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5 Lessons From India
In case you missed it, I was alone in India giving a TEDx talk and decided to take a trip with my 12-year-old son, Jude. It was a trip of a lifetime, and we had the best time with Jude even wanting to stay! I am so grateful for the time we spent there and the time we spent together. In today’s busy world, this is rare. He is a great traveler, and we also had a lot to take away from being in such a different culture. Here is a picture of the Gandhi Memorial.
Read today’s article where I share what we learned and how we can all apply these lessons to our daily lives 🙂
Here are my 5 takeaways from India:
1. Get comfortable being uncomfortable ~ Unfortunately, there is a lot of poverty in India. It stands out in all major cities and can cause a bit of anxiety when walking. My son and I kept a low profile, often just driving around these areas and getting out of the car to see the main sites. It was interesting to see my son Jude’s reaction. I was very scared when we got out of the car in these types of areas, which is one of the reasons we kept such a low profile. It definitely made sense to be cautious, but it felt that way even in the safest cities. We were walking through one of the most spiritual places and Jude’s fear reached its peak when someone asked him to enter his tent to see his puppies. Of course, here in North America, that would raise a red “stranger danger” flag, and that’s exactly what we teach our kids NOT to be influenced by. He was happy that the lesson had sunk in, but sad that it also held him back in a new country. Again, it’s great to be cautious, but everyone in India has been so kind and welcoming and it’s different there. We ended up going back to our driver and had him drive us to the different sites in this city. Our driver took us around this small town, on a one-way street, where the cars didn’t make any noise! He was constantly touching the cars… and the cows! – to get out of the way! He really took one for the team, and was definitely more nervous about people getting mad that we were “breaking the rules” than seeing anyone’s puppies! This was a great lesson in getting comfortable being uncomfortable, for which it became our new joke whenever we felt a little off.
Things are going to be different outside the bubbles we live in. Being comfortable with being uncomfortable allows us to experience new things and be open to different ideas and ways of being.
2. Open to receive ~ In India they practice “Atithi Devo Bhava” which means the Guest is the equivalent of God. We were overwhelmed by the love and service they gave us. We were truly treated like royalty. At college, all our meals and tea were made for us and served, even when we used a food delivery service. The staff insisted on serving us on plates to make it look good. It was amazing! Many of the students took pictures of us and wanted tons of selfies, even with Jude! We felt a little funny at first, but quickly realized it was rude not to accept all the great service and were reminded that they were receiving.
What if we treated our own guests like this? How different would our dining and customer interactions be? Hmm… I think we are all worthy of this kind of love J
3. Stay flexible ~ we quickly learned that well-laid plans often take longer than anticipated. Instead of being so rigid and careful if we didn’t get to certain places by a certain time, I practiced letting go and being flexible. It was amazing to go with the flow, they needed changes of plans and I was reminded how this is such a peaceful existence when we operate from this place. With being a busy mom and business owner, taking control and managing everything comes with the territory BUT we can also take this too far. There has to be an element of going with the flow and bending our own rules. If we go too far, the “need to control” is much more about the “need to feel safe.”
Finding a happy medium in all areas of life is the best thing to do: screw up and let go.
4. Embrace different cultures ~ each area we visited had a different type of environment and we learned to adjust quickly. A holy mother was the traffic a completely different situation! I have never heard so many horns and send such deep congestion. We learned to trust our diver very quickly. One of my favorite traditions was in the Himalayas, where everyone bows with their hands in a prayer position to greet each other. I started doing it too and even Jude was doing it by the end. It was such a peaceful way to say hello. If you see me doing this around town you’ll know why 😉
We talked about which practices we would like to incorporate into our daily lives, one of them being high tea. In India they have tea and biscuits around 5 or 5:30, before dinner which starts around 7:30. Jude especially loved this and we import it into our evenings at home. Instead of waiting for a night when everyone is home at the same time – which is almost impossible considering everyone’s activities and schedules – we start doing it with whoever is home. I love the unexpected connection it’s bringing.
5. Holy Cow ~ we found out why they don’t eat beef in India (even McDonalds only has chicken). The cow is indeed afraid because it gives milk, and the idea is that nothing else be taken from it for that. As a result, cows roam freely across the country; I’m still amazed at how they are able to navigate the thick, congested traffic.
Above all, there was the love, kindness and gratitude that every person we met seemed to show. From university staff, to students, through hotel staff, to people on the street. Everyone was grateful and kind. What an inspiration for all of us to live like this 🙂
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