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'Eat, Pray, Love' ... minus the pizza and sex
We're heading to Rishikesh in India, which is considered the yoga capital of the world.
January 7th, 2014
12:37 PM ET

'Eat, Pray, Love' ... minus the pizza and sex

By Jessica Ravitz, CNN

(CNN) Nestled in the foothills of the Himalayas, in the northern Indian state of Uttarakhand, sits a magical place ripe for exploration. It’s called Rishikesh, and for the next two weeks it will be our spiritual playground.

I am going there thanks to a religion reporting fellowship, and I’d like to take you with me.

A holy spot for Hindus, Rishikesh is also a destination for Westerners hungering for a different and deeper kind of sustenance. Among the most renowned Rishikesh searchers: The Beatles, who came here in 1968 to study Transcendental Meditation with the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.

It’s dotted with ashrams. Painted holy men roam the streets and sit in nearby caves. There are sunset ceremonies along the sacred Ganges River, and yoga classes flow as consistently as the hallowed waters. Pilgrims flock to temples. Visitors can surrender to ancient forms of medicine, find healing and be cleansed. Some are said to arrive in Rishikesh and never leave, losing themselves forever in the quest for enlightenment.

I’ve done a tiny bit of yoga but am by no stretch a yogi. I once signed up for a meditation course but spent most of the time cheating – peeking at others to see if I was doing it right. That said, the aspiration to explore both practices has made it onto my list of New Year’s resolutions more times than I can count. In this new year, and with this start, perhaps I’ll finally make good on this list. At least for two weeks.

Consider it my mini "Eat, Pray, Love" experience - minus the pizza and sex.

I will open my mind and heart, and dive into whatever it is I can experience spiritually. Along the way, I’ll sit down with swamis, meet with fellow searchers and sniff out must-meet characters.

What qualifies me to be your guide? Well, having never been to India, I can’t really say – but I will meditate on that while I’m there. What I can tell you is I’m not afraid to tread into foreign territory, explore what moves others and ask questions. I have been writing about faith and spirituality on-and-off for more than a decade, and I bring with me a commitment to not judge, a sense of awe, curiosity, humor and a swift pen.

On this assignment I will also carry my handheld gadget and plan to bring you along by way of social media. I am no techie, so this aspect of the journey, too, will be one of growth. Every post may not be perfect, but I can promise you honesty, a glimpse into something new, and hopefully some fun.

You can follow me on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. I'll be using the hashtag #RoamingRavitz. Look out for a more comprehensive story in February.

Now, it’s time for me to get packing. I can’t wait to see where this takes us.

This trip was made possible thanks to a global reporting on religion fellowship granted by the International Center for Journalists, with funding from the Henry Luce Foundation.

- CNN Writer/Producer

Filed under: Hinduism • India • Journeys • Meditation • Yoga

soundoff (193 Responses)
  1. Lawrence of Arabia

    Idolatry and cow worship is sinful.

    January 15, 2014 at 3:59 pm |
    • 00 00

      phoney

      January 16, 2014 at 5:20 am |
    • kdostaingive1973

      After been without work for 6 months, I started freelancing over this site and with a little effort I easily bring in around $65 to $95 per/h! Without any doubt, it's the easiest and most financially rewarding job I've ever had. It changed my life for the better and now I couldn't be happier. This is what I do... Jobs29.com

      March 11, 2014 at 8:01 pm |
  2. Hưng

    Đất nền sổ đỏ tại tp Hồ Chí Minh

    January 13, 2014 at 12:43 pm |
  3. What's the gripe atheists? You have your court day. Meet your LUV! Courting!

    Travel required. :) :)

    January 13, 2014 at 12:09 pm |
  4. Golden Globe

    The Maharishi died peacefully in his sleep of natural causes on 5 February 2008 at his residence in Vlodrop, Netherlands.

    So, this guy left India, his home country and settled down in Netherlands? Ah, the irony, a person who touts the virtues of meditation needed a place like Netherlands to practice it?

    Spiritual lesson:
    People have to cross continents to find spirituality. Maharshi yogi leaves India and goes to Netherlands to meditate, while people from Europe/Americas go to India to find spirituality.

    How spiritually blind can these people be?

    January 13, 2014 at 10:09 am |
    • 00 00

      closer than a brother. one prayer away

      January 16, 2014 at 5:22 am |
  5. Caleb Boone

    Dear Mrs. Ravitz:

    I am sure that your trip is a fun excursion to an exotic place.

    I am certain you will have a great time.

    But, spiritually, it will be a waste of time.

    I hope you are smart enough to realize that.

