Get Started

We’re planning a big sabbatical

Jul 13, 2012


We’re planning a sabbatical! Life is great in NYC – Karan and I both love our jobs, our apartment, friends, running in the park, all of it. Yet we’re taking this time to pull away to accomplish some personal goals of spiritual growth and a creative project. Our journey will kick off in October 2012, and I like to think of it in 3 parts:

1. Getting to India: We’re starting with a Buddhist meditation retreat at Dhanakosa in the hills of Scotland, we’ll see some close friends and family in London, and then make our way to Italy for 10 days of complete silence in Vipassana meditation, and across Eastern Europe to India by road. (October/ November)

2. India: 
In India we will do yoga teacher training in Madurai in the south (a month of cold showers and a schedule that starts at 5am and ends at 9pm!), and then study Vedanta and practice meditation in Pune. We are also planning to spend 1 month writing. Here is a possible place we might write. (Nov/ Dec is yoga, Jan is vedanta, Feb is writing)

3. Return from India:
 We will conclude the journey with a long walk, the 800-mile Camino de Santiago pilgrimage across Spain. (March/April)

Karan sent me a wonderful TED Talk about sabbaticals called The Power of Time Off by Stefan Sagmeister. He’s a designer and he takes off 1 year for every 7 working years. He has found that the sabbaticals make him far more productive, creative, and prosperous when he returns to work.

Stefan introduces a concept of interspersing your retirement within your working years. If you look at this chart, it shows that we have 25 “learning” years, 40 “working” years, and 15 “retirement” years.

But then – in a bold move – Stephan takes 5 of those yellow retirement years and intersperses them with the working years! The idea is that the growth during that year is personally enjoyable, but also flows back into your work and your life to benefit everyone you touch.

So this is what we are doing, with the intention that what we learn during this year will benefit us through the rest of our lives.

Surrender to the road
We’re going to be journeying with 1 backpack. I’ve been away from the comforts of home, hot showers and hair straighteners for 2 months, but never this long! After we finish Vipassana meditation in Italy we’ll be traveling towards India by road, through Croatia, Bulgaria, Romania, Turkey. We’ll be covering new and unknown territory, making deep connections with strangers, and practicing surrender and trust in each moment on the road. What this might sound quite planned, aside from yoga teaching training, everything is subject to change as we see fit – we will adjust and adapt and follow our intuition as we go, so there’s a structure in place but it’s also quite fluid.

60 days of silence

Photo: Men’s Journal August 2012

In the Vipassana retreat we will be in complete silence – no speaking, no reading, no cell phones, not even eye contact. During yoga teacher training and in the ashram in the Himalayas, the silence won’t be such a complete blackout. But we’ll still be disconnected from computers, internet, gadgets, tv, billboards, advertising and newspapers for weeks at a time. The silence that allows you to go within and know who you are. The silence that makes your ears ring at first, until you adjust. The silence that becomes stillness and peace.

The 800-mile walk back

The pilgrimage on the Camino de Santiago is a chance to come out of silence and be with other pilgrims. My vision is that during this time I will integrate the learnings from months of meditation into the “real world.” I will walk, connect, percolate, sleep in church basements in small villages, eat tapas, and walk some more, with just a light bag on my back.

Tapping into creative flow 
And finally we will both be writing and working on our own book projects throughout the journey. Karan is a talented writer and bestselling author and is using this time to take his writing to the next level. I’m very lucky to have him around for encouragement and setting a big vision of what we can create.

And yes, I am coming home, I promise! [Update: We’re so happy to have a wonderful subletter lined up who is leaving on April 23, so it’s perfect timing to be back at work on May 1.]

I’ll be sharing more in the coming weeks. Please share – do you have any advice or ideas for the journey?




Cozy Little Sleeper, a 3-week course for newborns age 0 to 4 months


Free Guide

Fix Your Baby's Schedule

Is your baby's sleep schedule all over the place?  If a consistent schedule would be a huge relief, download this free guide for all the tips I teach clients to set a predictable daily schedule for baby.

We will never sell your information, for any reason.