Going on a journey-within!
Nikita Mukherjee talks about her passion for travelling, which takes her on a ‘trip’ to the Divine
Chapter 1: The beginning
It was the year 2016. I went with a couple of my friends to Rishikesh to celebrate my birthday as well as rejuvenate ourselves and take a small break from our mundane and hectic lives. As I crossed Haridwar and entered the borders of Rishikesh, a cloud of tranquillity and serenity engulfed me. The air of Rishikesh calmed me down and made me experience something I had never felt before. I started feeling really light, as if all my problems and worries left through an exit gate in my body. I had a consistent body pain from earlier which seemed to disappear the moment I soaked in the salubrious mountain air. However, the time I truly felt magical and surreal was when I halted at this bridge, positioned over the mighty river Ganga, and sat at the edge of a cliff nearby to admire the magnificent Dhauladhar range in front of me. It was at this moment thatI cried. I was overwhelmed with emotions because I finally felt free and experienced a divine power so strong, it cannot be described in mere words. After soaking in the holiness of the place for literally an hour, I continued my journey further.
Chapter 2: The divine road trip
In 2019, I was going through a really hard time in my life, both professionally and personally. I had been depressed for months and nothing seemed to get better, no matter how much I tried to be patient and hardworking. So, when my friends suggested that I take a small break for a while, I quickly jumped at the opportunity to redeem myself. We took a road trip from New Delhi to Lansdowne, Uttarakhand. Lansdowne was a small place which we managed to explore within one day, and since we had a few more days on our hands, we decided to go to Devprayag via Pauri Garhwal. As we were cruising on the road and enjoying the scenic beauty of the Dhauladhar range, something suddenly hit me at that moment, and I asked my friend who was driving, to stop at a place from where the whole valley was visible. I went outside and started gazing into the beautiful void in front of me. Suddenly, out of nowhere, I felt as if I had finally got the answers to all my unsolved questions and dilemmas. It felt like I was reborn again with an enthusiasm to never stop anymore. I felt a divine connection with the mountains, as if someone were calling out to me and telling me that everything is going to get better and I just have to keep going no matter what happens. Support and assurance which I didn’t get from any friend or family member at that point of time, came in the form of a divine, invisible friend.
These two accounts of my experiences with something unexplainable and absolutely divine made me realise what it is that truly makes me happy and makes me who I am. It made me realise that travelling is food for my soul in this selfish and callous world, and that someone out there is looking after me and all of us. Since then, I live to travel and unplug myself whenever I can, to nurture my soul and connect with something which is larger than life itself.
The enlightened New Age wanderer
In recent years, travelling has emerged as a huge trend. Every second person hangs loose, once in a while, to disconnect themself from their hectic and busy schedules and give themself some well-deserved quality time. Some people travel to explore the unknown while others travel to reconnect with themselves—something they have lost in the hustle and bustle of their robotic existence. People nowadays prefer travelling solo over travelling in groups because it allows them to spend some alone time with themselves as well as avoid the unnecessary clutter of conflicting thoughts which is very common while travelling in large groups. Solo travelling not only allows an individual to explore the world but also makes them question and discover their true self without any judgements. “The journey and the experience of travelling solo makes me really happy. It takes me away from all the tensions of my day-to day-life, and it’s a very good way to know more about myself,” says Mayank Kwatra, a freelance consultant at Nona Lifestyle, Gurugram.
On the other hand, many people prefer to travel in groups as it allows them to bond with different kinds of people and practise understanding, decision-making, and empathy. “I can’t say much about spiritual happiness or awakenings, but I do come out mature after each trip. My trips to the Himalayas twice with two completely different, sizable groups last year—with their various levels of bonding and empathy—helped in coping with life. I think different trips mould you in certain ways,” says Biswajit Bhattacharya, senior content writer at MobileAppDaily, an online media house.
For many people, experiencing new cultures or globetrotting to another country is the perfect spark to trigger spiritual growth. Travel can heighten curiosity about different spiritual practices as well. Sometimes, a long road trip or a secluded retreat away from home is the missing key that finally unlocks the new spiritual quest we’ve been hoping for. One account that inspired many to set out on their own spiritual journeys through travel was Eat, Pray, Love by New York Times best-selling author Elizabeth Gilbert. Through an extended trip that took her to Italy, India, and Bali, Gilbert began to uncover who she truly was without the labels of success that had always defined her life.
Travel also broadens our perspectives. When we travel, we interact with new and different kinds of people than those we are normally used to. This one factor ignites change in us simply because we start to see the world from the perspectives of others. We view different ways of doing things. “When I meet different people while travelling and get to know their culture, it allows me to learn something which is completely new to me. It’s an enlightening experience that is unmatchable and showers me with some positive vibes, which keeps me highly motivated in life,” remarks Mr Kwatra.
