Belonging

“It is for love that the whole universe sprang into existence, and it is for the sake of love that it is kept going.”  -Meher Baba

It amazes me how deeply I belong in India. You would think, from the outside, that I would feel out of place. There are so many differences: culture, physical appearance, experience, frame of reference, mannerisms, language, etc. Somehow with all of that I am more at home in India, inside myself, than anywhere else I’ve been.

“The need to identify with someone, to feel a part of something, to belong somewhere, is one of our most basic needs. With the exception of self-preservation, no other striving is as compelling as this need, which begins with our caregivers or significant others and extends to family, peer group, culture, nation and world.”  –John Bradshaw, Healing the Shame that Binds You

My first pilgrimage was in February 1998. I came for Meher Baba’s birthday celebration. When I got off the plane in Bombay (Mumbai), I literally wanted to roll around on the ground. I suddenly had roots, a place where I was from. I am sure it was a past life memory. I had returned home.  To say I was blissed out would have been accurate. Up to this point, I never felt like I fit anywhere, not in my family of origin, the town where I was from, our culture…because of this I didn’t really belong inside of my own being. Returning to India gave me a central axis. Don’t get me wrong, I am a westerner, an American, and I appreciate this. If I was meant to be born in India this lifetime I would have been. There are things I need to do and learn and love in my life there. I am grateful for the sacrifices that have been made to enable me to have the freedom that I have, and will forever be grateful for the resources that have brought me this far.

Having a place to come to to get filled up spiritually, to check in with oneself at a deep level, to take stock, is so humanizing. To have no pressures externally for a time, to journal, pray, meditate, stop and stare at things, have space to cry, to move and breathe, man, I tell you, it is where it is at. I had no idea how much I needed my time here. To root in, to feel at one with the earth, to have a sense of boundarylessness with the physical environment, it is heaven. The energy here is ancient, deep, powerful and peaceful.

Initially I had trepidation about taking a month, but now I see it was so wise. It takes time to adjust, and then to unfold from within. I feel areas of my heart that are locked up, afraid to feel, frozen, in need of love. Bit by bit I pray that the defenses soften. I am in a spiritual community with a spiritual focus, and India as a country and culture is spiritually focused and inclined, it is integrated into the society. I am not blind to the difficulties, I see the disparity in the caste system alone, the inequities and injustice. We certainly have our own inequalities in the U.S. I just read in Yoga Journal that 85% of yoga practitioners in the US are white, 85%! For now my time and insulation is a much needed gift and I will cherish it, not trying to solve all the world’s problems in my head.

I will revel in my time here, drink it in, take one day at a time and remain grateful. May we all have moments, times in our lives, precious spaces where we can go and fill up, and empty out. I have the great good fortune to have here. Ultimately though we find it within our own heart.

“There is a beautiful story of a kasturi-mriga, or musk deer, that brings out the nature of all spiritual sadhana (practice). Once, while roaming about and frolicking among hills and dales, the kasturi-mriga was suddenly aware of an exquisitely beautiful scent, the like of which it had never known. The scent stirred the inner depths of its soul so profoundly that it determined to find the source.

So keen was its longing that notwithstanding the severity of cold or the intensity of scorching heat, by day as well as by night, the deer carried on its desperate search for the source of the sweet scent. It knew no fear or hesitation but undaunted went on its elusive search, until at last, happening to lose its foothold on a cliff, it had a precipitous fall resulting in a fatal injury.

While breathing its last, the deer found that the scent that had ravished its heart and inspired all these efforts came from its own navel. This last moment of the deer’s life was its happiest, and there was on its face inexpressible peace.

All spiritual sadhanas of the aspirant are like the efforts of the kasturi-mriga. The final fructification of sadhana involves the termination of the ego-life of the aspirant. At that moment there is the realization that he himself has, in a sense, been the object of all his search and endeavor.

All that he suffered and enjoyed — all his risks and adventures, all his sacrifices and desperate strivings — were intended for achieving true Self-knowledge, in which he loses his limited individuality only to discover that he is really identical with God, who is in everything.

From Meher Baba‘s Discourses, page 264-5.

21 Comments

  1. Katie,
    I enjoyed reading your blog and being part of your journey even if it was just through reading the words and feeling your energy. I am sending blessing for you during your month long pilgrimage.

  2. Katie,
    I feel so extremely fortunate that our paths crossed and I get to practice yoga with you in Naples. You are a wonderful teacher! Thank you for writing this piece. It really spoke to my heart because I, too, often feel like I don’t belong. It’s a difficult feeling. I’m so happy that you have found your place of comfort 💛

    1. Thanks for the love, Peggy. I’m sorry you too feel that way. You belong with me in yoga, you always have a place there and in my heart. ❤️ You are a wonderful person, genuine and compassionate. You bring a lot to the room, wherever you are. Big hugs to you xo

  3. Hi Katie, thank you for 10 minutes of mindfulness. I am so grateful that you shared this, a part of you with me. I am happy for your peace. I love the story of the deer it speaks to me. I feel sad, reflective, peaceful, happy and hopeful.
    today you are my God Box.
    Dear God please help me to find my home and a sense of being settled and having roots. thank you for the influences of people like my friend Katie that help me to recognize the peace and serenity in giving my needs and desires over to you while I “do the footwork”. Namaste Katie <3

    1. Molly, beautiful, thanks for your openness!! I can feel your heart right here with me. Love you and may my prayers link up with yours and you receive whatever your heart may need. Honored to be your God Box. 💋

  4. Talking of spiritual sadhana, I am sure you are doing your own at this point by preaching the whole world is one attitude. I loved the way you praised your connection with India while on the other hand, equally appreciating your being as an American and a Westerner. Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam (whole world is one family).

    I am thankful for having read this wonderful piece!

    -Aswin

  5. Thanks for sharing Katie! I am so happy that you got to make this journey, in both aspects of the word…
    Namaste.

  6. I love your blog! I’m so happy that you are on the sacred ground of Meherabad. Thank you for sharing your pilgrimage.

    1. Jai Baba, Jeff,

      Thank you! Yes, so wonderful to be here. Also, I bought this book, “Yin and Yang Nutrition for Dogs” while in U.S. before I left and made a recipe for Teddy. He got better right away. I cooked and froze him enough food (doggy casseroles) to last him while I am away and his health has improved so much, no problems. He was eating healthy food before, but wasn’t agreeing with him and he wasn’t getting what he needed nutritionally. That book and the dog info is really amazing and a must have. I wish I’d have had it years ago. Such a gift from Baba. Now I can be here worry free, well mostly, lol!

      Hugs in Baba, will think of you in the Tomb, Katie

      1. Jai Baba! Great to hear that Teddy is doing so well. We have also changed Murphy’s diet recently, mixing a little of her very good kibble with food we prepare–chicken and other meats, veggies, turmeric, etc. She absolutely loves it. Thank you for thinking of me in the Tomb.

  7. Katie, Bob shared a link to your post which I found both helpful and inspiring. I’m glad you’re ‘home’ for now. I’m also glad you call FL your home. Happy to hear about Teddy’s health. Hugs, Judy

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