8 Things to Do in India

India.bartnikowski.DalaiLama768x1024Image

You won’t be reading about the Taj Mahal here. Now, I’m not saying don’t go. But I’d like to inspire you to have experiences in India you can’t have anywhere else but in India.

India confounds me, trips me up, shakes me to the core, and blasts my preconceived ideas every time I show up here. It’s a good thing. My heart is drawn to the Himalayas and this is where I have spent all of my 4 visits here; for months at a time in the northern most states of Ladakh, Himachel Pradesh and Sikkim.

This is where I am called to go.

Don’t go to India for less than a month like I did on my first trip. You’ll soon see that you need at least 6 months to dive into this vast country. But don’t see it all – pick any one of these 8 things to do and you could easily stay in that place for many weeks as I’ve done and I never felt it was too much time in one location.

You realize how much India affects you after you leave her. Just like an old lover. You realize how good they are after its over. And once that happens you’ll keep coming back for more.

I still haven’t seen the Taj Mahal… it’s on my list but I never seem to get to it.

Here’s what has inspired me to stay in India and discover her secrets. Enjoy the journey, you don’t know where it will lead you but that’s most of the fun!

Image

 Tikse Monastery in Ladakh

High in the ethers of the Himalayas is this ancient monastery. Just down the street is Hemis monastery, so old that even Jesus visited it. You can stay here at Tikse (near Leh) for about $6 a night and the view is drop dead incredible. You even get a bed. The monks do their morning chanting and you can join them or not. Food at the monastery isn’t bad either. Go and go now, this place has a celestial feeling that flows through your veins. Your feet just might lift off the ground. See my video here.

Image

Go to the International Yoga Festival at Parmarth Ashram. Its the first week of March every year and has a full line up of amazing teachers from all over the world. I have gone to the festival twice. It changed my life. You’ll enjoy being on the banks of the Ganges River in the holy section of Rishikesh, in Ram Jula. Saints and sages have walked here. You can too.

Go to the Golden Temple in Amritsar,

Dharamsala to see the Dalai Lama and

Sikkim, a Northern state of India filled with forests, on the backside of Mount Everest.

Check it out.

Image

The Golden Temple in Amritsar will knock your eyes out. Here it is in all her midnight glory. Yes that is really gold leaf!

Go see a teaching of the Dalai Lama. ImageYou will be blessed by his love radiance and we all need that.

See more photography of the Dalai Lama and get it for your own delicious projects.

Want More Travel Advice? Read Vagabond Travel Photography Mag for your ipad and iphone in the itunes store. Try out a complimentary issue.

Be inspired to dream big. Read reviews and see screenshots on Vagabond. Find out how you can be free and discover the world. Go here and choose current subscriber. Put in this code and download a free issue.

MaryGift1

Here’s the latest issue available now.

Stay tuned for more world adventures and living your life in the most wild and wonderful way.

I travel the world shooting, writing, and teaching and you can do it too.

You can comment here or write me at [email protected], I send out newsletters about once a month to update my students, friends, and colleagues.

Join us by getting my free ebook below. Or just write me.

Get my FREE ebook: Secrets of Stunning Photography here.

The Truth About Meditation in India

Image

Now that I am immersed in no electricity, no TV, no wifi, and no cheese either I have a different perspective. I cannot dash out and get a rich cup of brewed coffee right now. If I want that I have to walk far into the sunshine on a winding path through rice fields with buffalo plowing the earth. I don’t want it that badly.

I have been staying at the Thosamling Buddhist Institute for Women and I have not left this sacred soil in 10 days. There is no traffic, no tooting horns, no crappy music, and no yelling. It’s Slow Here.

When I am in the USA I am reminded that Results and Speed are what matter. There is no process. We have to achieve and be successful Right Now. But try telling that to these butterfly pupas – they are on their way to being butterflies. They will break out and fly. In their own time.

We forget that.

Before I got my first publishing contract for a book I wrote, Everyday Naked, I wrote for 5 years and didn’t tell anyone about it. I just wrote.

When I wanted to show my writing to someone other than my dog I put together a book proposal and went to a writers retreat where I met my publisher.

Interesting, how a few people reacted when I told them about the book being published. Most people were happy for me but I also heard, “Did you know someone?” or “I didn’t know you wrote” which means I didn’t know so how could you be an author all of a sudden.

Because it wasn’t all of a sudden. They didn’t see me in my room writing every day being in my pupa stage. When it was time to bust out I flew out of my cocoon. But I was in there for 5 years writing every day.

And now after a bazillion years of meditating, (OK it’s been 25 years) I still am learning how to do it. Maybe when you try it you’ll get to a more profound level in less time but I’m only just seeing that some how what I was doing before was daydreaming while meditating and I’m very good at daydreaming.

So I’m still in my pupa stage when it comes to meditation. And mindfulness. But one thing I am learning is to be more gentle with myself, and less goal-minded which is difficult to drop. Why?

Because we are supposed to be PhD’s in everything we attempt and this kind of Western logic takes a while to drop. So the photo of the pupas helps me. Every one of us is a butterfly in the making. We’re all in this together – we’re all pupas. It’s easier for me to see this in Asia where I can happily live without a Mercedes Benz and have a more relaxed attitude about time.

You don’t have to go to the Himalayas to see this but it sure helped me to go without all my comforts to start to see that we are all the same. And that’s why when the Dalai Lama is out teaching in the world he doesn’t just talk to the luminaries like Richard Gere, he talks to the hotel staff, the old people waiting for hours to catch a glimpse of him, and to the babies who don’t even know His Holiness they are just playing outside while their parents wait for him. I’ve seen him do it. And it makes my heart glad.

Image

I was blessed and grateful to be at the teachings this year in Dharamsala, India and to have a press pass to photograph the Dalai Lama. The best part of being there was that he directly teaches me to be happy being a pupa, not just the butterfly. By his example watching him interact with people he shows how to Go Slow and not be Fast. He seems to forget his bodyguards pressing in protecting him and reaches out to people and holds their hands reminding me to do the same.

Butterfly on Green Leaf

Butterfly on Green Leaf