I recently had the opportunity to finally meet my husband's extended family and explore a new country. While the trip was incredibly fun, filled with laughter, joy, celebrations, and family, it also challenged many of my beliefs and personal values. As I look back on my experiences I am intrigued by the internal struggles I encountered. There were numerous debates going on in my mind and all of them collided and complexed the other ones. What I thought I knew to be true was no longer certain.
For a mild example, a thought process I had was: "Do I speak up and say I'd rather eat oatmeal for breakfast? Or is that not surrendering to the moment and letting things just happen? But I also need to practice self care (a part of ahimsa) and I know my body will feel better if I eat oatmeal instead of dosa. Or, maybe I'm just attached to my normal breakfast food and I need to let go of my attachment to oatmeal? Also, will I be causing harm (ahimsa again) to Athai's feelings if I don't at least try what she made for breakfast? But then again, if I am acting with the right intentions (taking care of myself), is it really ahimsa?". Just the simple idea of what to eat for breakfast brought up all of these philosophical questions. You can only imagine the internal conversations I had when personalities clashed, when my core values were being tested, or when more important decisions were needing to be made. It was exhausting and totally confusing! I am so thankful for my patient, kind, and thoughtful husband who was able to guide me through these times of mental paralysis.
It still amazes me how being placed in a brand new environment and having all of your routines shaken up forces you to see everything from a new perspective and to question your own behaviors. It truly opens your eyes.
Some say that life teaches you the lessons you need, but I'm not too keen on this concept as it brings to mind a visual of someone being in charge and determining what I need (a discussion for a future blog post). Instead, I like to think of life as a mirror. It reflects you and your actions back at you. It is then up to you whether or not to see the reflection and to do something with it.
On this trip I had a good look at my own reflection and how it interacts with those around me. I was confronted by my own biases, my attachments and aversions, my health, the happiness of my family, and so much more. It was a reminder that the true practice of yoga happens in times of challenge. When life is easy, practice is easy. But when you are pushed into uncomfortable situations, that’s when the real work begins. Sometimes it can be overwhelming as it was for me at times during this trip. But with a great support, I was able to make it through, and you can too. All we can do is keep practicing. Keep questioning. And take a look at our reflections when life holds up a mirror.