Rain falls on me and then stops. It starts again 15 minutes later and along with several other locals, I huddle beneath one of the shop awnings - they all seem to have one as if they prepared for the frequent rain spurts a century ago when some of these shops were likely built.
All of these things have served to help me become more open-minded, less judgmental and much more balanced. While these intangibles were certainly not conscious reasons for me to go to a spa, I am struck by how transformative my destination spa experiences have been.
I first heard of Ladakh in the early 1990s when anthropologist Helena Norberg-Hodge, on a book tour, spoke of her decade's worth of experiences in this remote region north of the Indian Himalayan range.
More than being aware, mindfulness is often thought of as a state of being fully in the present moment, free from habitual reactions, conclusions and judgments. This can come in handy when we are in situations that we can't change.
I think it is time to admit it: I'm nearly a professional volunteer. I haven't always been. For a long time I managed my impulse toward service in a way that allowed me to keep my normal life pragmatically rolling along steady, even occasionally service-oriented.