In the weeks before I left for my trip to India I met a man in San Francisco named Josh.
We immediately connected over our passion for music, tea, yoga, and astrology. We spent long mornings chatting together in the three days I had in the city, and in the weeks that followed, we continued our conversation through letters and emails.
I knew I could have had a promising romance in the States if I stayed, but I chose to follow my dreams, bought my ticket to India and left for Amma’s ashram in Kerala.
To my surprise, two weeks after my arrival, I found a message waiting from Josh in my inbox:
“I bought a flight to visit you!! I’ll be arriving in just a few weeks.”
I was flattered, but also shocked — “You’re traveling halfway around the world to see me??”
I had enjoyed our romantic emails in the weeks before I left, but I knew in my heart I was making the trip to India for myself and no one else. I had so much to discover there and part of me knew I needed to do it on my own.
But then I thought of leaving the safety of the ashram premises (where I had been safely meditating). I hadn’t been outside of the ashram yet and I had no idea how I would feel navigating the trains and buses around the country by myself. “Wouldn’t it be nice to have this man with you for a sense of security?”
I knew it was safer, more secure, and I was scared of the unknown.
So I replied, “I’m excited you’re coming!” Over the days that followed we talked about riding an elephant into the sunset together and watching the full moon rise over the beach on his birthday...
A week before Josh arrived, I felt a strong desire to go out exploring on my own. I took a train to a nearby beach town and every step of the way surprised myself at how at home I felt making all the decisions by myself.
On the beach a huge elephant walked by on a nearby path. I went closer to admire it when a man leading it asked, “Do you want to go for a ride on Ganesha?”
“A ride? Me, by myself? Up there?” I thought. I remembered my dreams of riding an elephant with Josh tightly holding my hand as we watched the sunset.
Then for a moment I imagined myself up there on the elephant all by myself, with the breeze on my face, looking down at the world around me. It felt liberating.
Josh probably wouldn’t mind if I did it on my own, I thought. “Yes, please!”
I ran closer and waited while one of the Indian men moved his hand over the side of Ganesha’s face and whispered a few words in his ear. He patted Ganesha’s front leg and the elephant bent down. The Indian man advised me to step on his hoof so he could hoist me up.
I followed his directions and found myself belly down on top of the elephant trying to swing my leg over to the other side. The little hairs on his enormous body brushed against my face.
When I successfully swung my leg to the other side, I sat up slowly, finding my balance. The Indian men were laughing and clapping as I looked around, a little shocked by the new perspective.
The ground was a good ten feet away. I ran my hands over his grey, wrinkly skin. As I found my composure, the shakiness I felt at first began to dissipate.
I sat with poise and confidence like an Indian queen greeting the villagers of her kingdom.
Then I thought, "I don’t actually need Josh to be here with me to feel safe." I realized a big part of the reason I had initially been so happy to have Josh come visit me was because I had been afraid of being on my own.
The prospect of having a man with me while I traveled to a new country felt safer. But now that I had found my own way from the ashram to this town, I felt fine.
I felt more than fine—I felt confident in myself.
I didn’t need Josh to be there with me to feel safe. I didn’t need him there to ride the elephant, and I didn’t necessarily need him there to travel with me around India.
I still felt excited to see him, but an old, limiting belief had been lifted. I no longer felt a need to depend on a man outside of myself.
The more steps the elephant took, the more I realized I wasn’t carrying any fear at all, just excitement.
I felt awake, present, and invincible.
I realized that doing the things that scared me brought me fully into the present moment. Once I was doing it, there didn’t seem to be any more fear.
Even more than that, I realized in doing the things that scared me, I walked away with more confidence. I reminded myself, The only way to get rid of my fears, is to simply go out and do what I'm afraid of.
I had spent so much of my life in fear. I was afraid to speak up in class, afraid to travel on my own, I was even afraid of driving on highways. I always wondered, "How do I gain more confidence?"
I was so busy avoiding the things that scared me that I had never learned the pathway to more confidence was simply doing what scared me.
When I did that, the fear became more familiar, and less scary. Each fear I faced gave me more confidence to face another.
Deep within myself, I knew if I were to travel on my own for the rest of my time in India, I’d be okay. I needed to ride the elephant by myself to discover that.
I lowered down closer to the elephant’s ear and whispered, “Thank you Ganesha for clearing this path for me. Thank you for this new wisdom.”
To find out what happened next you’ll have to keep reading in my book. Stay tuned to find out how you can receive an early copy...
In the meantime, I’m curious, what fears or limiting beliefs have you been holding? And what action could you take to live more fully beyond your fears? I'd love to hear in the comments below.