It was January 2001, and a naïve 17-year-old English girl arrived alone at Delhi airport. The short taxi ride from the airport to the hotel inspired 2 hours of notes in her diary. This place was totally unlike anything she had experienced before… India. This trip, almost 15 years ago to the day, inspired a deep-seated love affair with India, and here I will share with you why.
This girl had everything going for her in England: a place to study medicine at a top university in London, supportive and loving network of friends and family and various hobbies on the go. Yet she had always thought that there was more to be discovered out there in the big wide world, and India was the place that showed her just how true that was.
I have heard it said that there are things that we know we know, things that we know that we don’t know, and things that we don’t know that we don’t know. I didn’t have any idea of the worlds that India would show me. As a child, I had always had a fascination with the paranormal: ghosts, UFOs, anything that seemed beyond our comprehension.
I had been brought up with a limited amount of Christianity, but it never quite resonated. This trip to India introduced me to the world of meditation and the possibility for individuals to reach dimensions that we don’t generally perceive with our five senses. I heard stories of people being buried alive for ten days, walking on hot coals, levitating.
I heard stories of the incredible power of meditation to transcend normal states of being. I had had no experience of my own to confirm my belief in these states, but these stories resonated: I felt convinced that we can transcend our usual material state. Arriving in Benares was a defining moment. It was the auspicious time of the Maha Kumbh Mela, where around 60 million people made pilgrimages to Allahabad to bathe in acts of devotion. Many had also travelled to the holy city of Benares, so the ghats were full of saffron clothes tied into makeshift shelters for the thousands of sadhus.
The simplicity of their lifestyle, devotion to their asceticism and sheer numbers that had made long and difficult journeys to attend was awe-inspiring to my western eye. I was also particularly enchanted by a man meditating on the ghats, under the fiery sun with all the hustle and bustle of an Indian city going on all around him. Despite all this, he was exuding such an intense peace and calmness. How was that possible?
|Milli with Narvijay Yadav, Founder, Specttrum PR at Chandigarh|
Beyond the mental level of fascination, there was something else: I felt something I had never felt before, something not quite tangible. Burning incense in my room that night, wearing my newly acquired salwar kameez and looking in the mirror, I have a very distinct memory of knowing that something had changed inside. Perhaps it was an excitement at realising new ways of living life. Perhaps the intensity of the devotional energy was powerful enough to affect even the un-initiated.
The intrigue remained, yet I was unaware of how to plunge into the world of meditation. After completing another 6 months travelling throughout Asia, I returned to England and began studying medicine. However, I had become so fascinated with the music, culture and beliefs inherent in Asia that studying these became the priority. While learning about the spirituality imbued in the raga system, and practicing the sarangi (which ironically I discovered on returning to London), I met a Rajastani prince! As we embarked upon an intense relationship, the sense of other-worldliness that kept the worlds of meditation at arms length until then, transformed into a divine gift.
He enlightened me to 'Autobiography of a Yogi', Osho and the like. His very being was so open-hearted, carefree and un-attached: he led me along the path and I gladly followed. We returned to India. This second trip, 4 years on from the first, was again life-changing. The Dynamic and Aum meditations at Osho’s ashram unlocked hidden compartments within me. I began to understand, through experience rather than on a mental level, the bliss, joy and unity that can be reached through meditation.
The door had been unlocked, I had been shown the way and it was up to me to keep that joy alive inside. Although I know that the connectedness and unity is somewhere within me all the time, as it is with all of us, I have India to thank for showing me the hidden depths inside in the first place. I will keep returning as India has a special ability to show me my true self.
* Milli Moonstone is a British Singer, Actor and Performer. www.moonstone. As a songwriter, instrumentalist and model, Milli has toured throughout the UK, Europe, the Middle East, and India with her unique brand of spirituality inspired folk music. www.myspace.com/
millimoonstone / email@example.com