November 23, 2012 § 9 Comments
So, imagine this:
You wake up with a burning sore throat, after a night of listless sleep, because it’s hot and the dogs in the neighborhood have been barking at a dead cow for the past hour, thereby interrupting your precious sleep. You have to haul yourself out of bed to get to the shala for 6am led class, contending with the crowd and then meeting the intensity of a led class where you want to give of your best, even if you’re not feeling your best, thanks to the sore throat which feels like a raging fire. You give it your all, reward yourself with two coconuts, then head home for a shower and start your laundry for the day. Shortly after your shower, the power goes out, leaving your half-washed clothes sitting in soapy water in the washing machine. You think nothing of it, as this has happened before, and power always came back in 5, 10….perhaps 15 minutes. You go about your day, trying to ignore the pain of swallowing and in denial that this sore throat may be the start of something pretty nasty. You’re even more tired than what you woke up with, the led class having depleted those precious reserves of energy cultivated through sleep, but you can’t seem to rest against a backdrop of street traffic. You go have breakfast, then run errands, braving the immense heat of the noonday sun, the constant honking, the incessant, errant traffic, the cows, the people, the noise – everything comes at you at once, the moment you step out on the street and you do your best to stay focused, calm and collected. You return after a couple of hours, hoping the power is restored, only to realize that it’s still out, therefore, no fan (no relief from the heat), no Internet (the shame!) and your smelly yoga clothes are still sitting in that pool of water. Your phones are running out of battery and you start to get worried that you may not be able to speak with your partner that evening, another day missed because of conflicting schedules and poor WiFi connection. It’s dinnertime, and you give in to your cravings for pasta with fresh tomato sauce and basil leaves because you’ve had enough of Indian food. Topping the plate with spoonfuls of ghee is your highlight of the evening as you tuck in by torchlight in a dark, fanless room. You’re still keeping the faith that power will be restored before you go to bed, but after a whole day without, your patience is wearing thin. Your faith wavers. You’re not in the mood to read, to talk or to meditate. Just when you think that it’s all gone to the dogs, the lights and fan come back on and there is relief. Celebration. You finish the washing, hang the laundry and settle in bed for another night’s sleep. Only to be kept awake by the honking outside your window, heralding another sleepless night.
I’ve heard about how India has a knack for “pushing all the buttons”, but I never fully understood what that meant until now. It isn’t exactly a result of one particular event or characteristic of the place you’re in, but more like the cumulative impact of disparate events that somehow converge on you at a point in time. Being here is a real rollercoaster ride, and there’s no way to see what’s coming at the next corner. It’s no wonder that the spirituality of this country is grounded in finding your center and maintaining it, regardless of what life throws at you everyday. It’s a chance to really practice yoga off the mat, to be challenged in ways that the comforts of home protect you from, and in the process, learn how and when to let go. As my teacher wisely said in a recent email:
“…it’s not a yoga to be practiced in a perfect place where there’s no challenge to your inner peace. It is my own experience that they want to see how you find your focus when your inner peace is challenged. Because that’s the skill that will serve you wherever you go.”