Lessons from Mother India

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Those were the first words I wrote in my diary on landing in India
and they stood me in good stead for the whole 12-day trip.

Be here now and marvel at the beauty of the Himalayas.
Be here now and observe your thoughts as they crash through your mind at a million miles an hour as you keep your voice silent.
Be here now with the some of the best tasting food you’ve ever had.
Be here now as your body responds not too kindly to something you’ve eaten.
Be here now as the words wash over and through you as a Buddhist master leads a meditation.
Be here now as you see how people eek out jobs in the smallest of spaces and the simplest of ways.

Be here now as you look inward, outward and learn more about yourself.
Be here now as you connect to you and your deeper knowing.



The sign that welcomed me each time I entered the meditation hall
on our retreat at Dharmalaya Institute was the perfect reminder.


It’s taken me a while to process all that I saw, experienced and learned on my 12 days in India. Yet the lasting memories are of mountains that opened my heart and silence that connected my soul. I learned things I knew before but in Mother India I saw them in different ways.

What is the hurry?

I watched the workers at Dharmalaya Institute walk back and forward tens of times a day carrying a single rock on their shoulder at each pass and I felt the rhythm and pace that came with a sense of ease. The new building they are working on may take years to finish, yet in the West we need buildings to be completed tomorrow, or better yet yesterday.

Time is money, money is time.

And I know for a number of reasons this is true in the West but it really made me notice how much of a hurry I am in. There is a rush to most of the things I do. There’s a deadline to meet, an item to be ticked off a made-up list, an urgency to send this email NOW or catch-up with that person as soon as I can.

Yet the beauty of the buildings at the Dharmalaya Institute reminded me that beautiful things can be built without the hurry. And you could almost feel the love pouring from the walls that had been made without the rush of “getting it done”.



Do everything TODAY with compassion

I’m a planner, a futurist – and there is always something to think about, whether a life changing adventure to plan for or just what do I need to buy from the supermarket for dinner. And I’ve started to realise that at some level I’m looking for the pay-off – Will it be worth my time? What will I get out of this? What is my return on investment? I want every action to have a reason, a purpose, a certainty that it will be “worth it”.

Yet you can’t know what tomorrow will bring. Due to sickness, politics, the environment or some other unforetold reason this beautiful retreat that has been built with love may not exist tomorrow. In my eyes that would be a terrible tragedy. Yet as Mai-Linh, one of the founders of Dharmalaya, noted, if are doing your actions today with love and compassion, then it doesn’t matter what tomorrow will bring.

So what if we did everything today because we wanted to. No matter whether it brought in more money, was worth the effort in a years time or a months time – what if we just did it will all our heart and love TODAY. That is something I am really trying to integrate into my life – doing my actions with care and attention today because I want to. Performing my actions with awareness to make this moment more beautiful, fruitful and enjoyable.


Mindful Engagement



You know that wonderful meal someone had yesterday? Well it’s not on the menu in this part of the country or in this small cafe, so choose from what is in front of you today. All the wishes and wants in the world won’t allow for that meal or feeling to reappear. So let it go.

The more we focus on something, the tighter we hold onto it, the greater agony we actually make for ourselves and we miss out on the wonderful stuff that is happening now. Thoughts, people, places, discomfort, food, ideas, pain – they come and go if we let them. Rather than choosing to hold on with all your might and wish you could have what you had yesterday, enjoy where you are today.


Which all leads to the same thing:


You can’t know what the future will bring, so do all your actions today with awareness and love.
Yesterday has been and gone and no matter how much you dwell on it, you can’t change what happened.

So be here now.

Be here with love and compassion.
Be here with presence and awareness.
Be here with all your senses.



Thank you to Mother India for reminding me of these gifts.
Thank you to Leigh for being a fantastic friend and guide and taking me on this fabulous experience.
And thank you to the wonderful Mark and Mai-Linh whose love and vision brought the Dharmalaya Institute to life.



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