Yesterday we went for a drive to get some supplies in a nearby town. Not wanting to use google maps we decided to try and find our way via the scenic route. A series of turns brought us to a road which snaked along a wide river bank. This is great we thought, just us, the road, the gum trees and the quietude. It didn’t take more than a few turns to realize we weren’t heading in the right direction. Instead of freaking out we laughed. It’s easy to lose your way when you don’t know where you’re going.
As we continued to follow the road we eventually came back to the highway. Far from our intended destination, we headed to a place I’d remembered visiting in my early twenties.
The town was nothing like I’d remembered. The place looked worn out. Rather than hightail it out of there we drove to a lookout. The view was breathtaking. It was dotted with estuaries, untouched coastline, mountain ranges and the vast smooth ocean. We breathed a sigh of relief. Taking in the view at sunset was like tasting honey. Everything felt sweet, warm and sticky. We couldn’t stop smiling.
As we drove home, we talked about our love for adventure and exploring new places and how funny it was that we set out for one place and ended up somewhere else. If you think about it any journey could be like that if you stay open.
When I started yoga I remember feeling like that too. I had no idea where I was going with it. All I knew was that it felt good to do it and made my mind clear and calm.
As I started studying with more teachers and reading any book I could get my hands on things became more complicated. I learned about the aims of yoga, the yamas, and niyamas, the purpose of yantras and mantras. I cluttered my house and my mind with books from every tradition. I practiced feverishly and imagined that one day I would get ‘there’ wherever I thought ‘there’ was. The weird thing was the more I looked and practiced the emptier I felt.
Being diagnosed with a chronic illness and questioning the meaning and purpose of yoga was a big turning point in my life. I knew there was more to yoga than I could find in books or online. I knew I needed to learn from an authentic tradition and from a real living teacher. But at that time, I was too scared to go to India.
Then I met John. I had never met anyone like him. He was happy, content, dedicated to his practice and constantly sharing profound life-changing insights all gleaned from over 7 years of intense study in India with his Vedanta master. He was as passionate as I was about yoga. Had practiced it from a young age and had gone on the quest I hadn’t dared to attempt.
We were in Bali swimming around in a pool (as you do in Bali) when it hit me. If I was going to continue to teach I had to go to the source, which meant going to India and studying with John’s teacher.
A year later I took the 21-day course. To say that it changed my life would be an understatement. Since my exposure to the orthodox tradition of knowledge called Atma Vidya, I haven’t looked back. I have found a profound acceptance for my condition and no longer rifle through yoga books seeking answers. I live life sweetly, accepting that whatever comes my way is a gift. I’ve taken responsibility for my life. Things aren’t happening to me, creation isn’t out to get me. The choice of where to go, what to do, who to serve and how to respond is mine and mine alone.
Our little adventure yesterday was such a powerful reminder of this. When you make a choice and stay open, the heart has its own compass.