I have been traveling by myself in Europe for exactly 8 weeks now. If I had to describe my experience in one word, I couldn’t. It’s been all at once exhilarating, empowering, challenging and exhausting. I haven’t written in a while for a few reasons; one being that I am typing on a tiny iPhone, but moreover, I’ve had a million things to say and not a clue where to begin. So I guess I’ll start at the obvious point; Yoga.
My yoga practice has taken on a different form lately. I’m off the mat for longer than I have been in years. My yoga now is a matter of putting into practice all of the fundamentals of grounding, centering, internal focus, presence, breath work and equanimity in order to support myself in this mind-bending, heart-melting emotional stew that I’ve thrown myself into. As I bounce from one place to the next, I seek to find stability. With conditions constantly changing, I seek to find the center of stillness within me. Within the comfortable din of a language that I don’t understand, I draw my attention inward to better understand myself. In the moments of fatigue, frustration, and overwhelming emotion, I find myself taking deeper breaths. I am using the tools of yoga to create contentment in my life now, which is a far cry from where I was 2 or even 4 months ago.
It hasn’t been easy in a lot of ways. I feel odd writing this, as if I should censor myself and instead paint for you a picture of quaint cobblestone alleys lined with flower merchants and cafés, magical markets stocked with fresh fruits and vegetables, heaps of olives and dates and every variety of cheese that you can imagine. The smell of sautéed garlic, lots of local fish and meat and wine found among centuries old architecture, with views of the Mediterranean just around the next corner. And maybe these are the kinds of things you want to hear, and I certainly don’t blame you, it is a beautiful picture. But even as I experience the beauty of all of these things, I am simultaneously experiencing a deep loneliness, sadness, and confusion.
I considered keeping this from you, perhaps as an egoic attempt to preserve the likely unrealistic picture you may have in your head about me and my journey, but I have made a commitment to the truth. I’ve made a commitment to be truthful in my own life, to seek the truth in others, and as a teacher, I’ve made the commitment to deliver truth to my students. And the truth is that I’m struggling. I’m struggling with my shyness and my insecurities, my inabilities, my ego. Sometimes all I can do is sit down and cry. I write this not as a sob story designed to gain sympathy, but to remind myself that it’s ok to feel grief and frustration and pain and tiredness. And it’s ok for you to see me in these perhaps unsavory states, because they are all on the psychic and emotional spectrum of a whole human being. In this truth, I remember that we are all things at all times, and those of you who really know me, know that I embody this truth.
I’ve had more opportunity now than I ever have had before to really be with these aspects of who I am. But I see them, and I get to know them and I try to be kind to myself about them. I get lost in the streets and explore the markets by myself. I make jokes to myself about myself. I have only myself to rely on, to blame, to be with. But even in the most frustrating, exhausting and lonesome moments, I know that I’m not alone in my struggle. Because even if we are surrounded by friends and family and familiarity, we are all just trying to navigate the intricate, sometimes unintelligible maps of our own hearts and minds. And that, my friends, is not an easy journey to take.