Butterflies fluttering in my belly as I patiently waited at the platform atop of Pedra Bonita Mountain (the Beautiful Stone) for Eduardo of Riofly to prepare his equipment for our flight. I timidly walked up to the ledge and peered over into nothingness due to the dense fog that encircled the 2,274 foot mountain top. For those of you who are faint of heart I would not recommend doing that before flying as that fine line between exhilaration and trepidation you started out with could easily be crossed and if crossed there is perhaps no going back. It’s like taking too long to cliff dive. The longer you stand there on the edge and ponder your decision, the less likely you are to jump. Don’t do that to yourself. I don’t believe in regrets generally but this time I would make an exception meaning not experiencing this once in your life would be a regret. For me looking over the edge only bolstered my decision. I became acutely aware of the absolute determination building in me to leap off the edge and to fly like I had so many times in my dreams. After 2 practice runs with Eduardo and a short list of dos and donts, we were ready. Eduardo’s last words being “thank you for trusting me”. Trust in a situation like this is rather an elusive concept. I preferred to think of it as faith in God rather than trust in Eduardo but certainly he did everything necessary to prove he is trustworthy and I highly recommend him.
And there it was…the physical manifestation of Turiya. What is Turiya you are probably wondering? Well awhile back in 2012 on the steps next to Victoria Station in London, cup of coffee in hand, I felt something I had never felt before. It was short lived and I certainly didn’t have a word for it at the time and was only able to describe it as feeling like I was levitating and that somehow I had just found the keys to life. And, as quickly as it came, it left me. I researched for years after that reading every book I could find, going to various different spiritual leaders seeking guidance, congregating at different temples, churches, etc., trying narcotics even, meditating, getting my chakras cleansed, you name it I did it, just to try and get a repeat of that feeling from that brief moment on the steps of Victoria Station once again. I finally learned a word for it in 2014 after much research – Turiya – and as a reflection of my intent on accomplishing my life’s goal of Turiya, I had it tattooed in Sanskrit on my left side that year in Hawaii (yet another bucket list item accomplished by me – actually 2 – tattoo and kissing someone I loved under a waterfall in Hawaii). Anyway, the simplest way to define Turiya is constant bliss but it is actually more accurately defined as a fourth dimension where peace is constant as nothing matters. You are above everything earthly when in the state of Turiya. I personally understand it to mean being in perfect alignment with God’s will. You will know it when you feel it because it is as if time stops and you become certain that you are exactly where you are meant to be in that very moment. What I have learned over the last two years or so is that Turiya is obtained not through all the things previously described and most especially not mind altering drugs but by obtaining a close personal conscious connection with God (or whatever you call your higher power – the divine, universe, spirit, Buddha, Krishna, Allah, for me – it’s God) and a realization he/she is within you and on this journey we call life, with you at all times, your hands interlocked, in perfect harmonious step with each other never to be parted…that you are not alone and never have been or will be alone again. This perfect understanding of God’s will for us is Turiya. I, however, find Elizabeth Gilbert’s description of Turiya in Eat, Pray, Love to be the most accurate. She described Turiya as like being held in the palm of God’s hand.
I tell you all of this because hand gliding is Turiya in its physical form if that is even possible. The moment your feet leave the ground and your body is parallel to the earth flying through the skies, perforating its intermittent clouds, a light breeze caressing your skin and you are doing nothing at all but literally and metaphorically letting the wind blow you where it will…just floating in the air, flying like a bird, or better even – an angel. You hear nothing not even your heartbeat. It is as if it stops beating. You think of nothing. Your mind clears. It is completely void of all thoughts. There is no such thing as time. There is no yesterday. There is no tomorrow. There is only the here and now. The butterflies are completely gone and aside from the caress of the sky which I would akin to having your cheek stroked by God himself, you feel almost nothing. Just peace. It is homeostasis in its absolute best form. You are at rest. You are with God. His light flowing through you and out of you onto the rest of the world. That world in this moment is at a perfect standstill. Of course, assuming you keep your eyes open, you will see the world like you have never seen the world before. For me, at least initially after take off there was nothing but clouds but as I slowly descended my eyes feasted upon the lush green tree-filled mountains, the ocean blue, the golden sands, the rainbow colored favellos, the iconic Christ Redeemer – all of Rio – and what was only a fifteen minute flight felt like hours. It is as if it is just you and God up there. I forgot Eduardo was there with me and honestly I wouldn’t be surprised if he too forgot I was there. It’s a spiritual experience so that is just as it should be. And when your feet once again connect with the earth, all the emotions rush back into your body, tears burst from your eyes – it can’t be helped – as you feel as though you are the embodiment of God’s love and light and after all the many emotions float through you and out of you, you are left with a gratitude you had not and could not have comprehended before and you will know Turiya (maybe even for the first time) and hopefully strive from then on for the real Turiya – the one described above found only in your relationship with God. Hand gliding is the closest activity to show you a glimpse of Turiya. In order to have the real thing, you have to strive for it and work at it through prayer, mediation and even education. Also, traveling and experiencing life and other people’s cultures, religions, spirituality etc is a really great place to start too.
That’s all for now. With love and Turiya from Rio.