January 20, 2014


After the most exquisite wedding I’d ever seen and a few bites of wedding cake, we whisked ourselves away to the Delhi airport to catch a small plane.

To my delight the flight attendants of Indian airlines all wore beautiful saris & served chai tea! We were on our way to one of my favorite places in the world: Bodhgaya.

gold leaf & flower offerings

As we landed, the vegetation at the edges of the runway was lush and green and everything seemed to sparkle.

We got our luggage and stepped out into the sunshine - we spied our friend Mohammad. We hadn’t seen him in 10 years! He looked older and wiser.

Mohammad, now married, with 2 beautiful children

The young man with him piled our suitcases into the SUV and we jumped on the road into the main town, riding alongside other cars, rickshaws, bicycles and pedestrians.

I looked out the windows, the sunshine beaming on a kaleidoscope of colors, shapes & motion.

Everything looked so new and fresh since the last time I’d been in 2003, when I came for a week-long Kalachakra ceremony, led by His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

We drove until we reached the dirt roads of the town. We piled out of the car. Mohammad and the young man carried our heavy suitcases down the dusty road to Mohammad’s newly built guesthouse.

Familiar smells wafted their way toward me - a blend of spicy wood fire smoke, cow manure and sweet incense.

children playing

I had forgotten that this world is devoid of the sterile cushion that exists in the U.S. - between you and that more visceral sense of real living - children with bare feet playing and smiling, women washing dishes or hanging clothes alongside the goats, chicken, pigs and stray dogs.

Here you cannot get lost in your own thought, your own tiny mental world, when a big wide world full of beauty and aliveness exists all around you.

Mohammad's son, Nihal

The guesthouse was a quiet refuge from the busy-ness outside. This was a new guesthouse Mohammad built - his second one - and each room has its own bathroom with a shower (wow!). A window next to the beds let in soft sounds of children playing in the streets, and chicken clucking in the yard next door.

mohammad's restaurant sign

Ten years ago Mohammad had a restaurant made by hand with mud walls & mud floors. Every year they re-built the restaurant for busy season, and Mohammad employed many men from the community. His menu was an eclectic range of Indian, Chinese, and Tibetan food. He even made banana pancakes & chocolate pies.

Now Mohammad’s Restaurant was a permanent cement structure with a water purifier (!) and even wifi. How times change ... Now Mohammad of course has a cell phone (or two).

m & 2 cell phones

The last time I was in Bodhgaya I lived there for a month - this time we only stayed three days. We cherished our time: with our friends and family, walking around the town, exploring and re-discovering, and spending time at the stupa.

Mahabodhi Stupa

The stupa is a gorgeous structure built in the place where Sakyamuni attained enlightenment over 2500 years ago. After leaving his kingdom (he was a prince), he studied with many meditation masters and practiced in solitary retreat until he became enlightened under the Bodhi tree. Descendants of this original Bodhi tree stretch their arms across the courtyards under the stupa, offering shade and support to meditators.

Bodhi Tree

Imagine a place where millions of people come from all over the world to quietly make prayers and wishes - imagine the kind of positive energy that charges the air and ground in that place!



The first day we visited the stupa we napped at the base of a gorgeous statue, curling up on the large warm bricks. We snoozed in that dreamy way, like falling asleep on your mother’s lap as a child ... until we awoke to dogs licking our ears.

There are many stray dogs that wander into the stupa grounds. I’m always a bit wary of stray dogs in India ... these three caramel-colored dogs were tentative and sweet. We patted them before they sprung off.

monks & dogmonks doing prostrations

On our last day in Bodhgaya we returned to the stupa to make an essence of the Bodhi tree - we sat in meditation with the monks and nuns and watched the essence infusing in the sunlight.

a bodhi leaf

The Bodhi Tree essence is amazing. It enhances love - an overwhelming love that pacifies negative emotions. It helps us cut through fears and anxiety, and experience unwavering peacefulness, all-encompassing love, open-heartedness and tenderness. It also magnifies patience and the ability to accept others as they are.

Here are some more photos I wanted to share with you ...

Tara gorgeous stupasnun doing her meditation practice Maya, mother of Shakyamunibeautiful bodhi tree rootsSakyamuni feet with water lily offeringsgorgeous nun meditatingluscious bodhi tree reaching over practitionersBuddha (enlightened being) statueMay whoever sees this ...

Love + flower petals, 

katie hess

19 Responses

Laraine Webb

February 10, 2014

I am fascinated by abundance of life and beauty in that part of the world. I would LOVE to try an elixir from that wonderful tree!

Pam Ahern

March 22, 2014

I would really love some of the divine elixir. A little over a year ago we visited Cambodia and saw a bodhi tree at the Silver Pagoda on the Royal Palace complex.


February 06, 2014

So beautiful, thank you for sharing your amazing trip. I would also love a bodhi tree elixir!

Terri Fedonczak

February 10, 2014

Reading your story transported me to India, a place I’ve never been. I would love to go to India with you someday. But until then I would love a bottle of the Bodhi tree elixir! Thank you so much for sharing your stories, Katie! ❤️

Christine Mason Miller

February 05, 2014

I love seeing your photos. I just returned from India last week, and every night since I have only dreamed of India. It is an extraordinary place.

Bodhi tree elixir – yes please!!


February 05, 2014

Katie, Thank you for sharing your beautifully powerful journey with us! The energy is palpable from your images and words. I would love to have the opportunity for some medicine from the Bodhi Tree in the form of your new elixir!
With gratitude and blessings,
And greetings to all those I know out Lotus Wei Way ~
Mimi in NY


February 05, 2014

Thank you everyone for your kind comments. More to come … and I’ll be sure to make an elixir!


February 05, 2014

Lovely fotos….and story. Makes me want to go to Mohammed’s cottage. It’s been 23 years since I’ve been to India. Visited Sacha Sai Baba then.

I would be interested and if you could, would you post me and say a little more about it…as in what oils make it have all those aspects of “help!” I’m sure it’s also infused w/ your delightful energy as well…
Thank you for the trip to the past.
Karen in CA

Mary Anderson

February 05, 2014

Really enjoyed reading about your recent journey to India—loved the text and your gorgeous photos. I would be interested in the Bodhi Tree Elixir. Thank you, Katie for bringing India to life by sharing it with us <3


February 05, 2014

Yes please!! Haha what a brilliant idea! Thankyou so much for the tour and pictures of the famous Mohammed! Lovely. Superhappy New Year Katie for you and your work. <3


February 04, 2014

Thank you for sharing, we would love an Bodhi Elixir.

Jacqueline Fairbrass

February 05, 2014

Your story made me want to visit. And the photographs are simply beautiful. I am interested in the elixir. Thank you.

kristin shaw

February 04, 2014

hi katie! your story and photos are incredible! i’m aiming to join my husband on his india yoga retreat in the fall so i’m obsessed with everything india right now…i can’t get enough of the photos, the varied cultures, the beauty…


February 04, 2014

Just lovely! And, yes, I would be very interested in a limited edition bottle of Bodhi tree elixir. Thank you!

Victoria S Andrews

February 04, 2014

Beautiful pictures! I would be interested in the bodhi elixir.


February 04, 2014

I need all the help I can get. Willing to give this new elixir a real try.

Laura Easte.

February 04, 2014

Amazing story and photos. I am interested in the Bodhi elixir, it sounds incredible.


February 04, 2014

Thanks for sharing! I would be interested <3 in Bodhi elixer


February 04, 2014

Elixir ;)

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