plane ticket.

And how was India? It was mind-blowing, transformative, expansive, rich, intense, beautiful, heart-opening, liberating, crazy and utterly insane. I never felt threatened. I never felt unsafe. In fact, I've never felt more alive, confident in who I am, and connected to my surroundings. Don't get me wrong, it wasn't without its challenges or moments of feeling completely overwhelmed and disoriented. But it was always accompanied by that feeling of ease and assurance that I was lost in the right direction. 

 Walking to temple in Old Goa. The Hindu priest told me I would be married in eight months. He gave me his address and told me to write him when it came true.

That leap of faith in myself changed everything for me -- the way I relate to myself, to others, and the way I envision the unfolding of my life's purpose — and it continues to evolve for me to this day. I learned so much from my experience in India. I met some of the warmest and most inspiring people, sat in the most breathtaking scenery, and had my relationship to fear completely overturned. But if you were to ask me what the #1 thing I learned from this experience, it would be this:

I can do anything. And you can too.

This October, I am returning to India to lead the adventure of a lifetime and I would love to take you with me. We’ll travel to the awe-inspiring Taj Mahal, trek though Himalayan landscapes to stunning, snow-capped views, and soak up the ancient spiritual energy of Rishikesh — yoga capital of the world. There are endless options for travel excursions these days in every part of the world. So why take the journey in India? Well, there are countless reasons. But for simplicity, here are three:

1). BECAUSE INDIA'S ENERGY IS LIKE NO OTHER PLACE IN THE WORLD.

Demystifying India is a perpetual work-in-progress and for many travelers that's precisely what makes her so incredibly addictive. I've met so many world travelers who return to India every year (including myself) simply for the way the country makes them feel and the person they become while in her land. India is one of the world's most multidimensional countries, offering a beautifully diverse spectrum of travel encounters. But perhaps the one thing that best describes this extraordinary country is its ability to inspire, frustrate, thrill and confound all at once.

2). BECAUSE YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL INFINITE POTENTIAL. START LIVING LIKE IT.

It is easy to let the obligations, bills and due dates of daily life cloud the very real and easy choice to break out of the mold and invest wildly in yourself and most precious dreams. India is a country where anything is possible and it very quickly uncovers the unconscious list of should's, doubts and fears in our lives as the illusions they truly are. The truth is you can manifest a life that makes you feel alive in every moment. The symphony of sights, sounds, tastes and smells in India will jostle your being and awaken resources within you that you didn't know you had. Something about the energy of this country allows for a freedom to emerge into the fullness of who you are and what you want out of life.

3). IT WILL CHANGE EVERYTHING. AND YOUR SOUVENIRS WILL LAST FOREVER.

India will completely shift the way you see yourself and the rest of humanity. And it will continue to show up and evolve in your day-to-day relationships and in the nature of your self-talk. You will see opportunities and life-giving potential everywhere. Yes, you'll come home with a sweet sarong, some incense, and perhaps a henna tattoo. But more importantly, you'll come home with a new definition of peace, greater faith in yourself and a bigger vision for your potential and capacity to achieve.

 Sweetest little girl. She found me in the markets looking a henna. She took my hand and walked me down the road to her shop. Best sales lady in Goa.

I cordially invite you to take a leap of faith in yourself on the path of fearless living. I invite you to invest yourself only into people, places, and things that make you come alive and affirm your deep worth and potential. Whether that is coming to India, quitting a job, or ending a toxic relationship, I would love to be of support to your endeavors. For more information on my next tour to India, click here. I'd honored to be your guide on a beautiful journey of rich culture, deep spirituality, and limitless possibility.

Bright faith goes beyond merely claiming possibility for oneself to immersing oneself in it. The enthusiasm, energy and courage we need in order to leave the safe path, to stop aligning ourselves with the familiar or the convenient, arises with bright faith. It enables us to step out, step away, and see what we can make of our lives. With bright faith we act on our potential to transform our suffering and live in a different way.
— Sharon Salzberg, Faith: Trusting Your Own Deepest Experience

Yours on the journey,

Jessica

 

 

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SOFT.

