I’m back from Outer Space, or more correctly, Mysore India! What a trip. My first foray into the greater world, I jumped in with both feet. Now I can claim to be a (sometime) world traveler. I learned a lot and got to spend a month’s time slowing down and reducing distractions. What I didn’t know before this trip is that you can’t really divest yourself from the “problems” of living. I could argue that this is basically a matter of attitude, but that would be too easy. As Sri Patanjali teaches, mental wrinkles and ruffles can be suspended- the real practice is knowing what is just right in the present to do so. Discrimination.
The trip in itself was quite an education- India is an exercise in patience and I tried my best to be respectful and productive. All the typical situations came up- money is volatile or difficult to obtain, internet and phone can be unreliable and for once in a long, long time, I was in a neighborhood with lots to offer but limited travel abilities. I’ll admit I was too chicken to take a rikshaw. : ) At worst, my trip was urban camping. At best, the daily practice of yoga with hundreds of other people from all over the globe was very reassuring. I feel very lucky to have been graced with everything I needed to make this trip and see it through. Gratitude. And you know, you might need less than you think you do to make this journey and experience, should you get the opportunity.
In Conference, Sharath repeatedly told us in many examples that we’re confusing ourselves with externals and ego- everyone gets points for wanting to figure out this “enlightenment” thing, or at least get something out of their Ashtanga practice. But consider this: Practice is all. A guru can point the way but not give you the “secret”. Nobody has a patent or copyright or claim. It’s not a particular asana. There’s no shortcut. Experience is where you grow. Be empty and flexible enough mentally and what’s already there will appear. Patience is gold. What exactly IS equanimity of mind to you? In a nutshell, “99% practice, 1% theory”.
In my experience, I went in on the first day with what I thought was a pretty solid practice. Anything I thought I “had” was quickly surrendered. It gets very hot in March in Mysore. I practiced my “golden bubble” skills in the shala since everyone is packed in doing their practice like sardines and it’s a different place every day- you may be next to everyone else in the room at least once. And the sweat! Oh my! Instead of feeling down about “losing skills”, I realized I had to be receptive to new information- definitely an ego trade off. Want to learn? Figure out what you’ve been given, not cling to what’s maybe known or extra information. Don’t let your presence harden.