    Have a Dovely.

    Sincerely yours,
    Caleb Boone.

    January 12, 2014 at 11:15 am |
  6. ben

    Experience 2 mins inner silence- simple experiment if you dont mind it: Put you hand on you heart and ask, and say Oh God Almighty give me complete satisfaction in my heart joy in my heart bliss in my heart so that the whole world become blissful. Give me love so that I can love the whole world and the whole world become one in love. Give salvation to entire humanity which is suffering. Give me self-realisation. Close your eyes .Keep silence for 2 mins and see that you will feel cool breeze in you hands and deep silence in your heart. Amazing it works wonders and connects us to the collective consciousness.

    January 10, 2014 at 6:42 am |
    • Well...

      I fell asleep.

      January 10, 2014 at 12:42 pm |
    • King of Darkness

      Didn't work.

      But then I switched it to Lucifer's name and felt the exact feeling you described. Guess I know who the true god is now.

      January 10, 2014 at 2:48 pm |
    • doobzz

      Meditation and mindfulness exercises are beneficial but require no deity to be effective.

      January 12, 2014 at 2:13 pm |
    • igaftr

      I get the same feeling when I play music. Sometimes I get so lost in the music, I hear music, think "wow, that's beautiful"...then suddenly realize I'm the one playing it...and I have never played any music with any gods....it is just another form of meditation...no gods required.

      January 12, 2014 at 2:16 pm |
  7. Troy

    Satanist/hindu- One worships a goat head while the other worships an elephant head.

    January 9, 2014 at 8:01 am |
    • Spiritual Hardy

      Welcome to India Hope you a one of the Best Spiritual Life Time of your Life! God Bless Everybody. :)

      January 9, 2014 at 10:35 am |
    • Dennis Z

      Not clear how the pecking order works; apparently you ignored cows, monkeys, rats & snakes in that list.

      January 9, 2014 at 12:39 pm |
      • SPC

        They offer blood sacrifices to appease their gods. On the one hand they revere and worship these animals and on the other hand they offer these as sacrifices. Probably a hindu will be able explain the dichotomy with these practices of worshipping these animals and at the same time killing these as a blood sacrifice.

        January 9, 2014 at 3:45 pm |
        • Oxford

          That may be the reason why Darwinism has a positive uptake with them. Animal worship eases that on their consciousness.
          ;)

          January 10, 2014 at 1:18 pm |
        • doobzz

          Christianity uses a human sacrifice as a blood offering to appease its god. Not much difference.

          January 12, 2014 at 1:53 pm |
      • SPC

        DZ.
        Your observation is right, hindus worship cows, snakes, rats & monkeys. They don't sacrifice these animals, they offer blood sacrifices of other animals to the gods and goddesses. It is however not clear what this blood sacrifice means or why a man offered his child as a sacrifice in 2013, but clearly blood sacrifices to their gods is a practice they follow even to this day.

        January 10, 2014 at 3:36 pm |
    • Piccolo

      But funny enough, neither belief system has bizarre rituals that mimmick cannibalism with eating flesh and drinking blood!

      January 9, 2014 at 2:04 pm |
      • Your comment

        This is my gripe about Christophobic bigots like yourself. You have no idea what religion the person who posted this was, and yet you assume You assume to the detriment of people who do have that belief system. Let me tell you something else, that belief system may not include me personally but it does include my uncle, my grand parents, and two of my cousins so if you think you aren't going to hear it from a fellow "non believer" (If that's what you are as well) you can sit on it.

        January 9, 2014 at 6:20 pm |
        • Lars

          Where did Piccolo say anything about Christianity? You made that leap.

          And yet you broke out the ad hominems.... Interesting.

          January 9, 2014 at 8:48 pm |
        • Piccolo

          I'm confused by your response. The OP mentioned bizarre rituals that certain groups take part in, but I feel that eating human flesh and drinking blood is far more bizarre and even borders on demonic (even though I don't believe in that stuff). Most Christians consider that normal, but to an outside observer it's appalling.

          January 10, 2014 at 2:54 pm |
        • Piccolo

          My family all practice Catholicism as well. I went through the system, religious upbringing, youth groups, Catholic school, sacraments, Sunday school, all of it. My sense of logic prevailed (THANK GOD) and I broke away from it when I started thinking for myself and researching things rather than blindly believe them because it was told to me when I was young.

          January 10, 2014 at 3:01 pm |
  8. Lauren (English Wife, Indian Life)

    Have an amazing time!!

    January 9, 2014 at 7:58 am |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke and Eric Marrapodi with daily contributions from CNN's worldwide newsgathering team.