I have been in India for 24 days now. It has been rough but mostly because I am holding steadfast to old paradigms. Today, I had a major shift in perspective…
To understand where my mind had wandered off to in the last month, I’ve taken an excerpt from an email I wrote a few days ago to a very dear friend:
“I am so ready to be home. There are no grocery stores, no sanitary sources of food or drink unless it comes out of a box or sealed bottle. Try and imagine not having a grocery store. At all. Of any kind. Where would you get your food? My question exactly. I’m actually kind of worried about what happens when we run out of the food we smuggled in from the states.
Initially, the architecture and some cultural aspects were enough to distract me from what reality is like here. But as each landmark was checked off the “to-see” list, my world got smaller and smaller until it arrived at this…staying within the Embassy walls. Where there is a run down bowling alley that no one uses, a gym,and a dusty bar that no one goes to…it’s like a ghost town with a ton of people still living there. I know they are here, I see them in passing, but that’s it. I don’t know where they are coming from or where they are going. I feel like I might go insane; like I can’t think about it too long because if I do, I know I’ll start panicking, my mind spinning out into this cycle of claustrophobic thoughts and having no way out. I get the same feeling on planes…a situation where there is no option but to get your mind under control, even if that means blatant lies to regain control. Venturing outside in New Delhi is OK once every few days, for trips no longer than a few hours. There are so many people living in this city it is hard for my eyes to register all of them. When I go to the markets, which I will admit have the most amazing hippie ally stuff ever, they are fine until you can’t move because you are being swarmed with pushing people who are yelling all kinds of broken English phrases and shoving reusable grocery bags and watches in your face. They are aggressive sellers.”
Since writing that, the universe has sent some guardian angels my way, each angel arriving with a poignant reminder. Although essential to my journey here, the universe interpreted those reminder as little pop quizzes and hid them in quiet bits of advice or burying them within a email from a friend. All I needed to do was be quiet for a moment to understand them and take those reminders to heart.
Reminder One: The time I have spent in India thus far was a necessary process, as is most of life. This reminder came from my mom who, willingly or otherwise, feels the brunt of my unhappiness and discomfort here. Unsure of the right thing to say but knowing what is best (she is a mother afterall) her reminder came to me in passing, as she went to work and I saddled up for another stretch of wasted day (or so I had convinced myself).
“Think of being sick and not having salad dressing and coming to understand what it is really like in Delhi, having time to research yoga, think of those things as necessary for your yoga teacher training, getting those things out of your system in the comfort of your family home before going out into the world.” Duh, Allyson. I have been twisting myself into a big knot over my discomfort here when really, it has all been a blessing. And it begs the question, what is my discomfort over? One example I have been using is the food, specifically salad dressing. A strange item to obsess over but one that I feel represents the abundance that I am accustomed to. Wanting to adorn my first beautifully green and vibrant and alive meal that didn’t come from a box, I walked to the commissary on compound to buy salad dressing. Being about the size of an average living room, the selection at the commissary is limited. I was optimistic though and wandered the four aisles that make up the entire grocery store looking for the dressing aisle. What I eventually found on the bottom shelf of the third row were six bottles of salad dressing, four of which were Italian. Where was the salad dressing AISLE? I panicked and it has been my mantra of why I have disliked it here so much ever since. Salad dressing. Right. So, reminder one: spending this time in Delhi has been a necessary process, an initiation of sorts. Being stripped of “comforts” has brought about a hungry sense of resourcefulness…
Reminder Two: “You are an artist, Ally. Art is critical thinking, and you need to be creatively resourceful.” A fantastic reminder from my soul mate. Also reminded me of college, where my sculpture professor always told us that, after graduating with an art degree, we could put on every job application for the rest of our lives “Creative Problem Solver”. Employers eat that up. But really, that is who I am! That is who I have trained to be! A critically thinking creative resource-er. Business cards, please!
Reminder Three: Reading through yoga philosophy at 5am, I came across this:
“Surrender to a higher power. Regardless of what your religions inclinations are (or aren’t),Isvara pranidhana means that you should give up the illusion that you have control over everything in your life. How much time do you spend trying to control the outcome work situations, your interpersonal relationships? Wouldn’t it be much more peaceful to allow situations to unfold and trust in the power that made us? Can you believe that your life is unfolding just as it was meant to regardless of how much you attempt to control, or struggle with the outcomes?” – from yogacheryl.com
Of course! How could I have forgotten so quickly how easily life unfolds when you stop clenching, how silly the universe is, and how small the world really can be.
Reminder Four: My other soul mate, a true source of inspiration and deep thought (!), summed all things up in a reminder that universe decided to hit me over the head with:
“And you’re either doing this, or afraid to do this, but you should really take time to just be alone with your thoughts. Not thoughts on how to get food, but on who you are, what this experience means, and what you need to do next. What have you learned from your past, and how can you apply it to your future?”
Why am I in India? When will I be back? Where will I go from here? I do not have those answers and that is 100% ok because right now all that matters is this moment. And at the present moment I have my journal open to a page that has this written, my final reminder for today:
“Life Lesson!!! Most people try to have more things (like money), in order to do more of what they want, be more of who they are, and imagine happiness. Actually, you must first BE who you really are, then DO what you need to do, in order to have what you want.” I think I am at the “do what you need to do” stage.