Journey to Health: Continuing to Live From my Heart

My experience at Yasodhara Ashram in August was life changing. I came home with peace toward myself, my surroundings, and my decisions. I learned that in order to move forward with my life’s journey, I had to accept myself, forgive myself, and find happiness from within.

To keep negativity, worries, and doubts at a minimum, I’ve come up with a couple of ways I can remind myself of the beauty that’s within me. One of my favorites so far has been my new approach to journaling.

The approach is simple. Be open to learning about myself through all of my day-to-day experiences.

I’ve been amazed to learn that a slight tweak in awareness translates to major positivity and love! I’ve been successful in finding one beautiful thing on a daily basis, writing about it, and truly understanding how it makes me feel.

I’ve written about a man in Home Depot that was building a gift for his wife on their 50th wedding anniversary, my yoga teacher who advised me to find length instead of pushing or stretching into a pose, and about Lexy; our loyal dog, coming to my aid when I’d tripped down the stairs.

I would have never been open to accepting these experiences and translating them into a message that could be applied to my own spiritual growth. But here I am a couple of month’s later, reading into the signs, staying aware, understanding myself, and becoming happier as a result.

So, this is when something exciting happened. I was feeling all zen like one day, playing with the idea of returning to Yasodhara in the New Year, when this crazy idea came to me.

Leanne, you should go to India!

That’s totally the way it came out. Straight to the point, no beating around the bush, clear as day.

India.

I immediately felt compelled to go for it. Now, I’m not a spur-of-the-moment gal. I usually sit with a decision for a couple of days before I jump head first into the unknown. Especially if it involves me going too far from home.

But this, this was something different. The moment it came to me, I just felt it was right. I felt safe, and warm, and welcome. It wasn’t because I thought the trip would be fun, or that it would result in a nice vacation, but rather that I trusted what my heart was telling me, and knew it was what I needed to do.

Next thing I knew I was planning a 3 week trip to India. Yes, India. You know that place that’s like 7,574 miles from my front door?

Ya, that’s the one.

After doing some research on Ashrams; and deciding that I wanted to stay in line with the teachings from Yasodhara, Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Dhanwantari Ashram in Trivandrum; a couple hours flight from Mumbai, felt like the perfect place.

… and it’s in the tropical part of India, which can’t hurt, right?

A month following my decision, my VISA application was approved, travel clinic visits were booked, flights were arranged, a 2 nights stay in a swanky Mumbai hotel was booked,  a little bed at the ashram was confirmed for 3 weeks, and I had one heart filled with fear and excitement.

3 weeks in India. Someone pinch me. Am I really doing this?

I leave mid-February, so I’ll be sharing more travel plans in the months ahead.

Top priority right now: figure out what food I’m going to bring with me. Haha ya… I said it.

When’s the last time you followed your heart and made a big leap, despite the fears that come along with it?

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  1. That’s amazing! I can’t wait to hear all about your experience! And food would be at the forefront if my mind too. ;)

  2. Wow Leanne, I really admire you for being so brave and doing what your heart is telling you to do. Life isn’t about playing it safe. You [might] only have one life to live, so you gotta do what you feel is right! I know you will have an amazing time and experience overall. Not too many people are willing to step outside that comfort zone and just go for something big!

    I guess the last time that I took a leap was following my heart and telling my boyfriend that I’m in love with him. It was definately a scary thing to do, because I feel like a sense of commitment definately comes along with it, but I’m so glad I did :)

    • That is a huge and scary leap, for sure. Good on you for going with your heart and opening yourself up to someone else. In many respects, that’s even scarier than going to a different country by yourself!

  3. I don’t say that I live with “regrets”. All in all, I really don’t. But one thing I really, really, really wish I had done about 7-8 years ago when the calling for me to go to India was SO STRONG was to go.

    I was researching it all, I was googling India, ashrams, airlines, visas, etc…and in the end, I just didnt make it happen. Woulda coulda shoulda. And now, with a small child, either taking her with me or leaving for 2-4 weeks, neither sound like a great option…so India is on hold for me.

    I am sooooo happy for you. This is.amazing. Truly, just amazing. I knew your retreat was life changing, and now I can see even more so JUST how life changing it has been and will continue to be. I wish I could go with you!!! :)

  4. Leanne, how wonderful. You are going to have such an amazing, spiritual time. I’m inspired to spend some time at an ashram! Congratulations on your decision.

    I’m currently working on making a major change in the path of my life. It’s scary, but relieving at the same time.

  5. Wow that’s going to be such a life changing experience! Are you going to maintain blogging, or focus on yourself and spirituality during that time?

    • I’m hoping to blog from India. Internet will be relatively challenging to connect to everyday, but I’ll still be connected when I can be!

