Hello from the Himalayas! I am writing this to you at 3am overlooking the lake in Pokhara which is one of the sweet small towns in Nepal where backpackers from all over the world gather before taking off on their treks into the mountains. Tomorrow morning I am embarking on the 18 day hike called the Annapurna Circuit.
The Annapurna Circuit is a 3-week trek where you eat in and stay at various teahouses along the way (read: you don't have to pack a tent and all of your food for 18 days). You traverse lush sub-tropical landscapes, walk through pine forests and hike up into the highest mountains in the world (with the highest elevation crossing being 17,749 feet). In addition to some of the most awe-inspiring scenery in the world, you also see small mountain villages, Buddhist and Hindu temples and are able to rest your body and soak in hot springs along the way. It's rumored to be one of the best hikes in the world and I'm off to find out.
During my last weekend in New York before taking off on this adventure, some girlfriends and I went to a weekend workshop with David Deida at the Omega Institute. It was inspiring to hear a man speak with so much candor and clarity on the topics of exploring sensuality as a way to open up to God (see his books called Dear Lover, The Way of the Superior Man, Blue Truth, Finding God through Sex and the Enlightened Sex Manual) , to live life as art and on the creative edge. His invitation is to keep opening, opening, opening to the power of the present moment.
There were pages and pages of notes with take away insights that he shared and the one that continues to come back to me on a daily basis are his words, "All spiritual practice takes place in the present moment." Sigh.
I just spent the last 36 hours in Kathmandu, Nepal which is known as a city of temples. There are more temples than other buildings and more gods and goddess worshiped than the number of people that live in the city. (Or so says our delightful local guide.) The Tibetan prayer flags blowing in the wind changed me. The old woman doing 108 prostrations outside the stupa (temple) with it's conscious raising eyes changed me. The hundreds of monks spinning the prayer wheels changed me. Being back in a devotional culture changed me. And speaking of David Deida and finding God through Sex, I was delighted by the erotic art abundantly shown on the outsides of the temples.
How does this translate to movement? To Qoya? Qoya is all about remembering. Remembering our essence, that we are inherently wise, wild and free. It is my hope that when women have the physical sensation of remembering the power of their presence and the pulse of their life force in their own sacred body, that that empowers them to take it into the world WHEREVER they desire. And- that they trust their desires. That they develop a stronger and stronger sense of trusting themselves as they navigate through the world- come what may.
I am so honored to be doing this trek with a company called 3 Sisters Adventure Trekking. They are 3 sisters in Nepal who used to run a guest house for people trekking in the Himalayas when they noticed that women hikers were being harassed by male guides and ultimately didn't feel safe and were encouraging other women not to come. These women wanted to offer a service to women who felt called to trekking in their home country and although they didn't have any trekking experience, they started to informally organize trips. Turns out they were really good at it. They sought out all the education they needed to be a guide and now train over 50 women in Nepal each year on how to be a guide in Nepal. Word of mouth spread and they have a thriving business and use the money they make from the business to fund their non-profit organization to empower the young women of Nepal.
As they went up into the villages they continued to see injustices with children being abused and used for child labor. Child sex trafficking of young girls to India is also a problem here. See the book Sold by Patricia McCormick and the non-profit Didi Project who are trying to bring awareness and change to the women in this part of the world.
The 3 sisters good intentions to stop child labor and traffic weren't enough, so they went for international support to enforce the international laws to protect children. Then, they started an orphanage that I went to today for these abused or orphaned children who are given an education, loving support and many are even sent to the US for college. The 3 sisters and their staff are amazing women. Their eyes are bright. Their hearts are true. Their lives a piece of art. When I spoke with one of the sisters today and asked her how she was, "She said today is good. Tomorrow, anything can happen. But, today...today is very good."
All spiritual practice takes place in the present moment.
The easiest way I know to experience the power of the present moment is through movement. I invite you to move out of your comfort zone today. First, in your body. Turn on a song you wouldn't normally dance to and do moves you wouldn't normally do. If you always free dance standing up, get on the floor. If your default are your "too cool for school" club moves, try dancing the voice of your heart. If you always dance to upbeat music, go deeper, get soulful. If you have been listening to a lot of Sarah McLachlan lately, take is up a notch, maybe some Madonna.
Then, after you move your body in relationship to exercise, experiment with shifting the way you move your body in the world.
- Drive a different way to work. The road less traveled.
- Go to a new restaurant.
- Invite someone interesting to tea and notice your body and your breath as you connect.
- Buy a plane ticket to a country you have never been.
- Read a book about a life that you could not imagine ever living.
Use the novelty of the new to bring you into a higher state of awareness and imagine for today that all spiritual practice takes place in the present moment. Enjoy the moments as they unfold.
Sending you love from the mountaintops and blessings on the path,