It was early December 2005 and I was on a plane to India. A few months earlier I had come back from running and going through a yoga teacher’s training in Tulum, Mexico. I had started teaching yoga in Santa Monica and loved it. I sensed that I would be leaving my position as General Manager of Power Yoga soon, mentally noting end of March 2006 as a target.
The trip to India was inspired by my cousin’s wedding; we arrived about two weeks before the event to do some sight-seeing, a pilgrimage to Vaishno Devi (Jai Mata Di!), visit family and go shopping. India is always an adventure; and this trip continued the trend.
Growing up in the US, I saw most of my extended family on trips to India every five years or so. So, it was always a rare treat to meet family members even if we didn’t have much in common.
The time for my cousin’s wedding arrived. Indian weddings are a blast, replete with multiple ceremonies, singing, dancing, food, and rituals. As I was watching one of the ceremonies a day or two before the wedding, a woman came up from me from behind asked if she could hug me. I said, “sure,” a little confused and also why not.
Later, at the wedding, she came up to me again and asked her family to take a picture of her with me, a saint. I said without hesitation or thought, “of course.”
About this time, I ate a pakora, an Indian appetizer; it was so spiced up, I couldn’t taste what was inside; and, a few minutes later I realized it had peanuts in it.
Since I was a toddler, I’ve had a very severe allergy to peanuts, so this was not good news. I did not know how bad the reaction would be and it resulted in anaphylactic shock. I go into detail about this experience here.
I came back to the US from this trip to India in a high vibratory, enlightened state. At the time, while unable to make sense of what I was feeling in my mind, I knew to notice what was happening and stay present with what I was feeling. I felt light pouring out of my eyes. People would stop me on the street and ask me if we knew each other; friends said I looked like I had had an amazing vacation, even though I was in the midst of recovering from a major anaphylactic reaction.
During the next couple months, I read a lot, searching for works that resonated with true inspiration and connection to the self, for works that felt pure. I read poetry. Here are some of my favorites from that time: Restless Souls: The Making of American Spirituality by Leigh Schmidt, The Heart Aroused: Poetry and the Preservation of the Soul in Corporate America by David Whyte, works by Henry David Thoreau, and Yoga and the Quest for the True Self by Stephen Cope.
I started writing.
I conceived of Allergy Haven, starting my first company because I realized an opportunity where we could alleviate the fear of carrying around the life-saving medicine by placing it in a fashionable holder. [I sold my share to my business partner in December 2007.]
I left Power Yoga April 1, 2006 and also by then had become an independent strategy consultant for start-ups.
Professionally, I knew I wanted to combine business and spirituality — but what did that mean? How? Also, the current marketplace seemed pretty competitive with new age, self-help types: Tony Robbins, Deepak Chopra, etc.
This search continued over the next three years as I learned more about myself, went on a deep healing journey and continued to grow in my career.