I met a couple and their brother on the bus from the plane to the airport in Leh. If you’ve ever been to Leh you’ll be giggling as it takes less than a minute on the bus from the plane to the airport. They were asking me what l’m doing here. As l explained one of the men asked if l was writing a blog of my time. While my mouth was saying ‘l haven’t before, the internet tends to be unstable.’ My Mind was thinking l like the idea. I felt like it was an invitation for me to do it.
This is my fourth trip to Ladakh region. It feels like a second home for me. There is such a sense of peace l feel it to my bones. The mountains are spectacular. I could look at the varying colours – the thousands of years of layers that speak to me about time. The vastness feels like an outer reflection of our inner human journey. The people are friendly, welcoming and pure of heart. Their Buddhist philosophy knows that giving is receiving; that others happiness is as important as our own. Kindness is the foundation of humanity and Leh is dripping in humanity. I feel a kindred spirit.
I would be lying if l said this is the only place l have ever felt this before. My love of Australian Indigenous culture and people along with my sense of place to my home town were the foundation of my early years. Among Koori friends we joke that l feel Koori and they’re okay with that. But wherever l go l make mini families. Even on my first holiday to Thailand l connected to a group of locals who greet me as a friend upon my return.
I love people. I even wore a badge saying ‘l love everyone’ when l was a secondary school teacher in a socially disadvantaged school in my 20’s. People matter. All people matter. I have always cared about others. On last years retreat l got two labels – one, the MIG slayer (l won’t go into that right now!) and the other was Cosmic Mother. Labels help us define things. Giving words to how we feel or experience someone is simply our left brain communicating our right brain feelings. When l was younger l felt ashamed of my mushy feelings. It often felt like a weakness that l cared so much and felt such deep love for everyone. Last year l embraced the strength in being experienced as a mother figure and it was liberating.
My dad saw something in me by the time l was seven years old and his curiosity provided the back drop for me to feel supported to express, develop and enhance my innate abilities to see people; to sense people; and to link past, present and future into patterns. I just know stuff, sometimes. I sense it. I feel it. I intuit it. I empath it. In the eyes of some it makes me scary or little weird, especially for the first 50 years of my life. But then something changed and all of these qualities became my gift. A gift because they were embraced. People want me to be me. They want me to do what l do.
This brings me to Leh and how l have come to be doing what l’m doing here. People have asked me, “Leonie how did you know to even ask, to be able to be doing what you’re doing?” All l have just described is my real answer but mostly l have shrugged my shoulders and said, “l just did. It seemed obvious when l looked at their lives, the resources available and the reality of weather.” For me it’s simply about being connected as one humanity. If we stop and look we can see so much.
My intention is to provide resources and skills so that once taught to the nuns and then the wider Tibetan community they will not need me. Health is the most important part of life because without it everything else is impacted. Being able to eat vegetables during the long, cold winter months is something we, in more moderate climates and with supermarkets, take for granted. Yet it’s an easy fix when this isn’t a reality. Last year everyone witnessing the pickling of vegetables for the very first time were in awe. This year l get to find out if they liked the taste!
The second part of my service is also health based and again something we take for granted in more affluent countries – menstrual pads. At first we supplied Days for Girls packs. These are washable menstrual pads. But part of my research this year is to establish what it will take to teach the women to make their own. I’m super excited by this potential. I have incorporated a volunteer component into my Renew Your Soul Retreat. The next one is being held August – September 2020 and we will be pickling vegetable, preserving fruit and teaching the making of menstrual pads as part of our adventure, providing all my research this year yields results of course!