The Gift of Goa -Ashwem Beach, India

February 17-20, 2017

I arrived at the glorious Ashwem beach in North Goa late at night, and the very first thing that struck my senses was the sky. Far away from city lights, millions of stars hover overhead, shining bright against the pitch black backdrop of sky, and Venus, glowing bigger and brighter than I’ve ever seen her before, descends upon the horizon, nearing her collision with the ocean. There is a reason I fell in love with this particular patch of land-meets-sea last year, and I am elated to be back.

My humble hut
My humble hut

While none of my accommodations thus far have been particularly cumbersome, three weeks in India inevitably starts to produce a certain sort of wear and tear, particularly the in logistics of getting from place to place, and so the resort I chose (not by accident) is the exact dose of eco-chic I need at this juncture. Even the sweet little frogs that join me in my bathroom every night are a welcome reconnection to the natural flow of life away from the tourist hustle and bustle.

My roommate
My roommate
Reflecting on the situation
Reflecting on the situation

Before arriving, I had a small list of things I wanted to do and explore here in Goa, but by the end of my first day it became clear that what I really wanted was to just land. My body and soul, immediately resonating deeply with the sun and sand and sea, wanted get far away from doing, and revel in just being… and this beautiful beach was exactly the right place for such non-endeavor.

I only had three full days here, but right away I saw a meditative rhythm emerging. I greeted each morning with a powerful pranayama (breath) practice followed by a teapot of masala chai on the beach overlooking the early morning tide. While drinking tea may not seem like the most spiritual of activities, I found that the simplicity of being present with the ritual, intently listening to the sound of the ongoing wave breaks, and tuning into the breeze softly blowing against my skin to be as profound a meditation practice there is.

Ritual
Ritual
Yoga. Always.
Yoga. Always.

Tea has been followed each morning by a long and peaceful yoga practice in the resort’s delightfully cool yoga shala (a lovely reprieve, as the temperatures here climb quickly as soon as the morning sun crests the hillside behind the property) after which I’ve enjoyed a delightful breakfast in my own private, lush little garden area. I found myself wondering each day, without fail, how the hours so quietly slipped away.

I won’t lie and pretend that I didn’t fantasize for a brief minute about living out the rest of my days in blissful routine such as this, but I’ve come to realize that a large part of the pleasure in these kinds of affairs is learning how to remain fully present with the moment at hand while remaining cognizant of its impermanence. There is a certain experiential amplitude that happens when you surrender to being so in the moment that you automatically relinquish any future expectations from it… and that’s a practice worth cultivating.

Entrancing end of the day, every day.
Entrancing end of the day, every day.

My biggest pleasure so far has been the water. As a Northern California girl for the last 20 years, I enjoy one of the most beautiful coastlines in the world and that’s something that I never, ever take for granted. But when I travel to tropical regions I realize the small void that exists by not being able to regularly and comfortably immerse myself into the vast and powerful oceanic waters that comprise the majority of this planet.

Here, in the warmth of the Arabian Sea, I submit to the womb-like lull of the all-encompassing salt water that pulls me into her rhythmic dance, and I feel a sense of freedom and connectivity to something so beautiful that it’s hard to put into words… and in large part, it is this luxury of the senses that keeps me tethered to this beach, forgoing any desire to explore beyond my immediate vicinity.

Afternoons here have varied, albeit not greatly. I had the pleasure of sharing some food and drinks with new friends I made on the plane ride here, and I spent several of the glorious dusk hours watching the sun set, cold drink in hand, amused by the canine turf wars that inevitably erupted on the beach every evening. Dinner choices have been plentiful and delicious, and afterwards, walking home on the darkened shore I found myself drawn to lay in the sand and ponder the sublime beauty of the same wondrous sky that greeted me upon my arrival. It is an undeniable moment of heaven on earth.

img_3252

February, the time when temperatures start to creep up uncomfortably high, marks the tail end of high season here. As such, the busy weekend beach activity has segued into a blissfully quiet Monday and I am grateful that my last full day here is filled with calm and quiet before I venture on to my next locale. Thank you Goa, for this beautiful gift.

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