The Heart Is In The Mountains

By Sonya Rehman

Misty mornings. Photo: Sonya Rehman.


Sitting in the sun, peeling vegetables (to cook for lunch). Spot me?


The mountains, the plains, the green fields and rain – how green is my earth? Photo: Sonya Rehman.


These zero-filter photos (above) that you just went through are from a trip to the mountains a few years ago. I was with a group of sensitive individuals who came together to practise the art of breathing, yoga and mindfulness far, far from the frenzied pace of empty city living.

I keep coming back to this experience over the years because it had such a profound effect on me. I have begun to realize how powerful one’s spiritual quest can be if embarked on in a group – this can be anything from a few days, years or a lifetime. But more on that later.

One of our ‘assignments’ during the course of the trip was to refrain from speaking for 3 days. I remember thinking, ‘How crazy!’ and then, ‘What’s the big deal? This should be easy,’ but it was far from simple.

There’s something about taking an oath of silence and watching the (slow) erosion of your ego without the use of the tongue – try it. Initially, you’ll find a lot of your inner ‘grime’ bubble up to the surface. This happened to me on the second night. I was sharing a room with three other girls and was in a deep slumber, when I heard someone sobbing. At that moment, in the thick of sleep, I felt a hand on my shoulder waking me up. “Sonya?! Sonya…theek ho na?” It was one of the girls, she looked terrified. “Haan sorry, theek hoon, I’m sorry I woke you up.” Pacifying her that I was indeed okay, I turned over, my mind flooded in shock (why was I weeping?) and shame (I felt exposed and vulnerable in front of a complete stranger).

That memory has stayed with me, and I still recall it from time to time. While we’re so put together in our waking life, our egos have neatly packed up our ‘grime’ in pretty little boxes, lodging it deep down in the crevices of our wobbly, broken bits, as they bob away in the sea of our unconscious. And every now and then, these living, breathing patterns, memories, manifest in the most bizarre ways.

I know far too many 30-somethings/40-somethings who haven’t gotten around to doing ‘the work’ – the sifting, channeling, making peace with, cleansing, detoxing, letting go, trashing.

And it’s doing us in. Isn’t it?

The mountains that enfold the vale
With walls of granite, steep and high,
Invite the fearless foot to scale
Their stairway toward the sky. 

The restless, deep, dividing sea
That flows and foams from shore to shore,
Calls to its sunburned chivalry,
“Push out, set sail, explore!” 

And all the bars at which we fret, 
That seem to prison and control, 
Are but the doors of daring, set
Ajar before the soul. 

Say not, “Too poor,” but freely give;
Sigh not, “Too weak,” but boldly try,
You never can begin to live
Until you dare to die.

– Henry Van Dyke

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