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.

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 last October. I had never traveled anywhere abroad previously and India isn't exactly the easiest travel experience in the books. Then people had their incessant cautions and concerns: "You are going to be there alone?  Don't you know human trafficking is real? What if you get some crazy Indian disease and no doctor can understand you? You are going there for how long? What about your job? Are you out of your damn mind?"

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.

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, disoriented and lost. 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.

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.

There was absolutely nothing that could have prepared me for those first few moments in India. Walking out of that airport at 4:00am into a mob of hundreds of Indians, taxis honking, incense burning -- the intensity as palpable as the heat on your skin. It was a complete assault on all of my senses and the way I understood the world up until that moment. I started hearing those cautious voices from back home: Maybe I am in over my head. Maybe I was out of my mind to do this.

But the next day, after some much-needed rest, I was sitting on my sea-facing balcony along the coast of Kerala, listening to the soothing waves of the Arabian Sea, watching the lighthouse beam pass by. I felt expansive, light and grateful to have taken a leap to understand myself and the world differently. Here I was, a woman, who at the age of 26, went out on a whim and flew across the world -- out of my element but completely at peace. 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 February, I am returning to India to lead a yoga retreat so I can help others experience this same truth. And I would love to take you with me. There will be twice-daily yoga and meditation, colorful organic vegetarian meals and beautiful accommodations set in a lush retreat center along the shores of the Arabian Sea. But more important than our practice of yoga, more rich than the new friendships you'll make, is the inspiring backdrop this all unfolds in. There are endless options for yoga retreats 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 met so many world travelers who return to India every year 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.

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. I encourage you to write me and share your thoughts and vision. Let's start a conversation.

For more information on The Power of Intention: Yoga Retreat to Goa, India, please visit my India Retreat page. I am offering an early-bird discount for participants who register before the end of July. I am honored to be your guide into 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 Roodvoets

 

 

1 Comment