You might know it as an 'ah-ha moment', an 'insight', a 'knowing', a 'premonition', or a 'moment of clairvoyance'.
You know what I’m referring to - those sudden inspirations that you get where you might even get the tingles or goose bumps all over.
I call it a Big Yes moment.
It could be something you visualise or something someone says. Perhaps it’s an idea that drops in or a clear decision point. Maybe a co-incidence, or just a second in time when you your energy being pulled strongly towards something in an expansive way.
Whatever you call it, the Big Yes’s in life are definitely worth paying attention to - if you’re intent on living the most meaningful and fulfilling life possible (that’s you, right?).
I’ve just returned from a mind-opening trip to India, under the kind guidance of a one of my dear friends Geshe Tsultrim, who is the head teacher at Chenrezig Buddhist Institute on Australia’s Sunshine Coast. Together with a small group that made the pilgrimage from Chenrezig to India, we followed the footsteps that Buddha himself took across northern India more than 2,500 years ago now.
Geshe Tsultrim and I, at the Big Love Cafe at Chenrezig Instite
What was my inspiration for taking this trip?
It stemmed from a Big Yes moment that lasted for about five seconds. It occurred just six-months prior to the India trip, and as tends to happen with these moments, the Big Yes dropped in rather unexpectedly.
I was leading a morning of meditation during my 2019 Power and Peace retreat. Yes, I was in an open and creative state of being – which are key ingredients for the Big Yes’s to come forth. I’ve got a great routine for getting myself into this expansive state of being whenever I’m teaching, because then I can work better with the energy of the room rather than delivering some kind of prepared, pre- scripted type of teaching (which I tried for years – cringe!).
The thing is, as curious and open as I was, I was still partly working from my cerebral brain – the seat of logic and reason, as I kept a watchful eye on the 21 meditators in the room, delivering the occasional instruction to keep their attention on track like, ‘…continue to relax off any unnecessary tension in the body’, or, ‘…gently shift the awareness back onto the next breath in and out.’
I closed my eyes for a few moments. Then, seemingly out of nowhere, there it was. A clear vision.
Geshe Tsultrim was standing in front of me dressed in his maroon and yellow robe. Behind him, the landscape revealed that we were located somewhere quite arid. It was India or Tibet. There was no doubt: it was definitely one of those.
I could still feel my body and breath during this visualisation and had complete awareness of being in the room with my retreat attendees. Yet for those five or so seconds that the visual lasted for, I was transported to a place where I just knew I’d be visitng soon.
Goosebumps started forming on my skin. But the moment I placed my awareness on the tingling sensation on my skin, was the moment that the visual disappeared. My eyes sprung open wide.
Wow, that was intense!, I thought, followed by, Isn’t that interesting? I’m going to India or Tibet with Geshe Tsultrim! In my whole being, there was no doubt about this event happening. Now, it was just a matter of when.
The following week after teaching a yoga class at Chenrezig, I walked into the Big Love Café and Geshe Tsultrim was already sitting down at a table having lunch. Upon seeing me, he ushered me over to join him for lunch. Bearing my premonition in mind, I asked him if he ever took pilgrimages to Tibet. He shook his head, gently reminding me of his inability to return to his native country of Tibet, following his escape with many other Tibetan Buddhists from communist Chinese invasion.
‘What about India?’, I kept probing.
His eyes lit up. ‘Yes! I’m going to India this coming January,’ he stated. ‘Would you like to come?’
It was an immediate yes from me.
I didn’t know any of the logistics, details, how’s, where’s and why’s yet. I didn’t know why it was such a Big Yes, or what was going to unfold on the trip that would be so significant. All I knew is that I needed to follow the breadcrumbs of the Big Yes. And I needed to allow whatever was going to unfold, to do so.
Importantly, I had to keep putting energy in motion towards that Big Yes that had presented itself to me so clearly. For example, if I had never bothered to ask Geshe Tsultrim if he was going to India, maybe the opportunity for me to actually go would never have presented itself. Who knows!
Six months later, there I was. In India, with Geshe Tsultrim standing before me in his maroon and yellow robe, amongst arid surroundings.
Was this the image I'd visualised? Geshe Tsultrim kindly takes a photo of me in front of the Taj Majal.
We were presented with magical moments every single day of the two-week trip. Just being in the presence and wisdom of Geshe Tsultrim each day was a gift – this man who became a monk at 14 years of age, who then at 18 years of age couragously left his beloved Tibet behind in hiding in the back of a truck so he could pursue his love of Buddhism and study of the dharma under the Dalai Lama, who then went on to study for more than 20 years to become a Geshe.
Let alone the experience we were afforded of getting to live like a local in the Indian Himalayas, making daily circumambulations around His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama’s temple, and even having a private audience with the Dalia Lama himself.
Experiencing the bright presence, compassion, certainty and gentleness of His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, at his residence in Dharamasala.
We played in the mountain snow and were introduced to authentic Tibetan butter tea and delicious momos.
We navigating the roads full of cows, dogs, children in nappies, buses with twenty people clambering to its roof rack, bicycles, motorbikes.
We meditated under the Bodhi tree where Buddha attained enlightenment and visited some the sites of some of Buddhas very first teachings.
We witnessed the full realms of human existence, ranging from the extreme suffering of a legless, blind and elderly man dragging himself along a dirt road, to the upmost happiness in the eye of a dancing three-year-old child outside the Tibetan Parliament in Exhale offices.
Toward the end of the trip I reflected with Geshe Tsultrim on how fortunate we were to live in a country like Australia, with access to so many opportunities at our fingertips – if we’re willing to put action into play. I told him how this trip had help renew my perspective on the world and had reignited my gratitude for everything I already had.
He said, ’Most people in the west have everything they need – some form of comfortable housing, enough food, families and friends, and jobs that can fund all of life’s essentials. Yet they still spend a lot of their time chasing more money, and chasing the next thing, and they feel unhappy when they aren’t getting more and more. Yes, make sure that you have good living conditions, enough food and spend time with your family and friends. But instead of investing your time chasing more and money, instead spend time investing in yourself through studying the way of the mind and liberating its suffering. This, is a wonderful and true pathway to genuine happiness.’
I heard his message loud and clear. It was the same message that I’d received during my meeting with the Dalai Lama the week before, just through being in his presence.
I also now understood why I was presented with that Big Yes moment six-months earlier. It was keeping me on track. On my soul’s destined journey. It spoke:
You’re right on track. Keep listening and being present to my whispers, and I will show you experiences that your soul yearns for. Stay compassionate, curious and open-minded. Enjoy the comforts of life around you, yet don’t turn them into the purpose of living. Instead, use them to enable your ongoing mission of happiness, and through your sheer demonstration you will show others how to do the same.
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