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  • Writer's pictureJo Langhorne

My lessons from India

A friend sent me a message when I returned from India saying she hoped by comeback to reality hadn’t been too brutal.

A friend sent me a message when I returned from India saying she hoped by comeback to reality hadn’t been too brutal.

The first image I had was of being hit to the back of the head with a blunt stick. Bit harsh? Maybe, but there is an element of truth to that. I’m always excited to come home to see family and this time my little puppy, but there is something about returning from India that is particularly challenging and I find integrating back into our way of life very difficult.

I have a very blessed life. I’m well, have a lovely family, amazing friends and a very comfortable lifestyle. So, there is nothing difficult about coming home to that. In fact travelling in India makes me very grateful for my quality of life.

It’s more about what you leave behind.

My first image is colour. India has a vibrancy that is hard to explain, you must experience it. There is colour everywhere from clothing to markets, to brightly painted trucks with tassels to the wares for sale in every shop and market stall. It surrounds you. It knows no status or boundaries and you are overwhelmed and captivated by it all at once. When I return something happens to my senses as I notice the more muted palette of Australia. Don’t get me wrong, Australia has the most exquisite colours in it’s landscapes but there is a something about our everyday life, our clothing, our shops that is a little lacking in colour.

Then there is the buzz, the people and the beautiful chaos of India. Being a place with 1.3 billion people certainly packs a punch and I find it takes me a few days and sometimes weeks to settle back into the slower pace of home and the lack of contact with people.

Then there is the deep feeling of spirituality that I experience in India. Hinduism for example is not just a religion in fact you would be amiss to call it a religion. It is a way of life, of being and it is integrated into everything they do from their way of life, celebrations, rituals, marriage and family structure.

Last year I wrote a series of blogs after my return from India about the lessons I’d learned whilst travelling. This year I decided to write about the lessons I learned about myself. This year’s journey was different for me in many ways with some new challenges to face and so many lessons learned. Some I didn’t necessarily want to learn and others I must learn if I’m going to keep running these trips, but for the most part India gives you great gifts and travelling in a group of beautiful women delivers the rest.

Here’s my introspective journey of my time in India.

My body is stronger than I realise and combined with the power of my mind, anything is possible. However, what I’ve learned is that there are limits and you can keep going for as long as you need to but there will be a consequence for doing so. When I left for India I was 4 weeks into the recovery of my ankle injuries. Yes plural, I had injured the ligaments in both ankles after a tumble at home. Walking down one simple step I fell, immediately panic stricken about India and whether I had broken my ankles. Turns out a break would have healed faster than the ligament damage I have sustained, because here I am 2.5 months on and still struggling with bandaged ankles and weekly physio. When I boarded that plane I wasn’t fit. I was tired, in pain and the word that most comes to mind is depleted. But these trips are like my newborn babies and as most of you know nothing comes between a Mumma and her cub. I was going, in plaster, in bandages in a wheelchair if I had to, but I was going. There was no option for me, no other choice. I wanted to be there, I had worked for almost a year on this trip and nothing was going to stop me bringing my vision to fruition. So, each day I woke up, I stretched, did the exercises designed by the physio, strapped my ankles and off I went. The group of women were very supportive, understood when I couldn’t do steep climbs or loads of stairs and our wonderful guide even turned up with a giant walking stick for me. At the end of each day I would take my ice pack out off the mini bar, order more ice from housekeeping and get those feet elevated. The following day, repeat. I even had the good sense to take a woman on the trip who is a brilliant massage therapist, not that I knew I would be needing that when she booked.

I managed, and although it was challenging physically, I was lifted by the experiences, energy and connection of the women on the trip. Being in the company of these women was the best medicine I could have asked for. There is something about the healing power of women. But life is a balance and my mind knew I needed to get through the 12 nights and it didn’t allow my body to let me down. That was saved for the return. Within 3 days of arriving home to the safety and security of my home and family, I crashed. Sinus infection,13-hour migraine headaches and a resurgence of swelling in the ankles. But I will take it, for I am so grateful that I made it through and if I had to pay a price I was happy to do that on home soil. It just goes to show you though what the body can endure, whilst at the same time teaching me the valuable lesson that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. I’m my mid 40’s now and it has taken me this long to see that the body responds to how we treat it. I’m grateful to finally understand this and I can feel a shift since my return. I’ve worked very hard the last 12 months and I haven’t given my wellbeing the priority I can teach others to do. Sleep, good food and movement are a priority in my life right now.

The power of women.

