Why Spiritual Journeys are Always Solo Journeys

***Note from Noelia: This is another beautiful article written by my cousin, Roxanna Khan.  When I returned home for Christmas a few days ago, I sat down at the breakfast table ~ & ironically enough, the first thing I saw was a newspaper with her face on it!  She had written an article, which contemplates “Why Spiritual Journeys are Always Solo Journeys.”  Its message not only resonates with the theme of my site, but I feel it particularly resonates this holiday season ~ when it’s nice to feel that even among the chaos of Christmas, it’s still possible to find & cultivate moments of quiet contemplation & reflection.  

Enjoy!

Growing Up in Two Different Cultures

Me & my cousin, Suggy.

Why Spiritual Journeys are Always Solo Journeys

As the holiday season of Hanukkah & Christmas is upon us, it brings me to a thought I had this summer when it was triple digits outside ~ but I didn’t delve into at the time.  Now that the weather is near ideal here in our Coachella Valley of splendor, visitors, snow birds, vacationers, & weekenders flock into town.  Whatever the reason for their sojourn to Palm Springs: visiting friends, family, or festivals ~ they cannot help but have a spiritual journey once here.  Perhaps, it connects to their heart & soul once they depart; regardless, it’s a reflective place, the surrounding mountains creating a kind of cocoon of tranquility. 

I will go one step further & add that spiritual journeys are always solo journeys ~ even when taken in a structured group, or pilgrimage of two.  If you let them, & allow time for contemplation & reflection, they seem to inevitably boil over into inner spiritual awakening.

Why Spiritual Journeys are Always Solo Journeys, Girl Who Travels the World

Roxanna in Israel, Spring 2017.

Why Spiritual Journeys are Always Solo Journeys

My own thirst for the spiritual journey began in my youth.  It was subtle, yet ever present.  I grew up in India, where many travel for spiritual solace ~ so you could say I was steeped in it, yet at the time, still unaware.  As I grew up, I felt & learned, but often kicked my way through my youth.

I studied at a Christian school that was the epitome of a spiritual sanctuary.  It was over 100 years old, having been founded by missionaries who wanted to escape the heat of India’s summer.  And so, they created a school for children.  By the time I enrolled, it was a thriving bastion of learning, folded into old buildings & even older values.  Located at 8,000 feet, it framed a stunning landscape: no snow, as it was located close to the equator ~ but seasonal rain showers arrived on schedule, just like the school bell.  A placid lake in the center of town offered a walking trail, & the opportunity for moving meditation.  I was too young at the time to understand the significance of the path I was on, but it was setting me up for another spiritual journey.

Why Spiritual Journeys are Always Solo Journeys, Girl Who Travels the World, Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Jerusalem

Church of the Holy Sepulchre, in Jerusalem.

Travels to Jerusalem…

Recently, I was fortunate enough to travel to Jerusalem & soak up the ancient scriptures as they leapt off the page, into real form.  Scriptures have always been the living word for me, but to traverse the trails of ancient history in today’s fast-forward, smart-phone world, was an inner seeking like no other. 

(I need to pause here: I’m not knocking my dear Apple phone, which allows me to share pictures & thoughts in real-time, with loved ones back home; or to search for key information & review delicious meals, all from the palm of my hand.  Our tour bus conveniently had Wi-Fi ~ how clever.)

Why Spiritual Journeys are Always Solo Journeys, Girl Who Travels the World, Jerusalem

Jerusalem.

I had heard, the scriptures come alive here.  I had heard, it will change you forever ~ but didn’t truly hear those words until I downloaded the trip in my mind.  Our group saw much, & many photos were taken, with the best leader & group possible to travel with in this special place ~ a place that had been on a frayed “Bucket List” on my fridge for over a decade. 

I never imagined I could, or would ever take this journey.  But I did.

Why Spiritual Journeys are Always Solo Journeys, Girl Who Travels the World

Dome of the Rock, in Jerusalem.

Why Spiritual Journeys are Always Solo Journeys

I have traveled all over the world, between Mumbai & California: the two places I’ve called home, & indeed ~ nothing prepared me for the solo metamorphosis that occurred.  Though with a group of 40+ people, the journey for me was indeed a solo act.  Before & after the 9-day pilgrimage, I was busy with a demanding schedule.  So in reality, the effects of the trip occurred this year, when I had the opportunity to sit still & reflect on what I’d seen, where I’d walked, & what prayers & meditations came to mind. This was almost like a second visit, & it too was deeply personal; meant for a party of one. 

I welcome visitors to our beautiful valley who are streaming in for work, fun, family, escape from the cold, or even for a “Shiggaion” detour.  And of course, those who simply come to enjoy the amazing splendor that surrounds us.

Why Spiritual Journeys are Always Solo Journeys, Girl Who Travels the World

Sunrise in Palm Springs. Photo by Jack Bertram.

Shiggaion DefinitionDenotes a lyrical poem composed under strong mental emotion; a song of impassioned imagination accompanied with music; a rhapsody.

If one plays close attention to that inner voice, & follows their “impassioned imagination” ~ it will invariably lead one on an inspired spiritual sojourn.  And if you’re lucky, it will be a deeply personal, & deeply fulfilling, solo one.

Read More by Roxanna: Growing Up In Two Different Cultures

Roxanna Khan

Roxanna Khan

Author

Roxanna Khan grew up both in the United States & in India. Today, she lives & works in Palm Springs, CA, & returns to India every few years for a month-long stay. She is very active in her community & is always busy working on her latest creative project…

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