At the beginning of May I am going on a very special trip. I’ll be visiting the tiny Buddhist kingdom of Bhutan which is tucked away in the Himalayas between India and China.
It is a unique country. The only one I’ve ever heard of that measures its success in a National National Happiness instead of a Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
The paragraphs below are from a terrific National Geographic article about its history.
Bhutan’s third king, had begun opening up the country in the 1960s, building roads, establishing schools and health clinics, pushing for United Nations membership. King Jigme Singye Wangchuck would go much further. With the self-confidence of a ruler whose country has never been conquered, he has tried to dictate the terms of Bhutan’s opening—and in the process redefine the very meaning of development. The felicitous phrase he invented to describe his approach: Gross National Happiness.
For many Bhutanese, this idea is not merely a marketing tool or a utopian philosophy. It is their blueprint for survival. Guided by the “four pillars of Gross National Happiness”—sustainable development, environmental protection, cultural preservation, and good governance—Bhutan has pulled itself out of abject poverty without exploiting its natural resources (other than hydropower, sold to India as Bhutan’s main source of foreign funds). Nearly three-quarters of the country is still forested, with more than 25 percent designated as national parks and other protected areas—among the highest percentages in the world.
I will be attending a Buddhist yoga retreat there. Needless to say, I’m thrilled. The culture, belief, landscape and spirit will be unlike anything I’ve ever experienced.
Cannot wait to return and share my experiences and what I learned with all my lovely friends and students. Stay tuned for updates!
Experienced a life-changing retreat or holiday? Tell us about it in the comments!