About a week ago, I was at the Basho huts visiting my friend Lyn and I met this Indian man named Kishore. He had a few beers in him and was making everyone laugh with his impersonations of the bullshit gurus here in Arambol. Later on, he overheard me tell Lyn that I was looking for a reputable place for an Ayurvedic treatment in Goa and he offered to take me to one in Mandrem later that afternoon. I thought about it over a long swim and, still suspicious of his intentions, decided to go along. And so I rode, side saddle on the back of his bike, along the palm trees and chaotic roads, reveling in the freshness of trust in a complete stranger.

He waited on the beach for me during my hour-long treatment and then we went and had lassies on the deck of one of the restaurants nearby. We talked about everything, and it was the first time that I really felt understood by anyone native to this country. Indians are beautiful with words and have a keen ability to paint life in the most profound simplicity. I wish I could have tape-recorded every word that fell from his mouth. Our conversation was not only nourishing because he understood my words, but he spoke my language on a level that I rarely find even in America. Everything that makes my heart sing is native to his land, flesh, and upbringing and we connected on a hidden plane of mutual understanding and inspiration.

We traveled on and had some dinner in the attic of another local restaurant and continued to chat over vegetable briyani, paneer, yellow dhal and tulsi tea. We talked about Tantra, Tai Chi, Ayurveda, alkaline foods, our families, trials, joys and the path that infuses them all: meditation. For him, everything was meditation. "Why be a follower of Christ, Brahma or Buddha, when you can become them?"  ... "My sweet, there is no need to know your future when you live with awareness." 

Kishore has been the most enlightening and transformative witness to my journey here in India thus far. He has helped me grow warm to a culture that I initially found petrifying. When I first arrived here, I was vigilant with all my self-protective strategies, constantly alternating the application of sunblock and bug repellant, using antibacterial wipes every time I touched something, inspecting every ounce of food thoroughly before I put it in my mouth. Through my time spent with Kishore, I have melted and slowly fallen in love with the charming little ways this country seems to mock any preconceived notion one has of the world. I have found myself romanced by the madness of it all.

Kishore has taught me a lot about meditation since we've met. One day, after introducing me to my new favorite meal here, warm okra salad with lemon and mint, we walked down along the shore. He told me to close my eyes and he led me, by faith and trust, as we walked from Arambol Beach back to Mandrem. I watched the sun set through my closed eyes, wrapped in the gentle evening wind, and felt warmth and light from outside and within. I felt safe, held, and one with my surroundings. I felt an opening emerge from within me. Finally, I wasn't interrogating the moment to fork over its intentions. I was simply allowing it to fall naturally on my skin and guide the way.

He tells me I have softness unlike other American women. I tell him he doesn't know me. He insists. "Your energy is too sweet to be American. Americans, they are always running behind money. And they get sick because they have everything... You are different. You are an Indian, my sweet." 

Since this conversation, I have been thinking about the consequences of allowing myself to embrace this softness. It is an interesting exploration; to reevaluate myself within the culture of feminine essence in India. In America, I find a strong inner resistance to express feminine qualities because, in our culture, stepping into our femininity means to step into a secondary role. It often involves being weak, small and obscure. In India, it is strength and power. It is compassion, creativity and resilience. A strong reverence for the feminine energy is integrated into the daily life and worldview. But there is also a strong fear. "In India, the men know that the women are more powerful. That is why they put so many rules on them," said the young Indian filmmaker I shared a sleeper with on my train to Goa.

In the constant exposure to goddess imagery and aura, I feel safe and inspired to set down internal chains and inhibition and explore what it means for me to become soft. To exude grace, ease, and calm abidance without feeling it deprecate my sense of power, voice, and strength. As a Tantra devotee, Kishore speaks the language of Shiva and Shakti quite fluently. He speaks of my feminine energy and the power I can evoke.

"You are Lakshmi, Saraswati and Shakti all in one."

I am starting to believe him.

In light and love,

Jessica

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