Joel Steggall Landscape

Coming to Kailash for a Retreat Part 2: Surely I couldn’t be ‘fixed’ that easily?

If you haven’t yet, check out Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3 of Joel’s epic journey before reading on!

Jumping in the water and feeling the power of the fresh waterfall thunder over my body was exhilarating. Jumping off the rock for me was fun and generally seeing people from all walks of life playing and being in the moment was just beautiful, almost as if time was standing still for a moment.

Getting back to the car park we were greeted by a few of the Kailash residents who had brought down some food to have some vegetarian wraps which after the walk and jumping in the water my appetite was high. A vice of mine when feeling low was to turn to junk food for sure but for some reason this food which I wouldn’t have gone for on my own accord felt right and to be just what I needed. The difference I felt putting in light, healthy, wholesome food to my body was already showing positive effects on my mindset and created a feeling of lightness.

Fish Falls Meditation
Meditation at Fish Falls, Joel on the right

That evening there was a sharing circle which prior to setting off from Melbourne I had felt apprehensive about and had assumed it was for sharing skills, talents or something of that nature and we all needed to prepare something for the group. I thought long and hard and was going to share a card trick my Grandad taught me when I was a child but the sharing circle was formed around deep conversation with some simple topics and techniques that broadened my horizons so much on talking but more importantly, the art of truly listening and what that means.

What was only a few hours felt like a whole day as time stood still and the energy I felt of being completely and utterly captivated by the present moment only added to this. Leaving that sharing circle I felt much closer bonds to the entire group but also really reignited a feeling of self-love for myself. That environment and the way it was structure by the Kailash team was so cleverly set out for this I couldn’t believe the difference between the apprehension I had going in compared to how I felt coming out.

That evening we had a sound meditation in the yurt which was something I had never experienced before or had any knowledge about. Seeing that we were going to be laying on mats on the wooden floor for an hour or so I thought it would be important to highlight to David that my back can get achy and whether you are allowed to move during this time, thinking for sure that I will have to do so. David replied that of course I can move if I need to but I might find that I don’t need to with a smirk that hinted he knew something that I didn’t which I picked up on immediately, thinking, yes but you don’t know how bad my back is!

I have never felt my body feel more relaxed than I did during that sound meditation, I thought I had sunken into the wood beneath me and also had a weight pressing me down in the nicest possible way. I felt energies moving through me as he played his bowls and felt turmoil as the symbols were crashing which all played a beautiful part in what felt a masterpiece of a meditative emotional journey. The interesting part for me was how different everyone’s experience was whilst on the mat from deep rest to vivid flashbacks to previous parts of life both good and bad. I journaled my thoughts for the evening and tried to get down all the amazing titbits I got from not just the Kailash team but from the other guests too.

The next morning after breakfast we had a traditional fire ceremony called a Yagya in the tipi which was going to last about 3 hours. I felt sceptical of this as I’d came away for a meditation gathering, what purpose would a fire ceremony serve? Everything seemed to not be particularly planned out to me and David and Rajni explained this is how they do it in India and just to feel into it. Feeling into things doesn’t come naturally for me, I’ve spent my life thinking in my mind and jumping straight to logical outcomes before even feeling the emotion of events playing out so this was going to be difficult for me.

February Soul Retreat Joel
February Yagya, Joel on the right

Rajni would sing the mantras in Sanskrit and David would explain them in English as we were all sat around a firepit which had not been lit yet. I found this hard to follow but reminded myself to just go with it whilst intermittently changing my seating position adjusting my tight legs from underneath me.

Rice was being thrown everywhere, flowers too, we had different things in our hands and at certain times things were thrown into the fire pit and if I’m honest I found it a bit hard to keep up with, especially in my thinking mind where I like to know everything that’s going on.

Then came the time to light the fire which David explained the history and significance of fire, especially in the olden days before all the modern day treats we enjoy so freely. He explained that this fire does not represent his soul, my soul but our soul… As soon as he lit it tears started streaming down my face and I had no idea why, I just felt emotion coming out of me and instead of trying to understand why I just let it all pour out. To purge that emotion felt so liberating and freeing although I had no idea of what, I just felt lighter and cleansed in a way.

Post-fire ceremony there were a couple of hours to say goodbye and take a group photo although it was made abundantly clear that there was no rush to leave the property which was a lovely touch. Driving back to Melbourne I felt like I had been away for a week and had completely forgot what my normal life felt like, the only other time I’ve had this feeling is on the way back from a festival where I’ve had a completely different experience to what I did at Kailash. How nice to be able to find this feeling from 2 nights away having detoxed my mind, body and soul during the process!

I had bought some crisps, a chicken roll and a chocolate bar on the way to Kailash but by the time I was ready to leave I didn’t feel a desire to put food like this into my body. Was I a changed man already letting go of the vice of snacky food like this? I decided to donate them to Clem one of the Kailash residents and head on my journey home to find out.

There were a couple of moments during the meditation gathering when I thought deeply about the questions that were buzzing around my head that had led me to Kailash – with my grandparents getting older and all of my family in the UK these questions were mainly “what do I want to do with my life” and “where do I want to live it.” Surely in two nights I could figure all of this out? Well, that’s what I was hoping for anyway….

The next part of Joel’s epic journey is out, read on here

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