  6. Leanne – It’s a wonderful thing to be able to trust your heart and go with this calling to India – so many people let other things get in the way of their path and in the end they are somewhere they maybe didn’t want to be – but you are leaping into that joyful unknown and I wish you all the best in your journey and what you will learn before, during and after your trip! My own leap of faith has been 6 years in the making – so I’m glad you don’t have to wait that long! ( :

  7. So exciting! I can’t wait to hear all about it. I am following my heart to enter yoga teacher training in January. I can’t picture myself leading a class, but am hoping that comes along during the 10 week course. Enjoy your journey!

  8. Wow Leanne, this is such a beautiful post, and SO exciting!! I admire you for being so in-touch with your spirituality. I am Catholic, but to be honest, don’t really consider myself an overly spiritual person. I really can’t think of any life-changing super-scary decisions that I’ve made, but this post is definitely inspiration to do so. Your journaling comments appeal to me a lot, and I think we can all do with expressing a little more gratitude, be it on paper or actually with words spoken to people. Thanks for helping me kick my Saturday off on a great start!

    • Aw thanks, Angela :) I’m glad I could set your Saturday off on a good note. I hope you had a fantastic day!

  9. Your brave and it’s great to hear that you’re following your heart. Wow, India, ashram, 3 weeks. Your amazing. Sometimes the messages are always there if you just listen to the whisper. Doing charity work led me to my path of holistic health and food healing and I’m loving the journey. I can’t wait to hear about your amazing journey.

  10. How cool! I spontaneously booked my flight to India last Saturday and I’m going in December! So exciting. I’m going with two friends (one is my yoga teacher) so it’s not as scary as going all alone like you do but still!!!!

    All the vaccinations you need, what kind of food will I get there (two of us are vegan, the other one can’t eat grains). I can’t really believe I’m REALLY going there, like REALLY!

    • You’ll have to stop by and let me know how it went! Will you be blogging about your travels? What part of India are you going to? I’ve found a freeze-dried food company that can do dairy-free and gluten-free meals. Will be mentioning them in the weeks to come once I get their products. May also be an option for you, too!

  11. Oh, girl, that is just so amazing and wonderful and I’m soooo excited for you! Best wishes and I think sometimes the decisions we make that are so spur-of-the-moment are the ones that heal us the most. It sounds as though you are interpreting the signs all around you and becoming fully aware of what you need at this point in your life.

    I have this total “Eat Pray Love” journey worked out in my head, too, and it’s absolutelyl something I want to pursue in the not-too-distant future.

    Can’t wait to hear about your travels!!!!

  12. Wow this sounds like an incredible adventure! I am so excited for you. I would LOVE to go to India for many of the very same reasons you mentioned for yourself, so I look forward to living vicariously through you! Congrats on already getting past one of the hardest parts of a huge trip, making the decision, researching it and booking it all – sometimes that alone can be paralyzing! Enjoy.

  13. I have made 2 big, scary, life changing decisions in the last decade or so. The first was to follow through with a highschool dream and travel by my self until I was done traveling. This turned into a 2 year adventure taking me through Thailand, Taiwan, Australia, and New Zealand. I worked as a deckhand on tallships, picked zucchinis under the hot Australian sun, learned how to SCUBA dive, and found life long friends in the most unexpected places.

    The second was the decision to go back to school 13 years after graduating high school to get a degree in Nursing. Even though this meant having to live in a different city from my partner of 5 years for a year as he figured out how to change jobs to join me.

    What I have taken away from the leaps of daring is that the best things come from moving towards the things that frighten you. If it feels right, but I am scared to do it – I take it as a message that this is where I need to go next. Facing fears leads to growth.

    Enjoy India! I hope you find joy, friendship, and inner-strength. (That’s what traveling solo gave me)

    • Wow Camillia, thank you for sharing your experiences! I loved “If it feels right, but I am scared to do it – I take it as a message that this is where I need to go next” 100% true to my experience. Scared to death, but I know it’s what I need to do!

    • That’s so true and I’ve always followed that mantra – If it feels right but I am scared to do it, that’s where I need to go – except for the last few years. I’ve been taking a backseat in my own life and I realise that now – I’ve been doing and doing and doing but not actually LIVING.

      What a big realisation, all from your comment – thank you SO MUCH!

      And Leanne, best of luck and look forward to hearing all about it on the blog x

  14. Sounds amazing! I love how spontaneous and at the same time well thought out this decision of yours is! You must be so excited. It’s going to change your life! I have always wanted to go India ever since a little kid flipping through my dads national geographic mags, but with school it doesn’t fit right now! Anyways, you will have so much fun! Take tons of photos (:

  15. This is a beautiful post that seems to coincide with a really beautiful experience.

    It warms my heart to see people following their dreams. I recently got laid off from my job. So I restarted my yoga practice, decided to move to Korea in February, sold my car and moved to a new town. When you’re going to India, I will be headed to Korea! Isn’t life exciting??

    • Wow that’s amazing, Abby! Will this be your first time in Korea? Such a huge, giant leap! But it sounds absolutely fantastic!

