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Sweet friend ~

I have been dreading this post.

Words. What are words? How can one put such a profound experience into mere words?

Yet I feel that if I do not write about this, the memories and moments that live in my heart may fade; and the ocean of love that I am currently swimming in may begin to dry up. This, to me, is my worst fear…to dry up even one drop.

So I will do my best.

I just spent 36 days in Rajasthan, India. I attended a 4-week Odissi Classical Dance & Yoga Intensive with my beloved dance guru, Colleena Shakti, at her Shakti School of Dance in the holy town of Pushkar.

I left on December 31 with much excitement, nervousness, fear, and hope. I returned on February 6 with more gratitude, love and longing that this body has ever held. Yes, longing.

During my time in Pushkar I experienced nurturing on the deepest level. Divine Mother was ever present…in the women and men that surrounded me…in the school, in our hotel, in the beautiful city I called “home” for one month.

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I was held in such love, support and tenderness. I was challenged…body, mind and spirit…through the intense and extremely intricate dance form of Odissi. I went through many waves of emotions…self-doubt, confidence, joy, elation, fear. I experienced breakthroughs, missteps, triumphs, disappointment, humility and honor.

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Through it all I felt cared for and loved by my teachers, fellow students, and the beautiful people of Pushkar. I released many tears of gratitude and relief. Places in my heart mended from past traumas. My body grew leaps and bounds in strength and flexibility. My connection to and love of my teacher deepened. Friendships with some of the most beautiful people I’ve ever encountered took root and blossomed.

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I found that every cell in my body was renewed in light and love. That by simply opening up more to this love I was able to receive and give, receive and give, receive and give with greater ease and flow…because I came to truly understand that my source is infinite. The well is bottomless.

This understanding rocked me to my core.

So the morning that I left Pushkar I asked myself “why would I leave this?”

My body and soul were in shock. I wasn’t ready. My journey wasn’t complete. I had just begun. I had just cracked the code…

I felt heavy with love, longing, joy, heartbreak, appreciation, and loss. I cried as we left the amazing staff at our hotel. I cried as my beautiful dance school disappeared behind the taxi as we drove off. I cried and cried and cried.

Tears of gratitude. Tears of grief.

How can we fit so much love in these little bodies of ours? How can we bear it?

We move forward. We take one step in front of the other. And even though the longing in my heart is still there, I am forever grateful that I was given this opportunity and I know that I will return for more.

The love affair has only begun.

I now have dance sisters in Greece, Italy, Chile, Japan, Mexico, France, the UK, Spain and beyond. How lucky am I? How blessed!

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And I realize that that inside of the bliss and gratitude and ecstasy of life, there sometimes exists a longing and sadness too.

Along with my understanding that love is infinite and the well is bottomless, I simultaneously embrace my humanity. I allow the sadness and loss to exist. They are feelings. Pure and simple.

I remember the truth even though I am sometimes sad.

Even though I miss my dance sisters and I relive the memories of joy in India.

I know that this love is always here in my heart.

So many precious moments. Moments in our beautiful school. Moments looking out at the beautiful city of Pushkar during sunset.

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I have a new set of eyes now. I am more available to love. I am ready for more adventure and travel and connection. I am ready to go even deeper.

The next level is now and I embrace it.

I vow to be ever present and in appreciation for all of the emotions that rage through me. I vow to breathe into the joy and elation, loss and grief.

I vow to love fiercely and wholeheartedly, to the best of my ability.

And…I will return to India. Again and again. I am truly, madly and deeply in love.

Thank you, India.

XO

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photos and video by Carrie Stiles