Homecoming – or Going

Sunrise over Vaidyagrama

This morning as I watched the sun rise over New Mexico, I marveled anew at the wonder of this globe. We spin on our little axis through space, pulled in endless scheduled circles around a ball of fire amongst countless other rotating spheres passing in their own exact orbits. The celestial bodies that I gazed up at from Vaidyagrama are visible to me now, in their turn, from here on the other side of the planet. Watching them keeps me aware of the true scale of things.

Door to door, my trip home from India took a total of 44 hours: an hour-long tear-stained taxi ride, followed by four flights interspersed with 14 land-bound hours of layovers, capped off by a beautiful sunset drive through the deserts of New Mexico. I am already missing my dear friends at Vaidyagrama – AND it is a joy to be home.

My typical pancha karma attire - oily hair in a towel and at least three patterns below the neck.

My last week of pancha karma was dedicated to recuperation. All of the intensive treatments were over so now my body just got to soak in the strengthening herbal medicines, fresh foods, natural surroundings, and daily oil massages while it got strong again. My focus shifted from my body’s cleansing and re-balancing to that of my mind. There was almost no explicit guidance from the doctors on that aspect of pancha karma, but the very structure of Vaidyagrama itself points you towards reflection and increasing mental quiet. With all of my physical needs taken care of, I took it as a rare opportunity to reduce as much mental input as possible. Just as eating more food before the previous meal is digested results in a backlog and poor digestion, I realized I am constantly putting in more information before the previous installment is processed. My mental digestion would benefit from some fasting.

So for my last week at Vaidyagrama, I gave up the internet entirely, and – even more challenging for me – I abandoned all reading. No studying the ancient texts, no yoga books, no poetry, not even a “just for fun” novel. No input. Honestly, the prospect was more than a little unnerving.

When you sit with yourself for so long in this intense practice of stripping away, you can discover what you’re leaning on, what’s keeping you comfortable but not really vibrant. My brain is always working; even my mental “neutral” is pretty active. Those shifting gears create a certain amount of background noise that is somehow reassuring, the white noise of my brain. It was a shock to have nothing to take in, nothing new to process – no white noise. Suddenly other “noises” could be heard. It felt odd, but never boring, to go out to the porch with nothing in my hands to read. I watched the rain or the birds, or closed my eyes and watched my thoughts go by, wandering through the stacks of my memories and dreams.

At first, I expected that this would provoke an internal revolution. I kept watching for the revelations, a breakthrough to rock my perspective. Before long I realized that even that baited-breath watchfulness revealed a drive to accomplish something, to have some proof of time well spent. It is an insidious pressure. What I longed for, I realized, was to have NO expectations, nothing to defend or prove. Just to sit, and have that be enough. So I sat. And I have nothing to report. No analysis, no tidy landing place…. Just a quiet, humble relief.

How do you say good-bye to a community of teachers, caregivers and friends who have come to feel like family? The best solution I have come up with is not to – to start planning your reunion as soon as possible. As the taxi pulled away down the dirt drive, I waved to Dr. Ramdas, Lima, Rtu, Dr. Om, Dr. Aruna and the rest of the crowd until the bend in the road hid them from sight, and I began picturing my return.

I’ve now been here in my parents’ home in Santa Fe for one week, with several unscheduled weeks still in front of me. As my body continues to get stronger, the wealth of experiences of the last six months are percolating in the periphery of my awareness. It is said that the true effect of pancha karma is not felt until three months later, as the cells turn over in the course of their natural life cycles and the body is literally renewed. I am certain the same could be said about the effect of living  in a foreign land for six months. The seeds sown in this season will bear fruit in their own time.

At the Ooty Botanical Garden

In the meantime, I fully recognize the great luxury I am experiencing right now – no job to report to, no family to take care of, few bills to pay – and I am relishing my diminished interactions with the world for a bit longer. I know it will soon take effort and intention to gracefully navigate the demands that will resume. I have faith that my experience of life at Vaidyagrama will give me discrimination in choosing which strands I weave back into the fabric of my daily life.

What happens next for me? I will stay in Santa Fe for the rest of July and then make my way to my new home: Austin, Texas. Some of you may know my brother Ian and his wife Jeri Lynn, two of the most inspiring artists (and blog writers, incidentally) that I know. Their roots are deep in Austin, and I get more and more excited about joining them in creating our own village, right there up the road from Barton Springs.

My niece, Koruna, whose brother is due in August

I will set up shop as an Ayurveda consultant and yoga instructor, offering workshops and individual consultations to help clients find their unique sources of health and contentment in life. And I will remain open to the guiding spirit that led me so effortlessly through India, watching for my right path to emerge, the path with the true sense of calling and a sense of ease.