I’m often asked if I will take men on these trips in the future. I don’t have to even think about that because I know my work and my vision is to travel with women. I know we are always hearing it is a man’s world but, in my experience, nothing is more fun, energetic, creative and inspiring than being with a group of women. I’m not sure if it is the destination that attracts the right women, or the theme and intention of the trips. One participant said it was me that attracted the right people, but I can’t really come at that. Perhaps it is the combination. I have a very clear intention for these trips, that women will take time out for themselves, to travel to a place they have never been before and learn something new about themselves through the experience of travelling.

Pretty clear right?

With each group I set a clear vision and put it out there to the universe.

That the women will connect, share and embrace the experience. Again, it’s simple and so far, it’s happened every time.

Then there is the style of the trip and the experiences we enjoy. These are designed to bring women together, to stimulate all their senses and emotions and connect them to other women in India. Again, a clear brief for all my trips.

But sitting over all of this like an umbrella is India. The most incredible country I have ever travelled to. It has become my new love, yet it feels as familiar to me as an old friend.

This combination brings the women, sets the intention and creates the most incredible energy that I just can’t explain. With each new trip I pray it will work and then they all just turn up, connect and we are on our way. There are always plenty of giggles, floods of unexpected tears and new friendships formed within the very first days. Incredible to observe and an honour to be a part of.

One woman described it as having a second childhood, full of delight, laughter and new friends.

Another thanked the women for being like the maple trees she saw in her meditation, that protected her as she walked into her unknown future. I mean really, could there be anything more beautiful? I will remember that feeling for the rest of my life and have to say it was one of my proudest moments. To create an experience for someone where this is how they felt, that is my life purpose right there in that one beautiful statement.

Yet again the healing power of women and their innate ability to share, care and love one another, no matter how long they have known each other. This is what I want to fill my life with, this type of experience. Not these shitty shows on television where women rip each other’s eyes out to fight for some rose from a man they only just met. Real and true connection is something I thrive on and will strive to create in all the work I do.

More is not always better.

My first trip to India was a slower pace than the last. This one was jam packed of experiences and I learnt very quickly that I was pushing them just a little too fast. A great reminder to me that less is sometimes more, and that people need time to integrate what they experience and make sense of it before rushing on to the next thing.

For me I also learnt that maybe what I’m doing is enough. There is always a part of me that sets a goal, achieves it and then looks for ways to enhance it or build upon it. As a result, I have had all these ideas about where I can run future trips yet for now all I really want to do is more trips to India. As one participant said to me “why does it have to be anywhere else, maybe it’s just India”. Maybe there will be a time when I want to explore new places. I know Africa is on the horizon and places such as Bhutan, but right now my heart is in India and this is what I want to share with the women that want to come.

Build on what you love, what you know, what inspires you. Yes, look for new ideas and be open to creativity but learn to be content with what is going on around you because when we spend so much time looking forward we miss the moment and the experiences that are happening right in front of us.

Finally, for me, I learned how much I love a project.

I’m a person who has an idea, works out the plan to achieve the idea. Then the plan is executed, evaluated and then it’s done. And that’s when I crash, that’s when I feel flat and a little directionless. Consequently, I’ve decided I need to add a step here. I need to celebrate and enjoy the moment at the completion of the project. Changing the wording here is key. It’s not the end, it’s the completion of that project. It’s not the end, it’s time for rest so that you can rebuild and continue with another project when the time is right.

For a moment there when I returned I felt lost. I sat on my bed one night and just cried. It was over, I was tired, did I have the energy to do this all again? Then, the next morning one of the group members sent an email to the entire group thanking them for the experience. Describing how it was life changing and a wonderful unexpected experience. And there is was, the lift and affirmation that I am on the right path. Now with time and hindsight I can see that what I really needed was rest and recovery so when the time was right, I could get started on the next trip.

The time is now right.

As I write I’m currently putting together two trips to India for next year.

March 2019 will see an enhanced Soulful India, travelling to all those places a first timer to India wants to experience. Delhi, Taj Mahal, Rajasthan, Varanasi and Mumbai.

October 2019 I’m working on an itinerary for those that have been before. Think Tigers, Tea plantations, Temples and Treatments (Ayurvedic spa treatments that is)

Life is all learning, and for me I learnt more on these 12 days about myself and my vision than I could have in any business planning session or seminar. We can be hard on ourselves and expect more and more all the time. Well I can anyway. If it works and you love it why does it have to be grander, bigger or more? I’m learning still everyday to be proud of myself, to notice my accomplishments and align to what I love.

I have 12 wonderful souls to thank for that.

You know who you are.

Love and light.



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