Has it really been that long since I moved out to The Grampians? My first 10 weeks as a Kailash resident have flown by and felt like forever all at the same time. My previous way of life and mindset feels so far away, it’s true what they say – “if you don’t like something, change it.”
Being a resident here the first thing I noticed was how different life is compared to being on a retreat. There’s work to be done and plenty of it. Each person is on their own different journey, from a different background with different needs and a different way of communicating.
Recognising I am here for myself first and foremost, I couldn’t help feeling that being part of a nice group is also something I also value… or a community if you will… I also recognised that my personality is something pretty unlike what is here already and to ease into things as I go. I like to laugh and joke, but my sense of humour can be taken the wrong way if we don’t know each other well enough beforehand. This has always been the case and isn’t likely to change, I treat everyone with respect and would go above and beyond if they were in need of anything at all. I care about people from the moment I meet them, I just show it through humour and cheekiness initially. My greatest joy is putting a smile on people’s faces.
It took a while to shift my headspace from the chaotic corporate mind to one in which felt less anxious. Settling into my new routine of getting up early, going for a run in the dark and freezing cold around the property wondering whether a kangaroo and emu would jump out, to get back in time to stretch, shower and eat before starting our Gurukarya my mind was the same as it was in Melbourne. Always thinking of the next thing that I had to do and how long I had to finish the current thing I’m doing. Mentally my mind races through the entire day many times over which has been a positive for being organised etc., but it can steal the joy of the present moment, something we will never live again…
To begin with, getting out of bed was a struggle, so instead of laying there beating myself up about my over active mind and feeling tired, I decided to do 5–15-minute guided meditations as a happy in between of wanting to stay in bed but also wanting to be ‘productive’ as well.
This helped me a lot to free myself from that ‘what’s next mindset’ which I understand will likely never go – as I get busier it’s like adding fuel to my mind’s fire but if I can bring awareness to it and catch it in the moment, it will save me a lot of time and internal dialogue.
Habit stacking seemed to help me get some momentum back and also celebrating the small wins… Finishing a short 6km run and putting my arms in the air, then writing in my journal (another habit I wanted to start) how happy I was to have completed the run helped me build the positive momentum in all areas of life, and stack one habit on top of another. Block by block, I was building myself up again.
Coming here I wondered if I would leave my phone and laptop behind and be living with people who not only didn’t use screens but were against them. I was intrigued to see how life would be at Kailash in this regard. This wasn’t the case entirely, the day to day running of things here is through a WhatsApp group so the phone is needed to be around for communication purposes, but I’m certainly not with people who are addicted to scrolling the social pipes that’s for sure. People here definitely have a better relationship with screens in general which has been great for me to see, I seem to have a love/hate relationship with them. It’s also easy not to look at screens when the scenery here is so breathtaking!
I’ve plunged into many new things – various hot drinks, various cooking tips, planting seedlings, transplanting bushes, weeding gardens, using a log splitter, burning off areas for fire prevention, art healing, cold waterfall immersion, Sanskrit mantras, sharing circles, sound healing, meditation discourses, traditional fire ceremonies and much more.
My thinking mind has forgotten most of the day-to-day conversations that left me inspired, pearls of wisdom shared by people and lots of moments of utter joy but I know my subconscious mind will remember. Embarking on a personal experience like this will have a ripple effect through the rest of my life. One small change alone can reshape the rest of our lives, let alone something like this.
Am I fully changed? Far from it… Do I feel like I’m on the right path and living life on my terms? Pretty much! There are still so many things I ‘need’ to figure out but I am adding more tools to my kit and growing as a person each day. The biggest message I am trying to embrace is to surrender, the more we let go and leave space opens up the opportunity for things to come to you. In moments of stillness lies the magic. A man much wiser than myself told me recently “the more you chase happiness the further away it can seem, like swimming to a ball in water, it only goes further away, but if you stop, it might just come to you.”
To summarise my experience so far in the 10 weeks I’ve been here – It’s great to have a new and forever evolving perspective on life and what I want from it, likewise a forever evolving perception of who I am and what I want with an understanding that nobody fully has the answers, so we may as well enjoy it whilst we can!