One unexpected joy I found in India was connecting with all of you here. I plan to continue writing here and sharing inspirations rooted in the rich earth of Ayurveda – ideas about community, nature, delicious food, healing, the gifts of yoga, the importance of beauty, and other roadside attractions. I hope you will continue to keep me company on this path. Good company, I have seen, is often the very best medicine.

The full moon over Vaidyagrama

31 Replies to “Homecoming – or Going”

  1. Dear Ivy,

    Its so good to know you are HOME. Hope all fine at your end. It is lovely to read your wonderful blogs. You articulate so well. Happy to note that you had a great time at Vaidyagrama.Will pray for a safe and normal delivery for your sister-in-law.I am shifting to Boston on July 23rd.So busy packing stuff although it is back breaking but definitely looking forward to being with the kids.Do keep in touch. As always my BEST WISHES to you and love you.- Satya

    1. Hello Satya,

      I am thinking of you today, imagining that you are packing and getting ready for the big move in just a week! I hope all is going smoothly and that you are able to intersperse your work with some good rest. Thank you so much for your good wishes. It does feel good to be home, and preparing for my own move in a couple of weeks. Sending you good moving wishes!
      love, ivy

  2. Dear Ivy, like the others, I am so happy to know you plan to continue writing this blog. I have loved reading about your experiences; you and your family continue to broaden my world in so many ways. I also love that I can picture you relaxing in the casita or in the house at Santa Fe. Remember that Abilene is on the way to Austin if you need a stopping off point!

    1. Thanks so much Nancy. It’s such a joy to have you in my life! I will certainly keep your home in Abilene in mind – I’ve heard such good reports of your roadside hospitality! I look forward to seeing you SOMEwhere soon. Much love, ivy

  3. Dear Ivy,

    Congratulations with finishing with great success the course and the Pancha Karma at Vaydiagrama! Thank you very much for sharing your experiences.
    I wish you a good recovery and integration in Santa Fe, and a very good start in Austin. I think you have a lot to offer, I am sure that many people will come to you and will benefit from your knowledge and skills.

    I wish you all the best,

    Love,

    Donca

    1. Hello Donca, and thank you so much for your wishes. I will hold your vision for future success and abundance close to my heart. I hope your time at Vaidyagrama will prove restorative and healing in countless ways. You may even be on your way already! I am sending you all my best wishes! Peace, ivy

  4. I am just joining in the chorus of happy people singing “welcome home.” See you soon in Austin!
    Love,
    Melissa

    1. Thank you, Dr. Ramkumar – so nice to see you here. Thanks for reading. I look forward to keeping in touch between my sojourns to Vaidyagrama! Take good care, ivy

  5. The blue pants you’re wearing at Ooty Botanical Garden, where can I find those? So wonderful, want some JUST like that.

  6. Hi Ivy.. great writing.. wish you all the all the best in all your endevours… and hope to catch up sometime in time as they say.. and most importantly thank you for stepping in and stepping up during the conference…. thanks to all of you there…

    tc… be welll

  7. Lucky, lucky Austin, lucky Rae Dell village, lucky clients, oh lucky anyone whose path crosses yours in this life, lucky lucky us that you plan to continue giving the gift of this journal, lucky sunset that gets you to write its story. Welcome home, dearheart.

    1. Oh Flo, you’re too dear – *I* feel lucky these days – so lucky for this amazing experience in India, and lucky to have such a wonderful family to come home to (some of whom I will luckily get to see in December!). xox

  8. Welcome home, sweet friend! Thank you for reminding me -through your reflections – about the most important things, the things that are NOT things, that are make this life so good! I can’t wait to make a date for a visit with you, sweet friend. I look forward to continuing to receive your musings and other roadside attractions as you transition into your sweet community in Austin. Sending you my love tonight, sweet Ivy.

    1. Thank you dear Gretchen! Yes, i can’t wait to catch up with you too! And I was having a little daydream the other day about you possibly making a visit to Austin, since there will be TWO of your friends there now! I’m sending you love too…. peace, ivy

  9. So beautiful, Ivy. I must have told you somewhere along the way, what my guru wrote me when I was 7 or 8 yrs old…”Keep good company. Good company makes a man great.” Glad you found it and that you are it and am grateful you will likely get to be it, for many.

    1. Dear Claudia, your guru’s words transmitted through the able vehicle of YOU were indeed in my thoughts as I was writing this – and of course, you are a fine example of the company I am so fortunate and grateful to have found along this path. Much love…

  10. thank you, ivy for these beautiful reflections. i have been inspired by your adventures (and your beautiful writing) and look forward to sharing some adventures with you when you “turn texan” 🙂

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