When I planned my trip to United States in March, I never envisioned everything that manifested. At that point in time there were two important reasons for my visit: winding up life in US to facilitate a long uninterrupted stay in India and secondly, presenting at three conferences were my papers were accepted. Of course, I knew with my book getting published, I will do book readings wherever I go but nothing was set in stone.
I was going to stay with friends throughout. In fact, I have definitely made some of my friends angry that I didnot stay with them. I sincerely apologize for that. My four months got so packed with so many new learnings, experiences and adventures – I did not have one dull moment. Just wanted to share some of my moments. Here are the key sections in case you dont want to read everything.
Hanging out with Friends, Cities/States I visited, Workshops I taught, Conferences I presented, Certification/Training I attended, Surprising Highlight of my trip
Hanging out with Friends – No words can ever describe the deep gratitude I feel for my friends in the US – the abundance of love I received from them.
Hung out with Divine-new born babies (from most recent to 8 months back), spend one of the most memorable hangout with Kaeya, Syone and Gayatri which included visit to the Oakland Zoo, old memories refreshed with Meenakshi and Vijay, brief yet the sweetest time with Krishnan and Satwik, visited and painted at the ocean with Bill and Brittney, re-connected with my school friend-Kailash & his family, met my engineering junior (Manisha) and senior (Kiran), celebrated the 98th birthday of my fav grandma Toshi, laughed -spoke for hours with Irene (we can go on and on), the warmth and loving presence of my dearest sister-Supriya and her beautiful family, hung out/stayed/talked/shared/learned with Dianne (my US Amma), sneaked into the Santa Cruz home for David’s surprise birthday party, enjoyed the magical abode of Bill-Embo-Tikka in Chicago, the unexpectedly presented relishing hours of travel with Aparna and Purvi, the enthusiastic intimate sisterhood of my divine cohort, the coming together of old memories when Sachin, Purvi, Aaron and I met for dinner, co-teaching YES! with my YES! student-Diego Robles, ate at some of my favorite restaurants with friends, long hours talking into the night at Irenes home with Steven/Wendy/ Aparna/Karen/Brittney, Goodbye gathering with friends just a day before I left at Supriyas home (the unexpected visit of Sheila Rad) – the list is endless. Of course, I have definitely missed mentioning many such blissful moments!! They are forever etched in my heart!!
As a child I always dreamed to have friends from all over the world and now I can say I do. In fact, I made many more wonderful friends in this trip – in fact an entire family of friends (my footzoning/catch the fire family).
This journey of amalgamation of friendships from different cultures began in 2001 when I first took the Art of Living course, so the one person who I am extremely grateful for removing my barrier of connecting with the human kind 🙂 is His Holiness Sri Sri Ravi Shankar!
States and Cities I travelled:
Northern California: Many fabulous cities of North through South of the Greater San Francisco Bay Area, Washington: Seattle, Whidbey Island, Illinois: Highland Park, Chicago, Urbana-Champagne, Texas: San Antonio, North Carolina: Boone, Montana: Paradise Valley, Bozeman
Workshops I Taught: Art Excel, YES, Happiness and Sahej Samadhi.
One of the greatest blessings and honor of my life is that I am an instructor of the Art of Living foundation. So anywhere I travel on this planet I always pray that I have an opportunity to give fellow beings the opportunity to taste the fullness of their Self.
As soon as I got there, thanks to Priya, I got to teach Art Excel for thirty 8-11 year olds: Yummy experience!! then taught the Happiness program in one of my fav city (for the friends I have): Modesto, and lastly co-taught YES! with Clay and Diego to 47 teenagers in the divine presence of His Holiness Sri Sri Ravishankar. Best part was when Gurudev came to meet with all the youth age ranging from 5 to 18 years. The five year olds were uncontrolable as they all rushed like a mob to hug Gurudev. I have never witnessed anything like that. Then while we got them to somehow sit down, there were still these few 5 year olds who would make an occasional run to G, touch him and give him a hug. Gurudev was so encouraging and just patiently kept giving hugs. Then he took questions from the youth and was quite happy at the questions they asked. In fact, most teenagers questioned were about ‘stress from parents’. 🙂
Another beautiful, simple and profound program gifted by Gurudev is Sahej Samadhi Meditation. In spite of completing my Sahej teaching training in 2010, my masters schedule and other life situations prevented me from teaching the program. This trip I was determined to fulfil my requirements. I got to observe two sahej courses. Then I co-taught two sahej courses with Neelam. One of the bext experiences.
As a teacher I always feel that I learn the most at the end of every workshop I teach/facilitate.
