When I was 28 I quit the western way of life and booked an open flight to India. After 4 years at university, 5 years working at music festivals, and 1 year working behind a desk in a London dance company restoring my body to health after the years of festival-frenzied drug-taking (yes, a trauma response but that’s a conversation for another time) I dropped my expectations. I packed a bag and flew to Delhi and then onward to Goa. It was 2007.
Facebook had just become a worldwide phenomenon and I refused to start an account despite my boyfriend’s insistence. A week before I flew out he asked me to marry him, my second proposal up to then. There have been 3 more since. A proposal that I knew in my body came from the fear of losing me. I said “yes” but didn’t mean it, didn’t have the integrity nor the voice to speak my truth. I was leaving anyway. I thought it didn’t matter.
It took me 3 weeks to acclimatise. My days melted from one into another. I would wake up late, eat fruit and yoghurt at one of the beach shacks, swim in the Arabian Sea and lay in the sun, flirt with newcomers and go on daily adventures with new friends. I’d go to markets, ride motorbikes, eat rice and dahl with locals, smile and chat with the ladies in their saris, and learn about this new world I found myself in. I ignored messages from my boyfriend and called him as little as possible. I wanted to be devoid of any obligations.
A month in I took a bus 16 hours south into Kerala and did my first Vipassana retreat. 10 days of silence. I left with a small group of fellow meditators, all of us high on the sensual delights of life after being completely cut off for so long. I forgot my phone on the stairs of the meditation centre and my boyfriend couldn’t call me anymore. I decided I didn’t want a phone anyway. We travelled through Tamil Nadu and then I went off alone until I joined up with another girl I met on the way and we explored more of Kerala and Karnataka together.
I did this for 6 months all over the country. There was a continuous natural weaving of people, experiences, places, guiding me forward. All I had to do was exist. All I had to remember was to breathe, to eat, to be. Everything I needed: books, yoga, opportunities, friends, would magically reveal themselves to me like breadcrumbs on a path. At some point I left most of my belongings with friends of a friend in Delhi, carrying only a school rucksack with my favourite 5 outfits, some coconut oil, a few toiletries, my journal, a sheet and a cashmere blanket. I did not need or want more. Life felt so full and every moment so fleeting.
These details, while true, are not important. What is at the forefront of my mind, what I am yearning for so strongly right now, is this luscious freedom, the slowness, the feeling of fullness, the simple life where the only things we think of day to day are where we will sleep and when we will eat and where we will go next. I want to untether and reclaim my life. I want to take back my time. I want to choose a life that is the truest extension of who I am: free-spirited, intuitive, guided by the unseen, a true wanderess. And I want to do it my way.
Perhaps not entirely as boundless as I did then. I have changed. The world has changed. What stopped me from travelling was my desire to have a project to sink my teeth into. Floating through life became tiresome and I was ready to contribute. I wanted to give back. This time, I have the project. It’s work that I love and cherish immeasurably. I am exploring how to loosely hold space for both parts of me: the responsible, deeply caring, observational and intuitive businesswoman and the unfettered freedom-seeking spiritual nomad.
To do so I spend a lot of time sitting with and resolving any subconscious conditioning around my desire to live a fluid life where the act of living is prioritised before working, productivity and output. Something I am working really intentionally at is reprogramming the way I live my life and spend my time. I know that my internal belief systems state the external experience I have. Through massive clearing and cleaning out of what no longer aligns to my becoming, my true self, I am pioneering a new path, a new paradigm.
If you want to join me on this journey, I invite you to join us for Boundaried next week. A 2-hour workshop on Zoom exploring what it means to have radical self-responsibility and be integral with our actions and words. Specifically, with the way, we spend our time. So that it is no longer wasted. To reclaim our lives. For myself, and for you.
For the curious ones: at some point, my boyfriend came to see me in India and I ended our relationship in a very calm and centred way and broke his heart. And a year later got back together and then broke his heart again. Yes, I had a lot of learning and growing to do when it came to relationships. I still do.
Around here, we do things a little differently...
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