Spiritual Backpacking: Travel To the Centre of Your Soul by Neeta Jhaveri
Even when everything’s going well in life, if you feel something is missing or you need to do more with your life, a spiritual journey could be what the doc prescribed… a journey of evolution, a journey into yourself. Thriive WSP and Tarot Card Reader Neeta Jhaveri also organizes spiritual journeys and one evening we decided to ask her to tell us more about them, especially for first-timers.
Thriive: Neeta, what is a spiritual journey?
Neeta Jhaveri: It’s about energy. When we go on vacations, we are used to a form of travelling which mostly involves a hectic spree of sight-seeing and shopping. This is completely the opposite. There is a lot of energy but it is focused within. You meditate, a lot. You travel, meet like-minded people, imbibe the culture of the place but most of the time is spent in silence. Much of it involves letting go of the clutter that’s in the mind. Also, you kind of find your own self with so many people. You feel that you belong. And the best thing is that one can undertake these journeys even with one’s family.
Thriive: What is the difference between a religious journey and a spiritual one?
Neeta Jhaveri: In India, religion is deeply entwined with a person’s daily life. One of the things they recommend very highly is religious journeys or what we often call as pilgrimages. These are mostly ritual-centric with well-defined rules and regulations. Washing off of sins seems to be an overriding aspect of these visits. Spiritual journeys, on the other hand, are more about going with the flow and finding your own answers. The long periods of silence and contemplation, that characterize a spiritual journey, help you to connect with your Higher Self.
Thriive: For someone who feels they’re not yet ready for spirituality, how can they prepare for such a journey?
Neeta Jhaveri: Go with an open mind. This is the best way of approaching anything new in life, and that includes spiritual journeys. If you feel you’re not ready to go alone, go with a group of people. Check out the organized tours which include your primary interest: If you are a water person, you might want to go a tour near a beach. If you are an adventurous person, explore the possibilities of a trip to the mountains. Rock climbing can be meditative as you bring in all your attention to the act. Take baby steps. Go with your personality, your health and your physical strength. Build yourself up a little more every time you undertake such a journey. Begin with guided tours that include guided seminars and meditations as part of the package. In the beginning you need not even travel out of the city. Start with a nearby place. Do it for two days. Like a warm up. Inculcate patience and easy-going-ness. Some things might work for you or they might not. But one always comes out with some benefits. You might go with pre-conceived notions but might come back with totally different insights and experiences. Once you go through a few of them, you can then seek off on your own.
Thriive: What according to you is “open-mindedness”?
Neeta: Respecting the other person and their choices. You will see a lot of it in the case of food choices. If you are vegetarian and uncomfortable to be in a place where non-vegetarian food too is served, don’t join that retreat. Choose what works for you but if you don’t get what you want, accept the alternatives as the free will of the other person.
Thriive: Are there any physical and non-physical preparations that one can make before embarking on a trip of this sort?
Neeta: The most important thing is comfortable attire. You are going to spend a lot of time in Nature. If you feel too hot or too cold, or your footwear is uncomfortable, you will not be able to concentrate. Check out the place for availability of the food you eat. Organised tours take care of everything. Prepare to eat light food. Not just your body but even your energy-body will feel lighter and aid you in meditation.
Thriive: Which are the places in India which are popular for such spiritual journeys?
Neeta: It depends on what you are inclined towards. Goa is a very popular retreat. Once upon a time it was the hub of hippie culture. Today it has many yoga retreats that provide a soothing experience. As I mentioned above, if you have an adventurous streak you can attend retreats in Ladakh and Rishikesh. Bhutan is wonderful as are the monasteries in North India.
Thriive: What inspires somebody to seek out an experience of this sort?
Neeta: Usually when you are down and out, you feel like things are not working, you’re always seeking answers. You go to a Tarot card reader, and say, “Healer, help me! Help me!” They will help you as much as they can and then give you recommendations to go to the next level. You feel like, “Okay, there’s a group meditation, let me go for that.” You go and find it amazing and then you decide to sign up for a workshop. Maybe this workshop is somewhere abroad, or in another city in India. You feel motivated to give it a shot. And this is how the journey carries on.
Thriive: What has been your most memorable journey till now?
Neeta: Two of them stand out immediately in my mind. This was two years ago when three of my friends and I went to Sedona. We had our own van. We met a woman who would drive the van and also guide us for the meditations. We stayed at the hotel but every day we drove to the river where we would meditate. We participated in shamanistic rituals using fire energy. We climbed a mountain that was an energy vortex. We then drove to the Grand Canyon. At one time we were in the middle of nowhere, with only one Inn. We stayed there. Between travelling, manifestation, meditation and enjoying the place, with a schedule we had made ourselves, it has been a memorable experience.
At another time, I took my husband to Egypt and made him meditate in the middle of the Pyramid. The energy is the strongest there since it is considered to be the Centre of the Universe. From being a non-believer he turned into a hard-core believer. He still tells me, “Neeta, that was the best trip of my life.”
Thriive: Thank you, Neeta, for sharing your insights and knowledge. Much appreciated.
Neeta: It’s been a pleasure.