My Research Presentation
I had the opportunity to present in various avenues. Even more importantly, learn about the phenomenal research happening in the indigenous community to reclaim their wisdom. Almost all the indigenous people of the world have been victims of colonization, christianization, capitalization. Today they are all seeking to go back to their roots, decolonize their knowledge, speak the language of their ancestors, sing their songs, wear their traditional outfits! I would say India might be one of those rare countries in the world where indigenous population stll exists in majority (while all attempts is full on to change that). Most other countries people have either been converted into Islam or Christianity: thus cutting them off forever from their ancestral memory/wisdom. If you don’t believe me, research it!! I met so many indigenous daughters from Taiwan, China, Central and South America, Europe, Australia, Canada!! I will write a more detailed blog on what I learned from these conferences. It high time India and Indians woke up from our colonized mindset.
1. Conferences I presented
– Matriarchal Conference, Mar 27, San Antionio, Texas
– Third National ASWM Conference, http://womenandmyth.org/,
Mar 28-30, San Antonio, Texas
Theme: Borderlands: Scholarship as Pilgrimage and Mystery
– 10th International Congress of Qualitative Inquiry, http://www.icqi.org/,
May 21-21, Urbana-Champagne, University of Illinois
Theme: Qualitative Inquiry and the Politics of Research
My research and stories of the grandmothers were appreciated by everyone. Inf act there was a longing to hear more. I would like to inspire more daughters of India to become researchers, and present in world settings the stories of their ancestors. Daughters because our stories are poorly represented even in Indian History and those that are have a male voice to it.
2. Book Reading organized
My friends, my chair, my university – everyone hosted simple intimate settings of book readings which gave women and men to engage in deep conversations around sexuality, gender, spirituality and culture! I loved every single one of them. Thanks to all of you for hosting them.
– Anjali Vishwanath, Menlo Park (CA), Irene Yamane Fremont (CA), Seema Batawia, Sunnyvale (CA), Dianne Jennett, Palo Alto (CA), Emily Lifton & Bill Herman, Chicago (IL) and Sofia University (Palo Alto, CA) – Hoping I havent missed any
I also had the opportunity to attend another phenomenal – 42nd Annual conference organized by National Association for Ethnic Studies at Mills College in Oakland with my chair, Dianne Jennet and Women’s Spirituality Co-director, D’vorah Grenn. The theme of the conference was Research as Ceremony: Decolonizing Ethnic Studies.
Trainings/Certifications I acquired
I got introduced to a powerful health science called footzonology. I got certified in it. I also am getting certified in Back and Face. Too complex to write in this blog. But yes, I am the first one in India and I need to complete 100 zones for footzoneology. So if you want one, ping me and we can schedule one. Check out the website for more info: http://www.footzonology.com/
Then I had the opportunity to train with phenomenal Social Artists and Creative facilitation trainers: Charlie Murphy and Peggy Taylor (Founder of PYE GLobal) in this powerful 5 day training called Catch the Fire. There were around 46 of us who attended: the youngest was 15 years old and the oldest was close to 80 years. Together we deepened our being through such explosion of creativity. Our spirits were nourished. They have all become an integral part of my life now. Big shout out to them!!
Then a whole day spend in exploring Mother Peace Divination with Vicki Noble at her beautiful haven in Santa Cruz amidst bee hives, flowers, vegetables, butterflies, ocean breeze and the company of three precious co-sisters is indescribable. Astrology kept coming into the divination and the discussions around them were beautiful.
Surprising Highlight of my Trip
One of the surprises of my trip was the announcement of Gurudev’s visit to Santa Clara while I was there. It was not in the works when I left. Some of my close friends had the opportunity to take the course with Gurudev. I had the opportunity to see him, talk to him, do Shakti Kriya with him, listen to him speak at Stanford University – Center of Compassion, teach in his presence, share about the various conferences I attended with him, and most importantly, silently just soak in his presence, his words and his love. Then along with Aparna, I flew to Boone, North Carolina to participate in the Guru Purnima celebrations. Ah! Words again fail to describe the experience. Nothing from this world of matter can ever give me that experience of Love, Joy and Bliss as the day of Guru Purnima with Gurudev!! Of course, I love the singing, the dancing and the company of my dearest spiritual family – all blissed out and blessed out!!
I am sure every devotee feels that way about being in the presence of their Guru. Big hug to all devotees around the world!!
I am in Immense Gratitude!!
Although my work in the world pulls me to India, I miss my US family. I really hope that I experience the depth and openness of friendship I experienced in US in India that extends beyond gender, ethnicity, culture, religion yet soaked in spirit, spirituality and meaning.
Definitely, I need to step out of the perimeters of my past experience in India and be open.
Only time will tell!!
I am hopeful!!