As we incorporate what we learn into what we already know, our minds start expanding, enabling us to understand everyone’s perspective. When we begin to understand and empathise with those who are not like us, we become more compassionate and loving. And, through increased understanding and compassion, we recognise our interconnectedness with all that is around us. This realisation can offer a greater sense of meaning and purpose to our lives.
Travelling also helps us learn to value experience over things. One foundational idea that is present in many spiritual traditions is that we must not become too attached to things, especially material possessions. We are told to live in the moment, seize the day, and learn from every experience and move on to the next. “Travelling to me is like reading John Keats; the urge to skedaddle from my routine and enter a zone of consciousness. Like the bard’s youthful verses, I sway with the highs and lows in my odysseys. And the enlightenment that comes in so many forms—the culture, the people, the markets, the monuments, the sounds, the smells, the vibe—everything is a trinket of enlightenment for me,” says Mr Bhattacharya.
Travel helps foster this teaching because we are on the move, going from one place to the next; nothing is permanent. It offers to teach us to ‘live lightly’ and relish experiences and relationships more than material things.
Travelling—the gateway to spirituality
In modern times, being a spiritually aware person is not really easy. We live in a materialistic society where the majority of the population are mostly bothered about their economic status rather than their true, inner happiness. Our fast-paced lives have distanced all of us from connecting to our inner, true selves. Naturally, the fact cannot be denied that money gives us happiness, but what people these days mostly tend to forget is their true inner calling which money can’t fulfil. Amidst all this materialism, dogmatism, and an insensitive society, a person will naturally tend to forget their inner purpose and realise what it is that makes them deeply, soulfully, and genuinely happy. What is that one thing in the entire universe that can give them the true, inner happiness which even money can’t buy?
My editor once said, “Spirituality, in the simplest terms, means knowing our true self and attaining inner happiness.” Now spiritual growth is a journey which differs from person to person. Some people meditate while others seek knowledge. Some practise devotion while others experience happiness through seva (service). Whatever it is, spirituality has always held the key to unlock our existence’s true nature and its purpose, and receive immense, pure happiness.
A lot of people travel to feel truly happy from within, something we fail to experience in this fast-paced, materialistic world. It makes us connect with our inner selves and is a means to disconnect ourselves from this selfish and cruel world. “I travel for the sake of my mental health and peace. The feeling I get when I go for a long bike ride or even when I am away from the chaotic mess of the city is incomparable. My soul comes alive!” says Mr Shubhangshuk Ghosh, senior sales associate, Personiv, Gurugram.
Travelling gives us the ability to think about the deeper things in life and expands our perspective about the possibilities of the unknown. It also makes us realise our purpose in this world and helps us grow as an individual, as it is the best way of practising self-care. Meditating in the mountains or someplace peaceful is extremely therapeutic and rejuvenates us deeply.
“For me, spiritual happiness means inner peace, which we get after attaining some meaningful answers. I travel to move out and understand things and people who are out of my circumference. It gives me an amazing opportunity to know many things which small towns and villages have curled up in their cultures. Experiencing things, being a wanderer, makes one the wisest. It always enlightens my soul,” says Himanshi Gupta, copywriter and social media marketer, Galaxy Advertising and Events.
Spirituality is about looking for meaning in life. It’s being able to experience connectedness with something bigger than ourselves. Both spirituality and travel require us to get out of our comfort zones and become aware of more than just our typical daily routines. Apart from just reaching a destination, the process of travel itself carries an inherent ability to change people and their level of joy. “In 2018, around Christmas, I went to McLeod Ganj which is famous for the monasteries. As a normal tourist, I visited various monasteries and met monks. Their perspective on life is completely different from ours. It gave me many reasons to question my struggles and pains. It was then thatI felt that travelling really affects your spiritualself because, in this world, nobody talks about the soul,” continues Ms Gupta.
Mr Bhattacharya reminisces about his first trip to the Himalayas with his friends back in 2017, which had nurtured him a lot. “It was full of leaps and bounds, both literally and figuratively. My ascent of the Kheerganga range, which is at 10,000 ft approx., made me face a different reality of life. While embarking on the 12-14 km trek, I had my moments of giving up and beating a hasty retreat. But something, like the ‘inner voice’ they keep reiterating in movies, kept saying that it’s a matter of just miles; the journey at the end will be a fascinating period. I followed it, and yes, it was as I had dreamt it to be. Maybe my imagination never ran that wild before.”
In this world where everyone is busy surviving and attending to their materialistic needs, travelling is the perfect escape to feed our inner self. So, bon voyage,and may your travels transform you!
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