Freedom in the Caribbean

Mala Barua narrates how a diving experience in the wondrous islands of the Caribbean drowned her many fears and liberated her

I had been told by my spiritual teacher that ‘freedom’ was nothing but a state of mind. That, we falsely believe we are bound by the chains of objective things and relationships. Philosophically speaking and from the absolute point of view, I guess that is true. Nevertheless, I was feeling ‘free’ that both my sons had now finished college and I was taking them to the Caribbean Islands for a diving holiday!

I had never tried diving before, but I do love being in the water and find it very meditative to simply allow my body to merge with the flow of the waves. Watching the sky above and surrendering to the motion of floating, always gives me a sense of freedom. Perhaps it is because it brings me to the present moment and removes all sense of responsibilities. Surrendering is a very difficult but powerful place to be, even in ones daily life. It demands that you let go of all control and accept life ‘as it is.’

Warming up for the leap

We started our journey in New York City. Since it was graduation week, it was a busy time in East Village. I never miss a visit to my favourite Namaste Bookshop near Union Square where I always find interesting books on spiritual philosophy and Indian spiritual masters, that I often can’t find even in India! For a quick bite I usually drop in at the cafe at Wholefoods for their fresh and vegan options or to the more elaborate Garden of Eden for their salads.

We left New York for the Caribbean via Atlanta City. Our first stop was a tiny island called Grand Turk in the Turks and Caicos Islands. Grand Turk has one of the best wall dives in the world and has dive sites with names like Amphitheater, Coral Canyon and Black Forest. The island turned out to be one of the most historic centres of colonial Jamaican architecture. We hired a three-bedroom cottage next to the beach in the main street of Grand Turk. The Sand Bar opposite our cottage was the local hang-out for sundowners. The island was full of salt pans and hence had no fruit. It also had very few restaurants, and they all served similar menus of local fish, jerk chicken, red rice, potatoes and salad. For me it meant survival on potatoes and salads.

Not being a very skilled swimmer, fear was a large part of my apprehension. Internally, I was struggling with how to resolve my excitement to dive with my fear of drowning. Everyday I would go out with the boys and while they dived I lay on the boat sandwiched between the blue sky and the blue sea. For hours I rocked myself to sleep, sometimes watching the gulls, sometimes a rainbow in the sky. There was a complete sense of surrender to the elements of air and water. There was no sound except for the waves crashing on the sides of the boat.

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Mala Barua
Mala Barua is a teacher of Yoga, T’ai Chi and Inner Silence Meditation. She owns Mystic-Asia, a luxury travel company that specialises in wellness and spiritual retreats. She regular writes on matters of wellness and holistic living.

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