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Chapter Five | Follow Your Heart

Should I stay or should I go?

I should be in Nepal right now, nearly en route to Bali for my yoga teacher training. Instead I am in Rishikesh, India, and I’m about to tell you how and perhaps why I am still here, when the whole world is going crazy and into lockdown because of a certain virus. I had it all planned out, right, but then bit by bit, higher forces interfered with my well thought out plan. Everyone is being affected by the current situation, there’s no doubt about it. For me, the first thing that got ‘cancelled’ was the week in Nepal, I had planned with some amazing women who were with me on my 2 week tour of India. With the virus spreading, Nepal cancelled visas for certain nationalities, including mine, so that went out of the window. Then I thought, ok, I’ll just head straight to Bali when this India trip officially ends on the 17th March and I shall wait there until the start of April to do my training with Zuna Yoga in Bali. Once the decision was made, I tried to book a flight from Delhi to Bali FOUR times in one day. Every time there was a different “issue”. Credit card transaction approval pin not coming through because I’m using an Indian SIM at the moment, switched the SIM back to UK number, approval pin still not coming through in time to complete the transaction, weak connection, website not responding, you name it. So I thought ok, clearly I’m not meant to be on this particular flight, so I left it. One or two days later, I get an email from Zuna Yoga, advising the training has been cancelled. And breathe. So I ask my connections on Instagram if they can recommend any yoga schools in Rishikesh, there are sooo many here that I figured a recommendation would come in handy. And thank you to my teachers who have indeed given me some advice. Off I go and check them all out and contact them to see if their planned April trainings are going ahead as intended. No surprise, they all came back saying the training is postponed until May or later or just cancelled. One of the recommendations came back saying they are doing a training from 20th April. So I think, ok, that could work. But meanwhile, my first attempt at having my visa extended got denied. I’m staying in a hotel in town, but have plans to check into an ashram the next day for a 7 day programme. Part of me is still wondering what to do, so I ask one of my closest friends back home to do a card reading for me to help me figure out whether to stay or leave. She comes back with a crystal clear message that said: stay in India. There’s still opportunity to do what you came to do and the people you are meeting along the way are great for your heart and your inner child. And I know this is the truth. In the morning, after a cold night of not great sleep, I’m still undecided. And the universe sends me another little message in form of a comment from a fellow traveller over breakfast, saying: just make sure you listen to your heart and don’t fall into the fearful mind thinking. And I say thank you and I pack up at the Divine Ganga Cottages and head to Phool Chatti Ashram, just a bit out of Rishikesh. I wanted to experience ashram life, a la Eat. Pray. Love. (Not cliche at all ha ha), but also thought that gives me another week to figure stuff out. Then on the second day in the Ashram, I get an official UK government email saying anyone currently in India is advised to get out asap because they anticipate that the number of available flights will decrease dramatically in the near future. And this is when the fear and panic REALLY takes over! And man did it hit me!

I start looking at flights to get back to the UK ASAP and after initial despair (Skyscanner showing flights are available with Air France, but when I go to the Air France website, there are no flights from Delhi...) and more fear, with the help of a close friend, I find that Emirates are still flying and they have waived any change fees should plans change. So late in the evening on the 19th I book a flight with Emirates on for the morning of Sunday, 22nd. And I also book a flight from Dehradun to Delhi for the evening of the 21st with local airline SpiceJet. I go through the whole process including completing the payment with my TransferWise card and I can see the transaction on my account. And I relax a little and think, ok, I’ll get back to Edinburgh in a few days and will take it from there and I go to sleep. The next morning, I realise that it would have made more sense to book directly to Edinburgh rather than Stansted and I go on to ‘manage my booking’ and get a message saying ‘this flight has been suspended’ - are you kidding me? Later that day an email comes through advising it’s cancelled. Meanwhile, the SpiceJet booking never went through either as they send me a reminder to complete my booking. And breathe. Now what? After lunch I get ready to call Emirates to find out when the next flight will be, as meanwhile I realise that all flights from 22nd are cancelled. Now, I feel a mixture of panic/fear, but surrender at the same time. And as I sit there with my phone ready to go, I start chatting to my lovely ashram neighbour, another German girl, about the whole situation and we laugh and joke and talk about how perhaps it’s meant to be. She tells me about her two previous weeks in Rishikesh and how she just went with the flow and ended up learning Reiki 1 from a women she kept bumping into in the streets and we talk about Astrology and star signs and destiny. And she pulls out her pendulum and asks it whether I should stay in India. The answer, another clear YES. First the Bali flight booking did not work, then the Emirates & SpiceJet flights didn’t book or got cancelled, the cards saying “stay”, the pendulum saying “stay” and listening to my heart, I can hear it saying “stay”. Call me crazy, but perhaps I’m simply not meant to leave India just yet. So I surrender and accept and focus on the here and now and fully immerse myself in the daily ashram programme. On day 4, we start in the morning with a mantra meditation, using our malas, and meditate with “I am open to receive guidance”. After breakfast, we head down to the shores of Mother Ganga, the holy river, for a ritual bathing. We chant, we make an offering, and we dip into the cold, refreshing waters and I ask her to “wash away fear and guide me”. And I pray and I focus on gratitude and I open my heart. Bliss. I head back to the ashram and a little later start flicking through photos I took while wandering through Rishikesh just days earlier. And there is a photo I snapped of a yoga school just as I walked past it. I don’t know what made me stop and take that picture, there wasn’t a logical reason why I photographed this sign, but not all the others dotted around. So I email them and ask if their planned training in April is still going ahead and they reply within a couple of ours and it’s a big fat YESSSS. Wow. Thank you!!! I look into it and not only is their training going ahead on the 2nd April, but it’s an excellent school that’s highly rated as well. Thank you thank you thank you. So I make plans to leave the ashram after the one week programme and check-in at the yoga school in two days on the 24th March. TO BE CONTINUED

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