I recently had the great blessing of being part of an Ananda Sangha pilgrimage to Babaji’s cave near Ranikhet. A few weeks before our departure, the pilgrims received a preparation letter which said – “You are already on pilgrimage”. These words caught my attention and I tried to tune in to the journey that had already begun. However with my mental and behavior habit patterns, it was difficult to do so successfully.
Earlier this year, I attended a New Year’s Day retreat, where we were asked to write down all the little messages we had received from when we woke up that morning. Most of us were surprised at how many messages we’d already received. Had we not done this introspective exercise, we wouldn’t have even noticed! I realised now how much of the pilgrimage I might miss if I didn’t slow down, relax into the journey, and enjoy every moment! As we began the pilgrimage, with chanting, stories from the Autobiography of a Yogi, practicing japa, and wonderful conversations with like-minded people, I was able to tune into many subtle messages along the way!
We’re all pilgrims in life, and one thing I realized is that the journey can be so much more important than always focusing on the destination. It was not just about reaching the cave, but how I approached the journey towards the cave. I experienced so much joy in slowing down. Reaching the cave was interesting too! I’d built a lot of self-pressure about how my meditation should be, but realised half way through that all I needed to do was to stay open and present in that moment. That shift made the experience so much more enjoyable.
It seems clearer now that if we’re able to enjoy the journey, more joy will radiate outward to all whom we meet! Striving to continue to deepen this experience since our return, an affirmation by Swami Kriyananda has been helping me: “I welcome everything that comes to me as an opportunity for further growth.” I move forward with the prayer to stay gratefully open to every opportunity that God presents, one conscious step at a time!