Madhu Bazaz Wangu | Journaling in South Africa
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Journaling in South Africa

Journaling in South Africa

My recent vacation in Southern Africa, with my husband, was one of the most mind stretching and heart opening trip we have ever had. Some thirty years ago, with the practice of mindfulness meditation I experienced my body, mind and heart integrate and become whole. In 2010, I invited writers of all levels to practice Writing Meditation with me. Recently, in Africa my integrated-self awoke to a deeper connection within because I was alive and attentive to the vivid web of natural world around me. The terms such as interconnectedness and impermanence of each moment and every life form was made real. The force that animates the universe and is felt in deep meditation became more meaningful. This tremendously powerful phenomenon gets lost in the hullabaloo of civilization.

Our previous travels in Egypt, Greece, Italy, France, Spain, Portugal, India, China and Japan overwhelmed us with their magnificent art, architecture, literature and cuisine. They enhanced my aesthetic sensibilities and provided pleasures of the senses. But experiencing African “Bush” (as vast forests are called) wrung my insides out. Each game safari (we did fifteen mostly in jeep, some in boat and on feet) intensified and helped me make sense of my relationship with the land, the water, the animals, the birds, the trees, the bushes, the sun—in short, the raw nature in all its beauty, power and glory. The environment consumed me and affected me as never before. Questions such as, what is all this? who am I? where do come from? that have been at the back of my mind rushed to the surface. What I experienced is not easy to put into words, yet I profusely and unhesitatingly journaled about it.

On our safaris we drove with a guide and a ranger in a Land Rover that was more like a war tank than a jeep. If bushes, smaller trees or boulders were obstructing an animal the vehicle simply crushed and made its way ahead. Each game drive lasted three to four hours, twice a day, whether we were in Botswana, Zimbabwe or South Africa. We rode on rocky, sandy and grassy terrains to witness raw jungle life—lioness giving birth, giraffes chomping leaves, zebras grazing, painted wolves brutally killing antelopes. Hyenas and vultures watching and waiting to consume the remaining shreds. Lions hogging a warthog as cubs and lionesses waited their turn. Elephants showering mud on themselves. Hundreds of pelicans catching tilapia with their sieving beaks. During the day the vista and the scenery fragmented me into million pieces. Yet journaling reintegrated me. It let me pour out my fears, the terror, the beauty and the magnificence of nature. Writing in my journal grounded me and pulled me deeper into myself as I tried to make sense of what I was seeing and hearing. More I journaled deeper I dug. At the end of the trip a few gems were revealed.

Soon I’ll post photos of what we saw and how I felt in the middle of it all.

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