After the long drive from Sydney, arriving at the Krishna Village and Eco Farm, we found ourselves in an open courtyard with a number of others about to have lunch. They were singing, clapping and smiling. Both Oscar and I looked at each other and I could tell what he was thinking, ‘Oh my god, what is this’. And I honestly wanted to get back in the car and leave immediately. To say we felt uncomfortable….
We settled into our room, which is a converted shipping container divided into 3 small cabins. At dinner time, we walked up the long hill to the temple. We sat on the floor and they sang again. Our food was dished up from huge red plastic buckets, which Oscar fondly called ‘chum buckets’. I felt sick. I was way out of my comfort zone. What they served that night was pasta and desserts. Oscar was happy, me, not so much. What have I got us into? This is not what I expected! From speaking with others, it’s not unusual to feel overwhelmed as many had experienced this.
It’s off to work we go
We were awake at 5.45am to start our work day at 6.15am. It was a day of back breaking farming. The sun was beating down on us. Oscar was tired, I was tired. We were literally counting down the hours until we were done. This is not what Karma Yoga is, where one is of service to others, joyfully and mindfully. I knew then, that I could not expect Oscar (or myself) to work like this on our holiday, so I made the decision to change our booking to a retreat only.
Food, glorious food
The first night at the temple must’ve been unusual, because the meals were amazing. Feasts of curries and vegetables. The food is blessed at the temple, by offering it to Krishna before we are served. There’s something magical about this food. Nourishing, wholesome.
The things I learnt:
- Connection. We are so disconnected in the modern world. Not just with people, but deep connection with ourselves and with nature. When last did you spend time with yourself, without the distraction of social media and technology? It’s hard at first, feeling out of touch, feeling as if you’re missing out, feeling bored, irritated almost. I had nowhere to turn to, no distracting myself from thoughts, feelings or emotions. And that was my lesson.
- It’s ok to feel bored, it’s ok to have nothing to do. I had nowhere else I needed to be but here. In this garden, with the sounds of birds, crickets and frogs.
- I didn’t eat meat for 2 weeks and I have not missed it at all. We walked past cows, grazing in the field every meal time and I felt sick thinking, about the animals I have consumed without much regard, that they were living creatures. Using the excuses of ‘but cows are there to be eaten, or we need to eat meat’, just doesn’t cut it for me. I am not sure I can eat meat again, but that’s another topic altogether.
- Being too rigid about a decision that you’ve made or stuck on principles, can cause conflict. I did not know what to do about working and ‘giving back’ to the community, when I realised, it wasn’t as cruisey as I’d been told. I could’ve either stuck with my decision, because, ‘it’s the right thing to do’ OR I could change my mind. When I decided that we needed a holiday more than we needed to work, I felt immense relief.
- Once I softened and opened up to community living, I began to make friends, real connections that I will continue to nurture.
- Being around people who are sober, confirmed just how toxic alcohol and drugs can be and how they ruin real connection. There’s a different energy to people who look after themselves and don’t consume these substances.
- Everything that I expected the holiday to be, was nothing like it ended up being (luckily it was even better). Expectations can ruin moments. Because they don’t fit in to our ‘ideas’ of how it ‘should’ be. Going with the flow is far easier in the long run.
- Sometimes, facing a fear, like swimming in a murky river, means you get to enjoy an adventure (and you get to cool down, bonus).
- I have fallen even more deeply in love with Yoga. Because it strengthens and creates flexibility in the body and mind and I will continue with daily asanas.
The past 2 weeks has been such an emotional, spiritual and challenging experience. I am so grateful I got to enjoy it with Oscar. He was such a brilliant and supportive companion. And it will be a gift that lasts longer than any present we could’ve exchanged.