      • It is, but I have always wanted to live in Asia. I have traveled extensively, but never there. So I am both scared and thrilled.

  16. This is incredible! Congratulations on the Visa, I’m so excited for you! This summer was definitely a follow your heart moment for me. I am finally finding peace and coming to terms with some internal struggles I’ve had.

  17. What a beautiful, beautiful post. Thank you for sharing your journey! I am so jelaous and have been wanting to do an ashram retreat for over three years now. I’ve written it off as something that just isn’t doable for me. But you’ve inspired me to renew my hope in that dream and given me the motivation to start actively pursuing it again. Thank you!!!

  18. This is amazing! I’ve been reading your blog for about a month now, (first comment) I have always wanted to go to India was going to go 5 yrs ago, then something came up. I can’t wait to hear about your experiences and I admire your ability to follow your heart, because if we don’t follow our heart what’s the point in living :)

    • Hi Misty :) Thanks for saying hi! You’re totally right, living from our heart definitely makes more sense if we only have a limited time here!

  19. Go for it! I did, well didn’t go to India, but to its neighbor to the west. I followed my heart, sold nearly everything I owned, and I am still here. That was 18years ago. Amazed at everything that I have done and learned. Love my husband and son, and will never have any regrets. If you need some friendly advice as far as food/water goes, would be glad to give you some pointers.

    • Oh wow, Jaan. That’s amazing! I’ve joked around with Kevin saying “I may just call for you to join me in India…” wouldn’t that be a riot! I would love food/water tips. I’ve done tons of research, but it’s always nice getting it from someone instead of reading random tips online.

  20. Your journey is one of beauty and inspiration. I say inspiring because it is obvious that it inspires you everyday, which in return inspires those that are fortunate to know you personally or read about your life through a blog. What a true gift to go to India, Leanne. How the Universe works like that always marvels me. It is almost as if your short trip to the Ashram in August was but a mere preview of what is to come in the 3 weeks you will spend in India. I cannot wait to see what happens in your life as a result and know in confidence that the after effects will continue to touch the lives of those who get to read about it (me, especially). Much love to you! xoxo. I think you are so awesome!

    • Aw Cara, you’re great :) You’re so right about the trip I took to the ashram near my home. I think it was in preparation of the larger journey. But had I not gone, I never would have been open to India! The world works in mysterious ways, that’s for sure. I can’t wait to go and share my experiences! It’s going to be grand!

  21. Ha! My sister and I decided on a spur of the moment that we will be going to India on Christmas day for 2 weeks. We haven’t travelled together to India in 19 years so we thought it was high time for us to do the trip back to the motherland to see my mom who is there for the next 6 months. All I can say about India is that if you come back the same person, you didn’t actually experience India. But somehow I don’t think you’ll have that problem ;) Can’t wait to read all about your Indian adventures.

    • Sona, that’s fantastic that you and Rachna are taking a trip together. I can’t wait until my sister gets a bit older and she sees the value in doing something like that with me! I’m sure you ladies, along with your Mom, will have a fantastic time!

  22. That is SO exciting! Good for you for doing what you want to do! I look forward to your updates and details about your trip!
    PS – I am so the same way when it comes to planning and food :)

    • Yay! I’m happy I’m not alone :) Last thing I want to worry about when I’m that far away from home is what I’m going to eat for dinner. That would be ridiculous!

  23. That sounds AMAZING! I’m so jealous! :)

    I’m having my own struggles and trying to find what my place is in this world and trying to find my true voice. I keep coming back to yoga and how making that a career would be cool, but I don’t know if I’d be a good teacher. Things to think about, I guess.

    Great post!

    • I’ve struggled with the same thing when it comes to becoming a yoga teacher. Finally I just went for it, telling myself that if I just let myself go, and just teach from my heart, I’d be a fabulous teacher. It’s sort of like removing yourself from your thoughts and then your talent can shine through you. I’d continue to sit with this for yourself, sounds like your heart may be trying to tell you something! I didn’t get to go forward with teacher training as I broke my wrist 1 week before it began… but I’ll do it one day!

  24. Congratulations. Live large. Take a big ol’ bite out of life. Signed, reading you in Minneapolis.

  25. India is really amazing, really overwhelming too. People in India are really great hosts, they want you to love their country so much. Mumbai is a great city to start in, very Western in many aspects. My best advice for female Western travelers is to dress conservatively, long pants or skirts. Also be aware of your neckline height, it’s not really acceptable to show the area between say 2 inches below your clavicle and down. Having said that, you won’t get in trouble, you might just get some unwanted male attention. I know it sounds old-fashioned or sexist, but I always feel much more comfortable in India when I know I am dressed conservatively, even more conservatively than many young women today in India. Anyway, I hope that helps! I know you didn’t ask for advice, but I hope you don’t mind :)

    • Thanks for your advice, Amber! I’ll take everything I can get :)

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