Our 2016 International Expedition took us to India. Our itinerary followed the footsteps of the Buddha as we targeted a core element of Foundation House – our holistic and spiritual program.
We spent months preparing for our journey in weekly groups that featured yoga, meditation, Indian meals cooked in our own restaurant, local professors teaching the history of Buddhism, and a road trip to Boston to attend a Dharma Talk at Harvard.
“We were greeted by an explosion of humanity, color and noise.”
— Chris C. (alumnus)
Our travel throughout India focused on our own meditation, yoga, culinary and spiritual practices while we visiting the major locations of the Buddha’s travel in his search for enlightenment. We traveled by plane, train and tuk-tuk through the country for 14 days, taking in all it had to offer. We found ourselves white water rafting in the Himalayas, doing yoga at sunrise with an Indian master, sitting in meditation under the Bodhi tree, celebrating Holi in Varanasi, and doing a Bollywood dance flash mob in front of hundreds of locals on our final day.
“It was appealing in every way, the colors, the food, the land and the people. Everything was different, somehow calming and chaotic at the same time.”
— Will T. (resident)
Our trip began in Delhi where we collected spices at a local market, flavors that would return to the States with us and are used in our restaurant’s cooking classes. Next we traveled by train to Rishikesh in Northern India. There we focused on our yoga practice, waking each morning for a sunrise yoga session on the banks of the Ganges River. From Rishikesh we traveled to Bodhgaya to visit the Bodhi Tree, where the Buddha attained his enlightenment. While there we also visited a local orphanage, where we donated schoolbooks and supplies and spent the day with the children, laughing, dancing, singing and playing. Our final stop was Varanasi, a truly ancient city.
“This trip made me see the world in a different way. A better way. This is and always will be one of the most powerful experiences of my life.”
— Michael B (alumnus)
We spent sunrise and sunset on the Ganges, the holy river of India, admiring the reverence the locals paid to this body of water. Our group took part in Holi – the festival of love and color and India’s most celebrated holiday. To experience India in this way was remarkable, a truly life-changing experience for our group. Our final sendoff came in the form of a Bollywood flash mob performed on the steps of the Ganges River. We danced in unison as a crowd of hundreds gathered to watch. The energy and frenetic pace of this country left its impression on our residents, alumni and staff alike.
“As I fondly reminisce about the whole thing I’m conflicted as to what I really miss more; the place itself or the people I got to be there with.”
— Chris S. (alumnus) – photo on page
We left better men than we arrived, the warmth of the country and its people branded forever on our souls. At home, we try to remain ambassadors of happy, and give away the gifts we received. That process is the heart of true recovery. It is the reason we travel to far off places and challenge ourselves to evolve. Not only in our own lives, but in relation to the world around us. Traveling through India tested our endurance, patience and stomach. Tests we passed with flying colors.