Delhi, India is everything I imagined it would be, and more: a jewel, with its magnificent temples, mosques and forts; colorful and loud, with its crowded, dusty streets; and full of soul, like its people, dark eyes shining back at me as I walk full of awe through the carnival that is a Delhi marketplace or street.
It is a symphony of chaos, a cacophony of car horns as green-and-yellow auto rickshaws, bicycles, cars, buses, and pedestrians jostle for space in streets seemingly without lanes.
It is a wild riot of colors with sparkling saris catching my eye everywhere I look, as the women stroll the markets dressed elegantly and beautifully, wrapped in bright silk in orange, green, russet, pink, gold, with woolen scarves wrapped around their shoulders to keep them warm in the Delhi winter cold.
I have never seen so much silver and gold on the streets, so many sequins and embroidery, in the colorful cloth of the women’s saris and salwar kameez. It is as if every day is a festival, as these lovely peacocks go about the business of daily living: market, work, and home.
I’m awed to be surrounded by so much beauty and these streets teeming with life, in a country rich in history, culture, spirituality. The people of Delhi live their busy lives in such close proximity here in India, the most populous democracy on earth with 1.2 billion people.
It boggles the mind and overloads the senses at first to be in the midst of all of this, after flying here from my small city of Troy, New York, and after spending Christmas in the lush, quiet tropical paradise of Kaua’i, Hawai’i.
How Did I Land Here, Exactly?
It feels like a miracle to be starting my year in India. I’m here to teach workshops with my spiritual teacher, mentor and friend Nithya Shanti. It is a dream come true.
Just over a year ago, I set the intention to lead workshops in 2010 designed to help others live their dreams. I’ve been working with life coaches and spiritual teachers for years, and am a trained strategic planner, and wanted to use this base of knowledge, skills and tools to help others.
Of course, my writings here on 8womendream are about that as well. It all feels aligned with my life purpose, which I believe is to embody joy and help others find and live their joy.
Yet I never thought this work would bring me to the vibrantly alive, colorful, gorgeously chaotic country of India, with its deeply spiritual culture and history. I feel at home here, like this was meant to be.
Here in Delhi, my host family calls me “Didi,” which means big sister. I feel like a big sister to Saadhvi, 15, who has served as my tour guide, helping me navigate the bustling marketplaces to shop for gifts and traditional Indian clothing, including buying my first sari. Her lovely parents, Renu and Vinit, treat me like family.
It’s all so amazing and beautiful. I still can’t quite believe I’m here.
Planting The Seeds
It was October 2009 when I set the goal of teaching workshops on dream-visioning. One night I lay awake until 1 a.m., reflecting on what I’d teach and who my audience might be.
The very next morning, my friend Bianca emailed me asked me to help her create and teach goal-setting workshops for women in 2010.
Bingo! It felt like the universe had heard my request, and delivered an immediate response. I told Bianca I’d love to make it happen.
We spend a whirlwind few weeks designing the curriculum and marketing the workshops, and on January 31, 2010 we taught a workshop for women called “Your Best Year Yet.” Thirty-five women attended and it was a great success. We’d done it!
Next Steps in the Dream Vision
We led these women through a series of exercises to unleash their long-term dreams and visions. I performed of all these exercises myself as well, creating both a short- and long-term vision for my life.
This vision included teaching several more workshops throughout the year, launching my life-coaching business, and completing my book manuscript, tentatively titled Burning Down the House, in 2010. I accomplished all of these goals.
I worked hard on the book, this blog and the workshops, so I can take credit for making my dreams happen. But it also felt magical, like I was witnessing miracles in action and watching my own life unfold.
Meeting Nithya Shanti
Last July, I had just returned home to Troy after from a three-week vacation with my family in Spain. I hadn’t had time to clean the house before I left, and it felt depressing coming home to clutter: clothes spread out on the bed, papers piled on the kitchen table, a messy bathroom.
I’d had a wonderful time on my trip, but now that I was back in my “real life,” I was feeling bummed. I felt behind on my the book, my house was a mess, my finances needed attention, and I was tired of being single.
In the past, this could have sent me into a spiral that would have kept me feeling low for days or even weeks. Instead I decided I would cheer myself up, rather than wallowing.
I logged onto Facebook and clicked on my inspirational friend Brian Johnson‘s page, figuring he’d have some words of wisdom for me. A quote on his page caught my eye.
Someone had written, “You are such a beautiful light. Thanks for doing such great work in the world.”
I clicked on the profile picture and found myself reading about Nithya Shanti, a spiritual teacher from India, only 32 years old, who used to be a forest meditation monk.
For a whole hour, I read Nithya’s Facebook page and Website with tears streaming down my face, overjoyed to know such a soul existed. Amazingly, he was doing exactly the type of work I envisioned doing in the world, and seemed to embody all the principles and values I wished to embody.
I made a wish to meet him, and then wrote him an email telling him how incredibly inspiring he was to me. I knew he was based in India.
“Do you ever teach in the U.S.?” I asked.
Miracle of miracles, Nithya was leading his first open workshop in the U.S. one week later, just outside New York City, three hours from where I live. Of course, I went!
Amazing How Life Unfolds…
At the time, I had no idea that I’d be here in India less than six months later, teaching with Nithya. I still can’t quite believe it all happened so fast.
First, I set the intention to teach workshops. Then, I made a wish to meet Nithya. Somehow this all resulted in me collaborating with Nithya, here in India.
We’d talked about future collaborations when we met back in July, planting the seeds, yet it still feels amazing to me that they bore fruit so fast. It feels like a miracle.
How to Hold Space for Miracles In Your Own Life
Nithya teaches something called the “Five-Minute Miracle.” It’s a simple practice to help transform any situation in your life.
First, choose a relationship or situation in your life that you’d like to improve.
Step 1: Be at ease, and picture the situation in your mind. Sit quietly and be aware of the sensations in your body. Take a few deep breaths. Now, picture the situation or person in your mind and see it as you imagine it now. Many of us tend to worry about the worst possible outcome. What are you visualizing?
Step 2: Now, imagine the BEST possible outcome. This time, clearly visualize what you’d like to see happen, or how you’d like to interact with someone you love.
Step 3: Feel a positive emotion. Allow yourself to feel how good it feels to know that everything in this situation is working out for the best.
Step 4: Let go. Now, just relax and be at peace, knowing that the best possible outcome is on its way.
Continue this practice for a few minutes daily, replacing any fearful thoughts about the situation with imagining the best possible outcome. Nithya has hundreds of stories of “mini-miracles” that have occurred when people used this process.
You can apply this on a broader scale to your whole life as well. Create a vision for your life that inspires you; believe it’s possible; feel how good it will feel to live your dreams; and let go of how it will map out. Then, take whatever action you need to take now.
Wishing you all a miraculous year of living your dreams in 2011!
Lisa is a freelance writer, consultant and life coach. She has her BA in English and Creative Writing from Princeton and her MPA from Harvard. Lisa recently finished the first draft of her book manuscript, Burning Down the House. She is a lindy hopper, belly dancer and globe-trotter. Her post day is Tuesday.