How do you put into words the intense experience of living on a train for an entire fortnight along with more than 500 other people – all strangers on day 1 and family on day 15?
How do you describe the beauty of welcoming the New Year in a totally unfamiliar place somewhere in Jharkhand or Bihar?
It’s difficult for me to do, and hence it has taken me more than a month after the Jagriti Yatra ended to sit down and begin to write about it. Yet I hope you will read on and find something of interest in what I have to say.
Within our Heartfulness community, we’re used to witnessing efforts to inspire and mobilize the youth towards action that contributes to a greater cause, and we’ve seen how challenging this can be. So to see a similar attempt executed so successfully was awe-inspiring. The long-term goal in this case is to “build India through enterprise” and the focus of the journey around the country was on social entrepreneurship.
We visited 12 places along this circuit, travelling approximately 8000 kilometers, stopping at these destinations to study role model enterprises and meet the pioneers behind them. If this sounds impressive, I should tell you now that it wasn’t the most interesting aspect for me.
What really impressed me were the fellow participants and facilitators, people from different cities, towns and villages from various parts of the country and even from other countries, each with their own unique motivations for undertaking the journey and, better still, each with their own compelling stories to share. We were sorted into cohorts of 6 participants and 1 facilitator, and three cohorts comprised a group. We got to know our group fairly well over case study activities and business plan ideations.
My cohort was a diverse gang of girls that I grew to love in the two weeks, and this is coming from someone who openly acknowledges discomfort in warming up to new people.
Speaking of which, I spent a lot of time thinking about and having conversations around comfort zones. Both physically and mentally, the Jagriti Yatra pushed or pulled us out of our comfort zones. I’ve experienced that if one of two parties is out of their comfort zone, it can lead to some awkwardness. But what happens when you’re with a train full of people out of their comfort zone – where everybody accepts it with a warm hug rather than a nervous grimace – all travelling to new places, all having to face ambiguity, all having to acknowledge how little we know, and all longing to learn and grow from the journey and each other?
The result is the absence of prejudice and the freedom to be exactly who you are. Everyone seemed willing to adapt, in such a large group of strangers who worked so well together despite having very little in common. Fortunately, everyone was very open to Heartfulness and we had a short relaxation session at the site of Nalanda’s archeological ruins as well as small group meditation sessions in my train compartment. It was at these moments that I felt most grateful to be a trainer because I was happy that I could contribute something to the group from which I was learning so much.
At some point it felt like there was excess stimulation and no time to assimilate it. Luckily there was one activity that required us to write a message to our future selves on a postcard that the Jagriti group would later post to us. I wasn’t in the mood to make any more New Year’s resolutions, after years of not being able to follow through on them. So instead of a bucket-list version of my goals, I focused on something subtler, pertaining to what kind of approach I want to take to life in this year. I cheated by taking a photo of the postcard once I was done, and I’ll leave you with a short excerpt: “Say YES to opportunities that come your way, and continue your journey towards becoming all that you can… All the best, future self… trust your instinct, stay confident and keep learning! Love, Deeksha.” While it sounds cheesy, I’m relieved that I didn’t set unachievable targets. Yet, if I can do all these things, I’m sure I’ll have no regrets when I look back at the end of the year.