Each time I return to the states after being in Costa Rica I notice myself feeling low. I notice that I easily judge myself for not carrying the high from my travels back home. It can feel easy to associate the joy I experience running freely barefoot on the beach, the yumminess I feel laying in the sunshine, and the peace I feel in the quiet of the jungle with who I am. Consequently when I fail to feel those same emotions running errands in traffic in a rainy city, I question if the “travel me” ever even existed.
It’s perhaps even worse when I’m dissatisfied or unhappy while traveling. How can I not be my best self when I’m in the environment where I’ve been my best self before? How can I not relax and ease in the moment I’m on a beautiful beach?
Since beginning my yoga practice two years ago, I understood that ups and downs are inevitable in life. One day the sun will shine and the next a storm will roar. Someone may sing my praises and in a second another will tear me down. I knew that I had the power to choose happiness regardless of these outside circumstances. However that often left me feeling more frustrated. If I know that I have the capacity to feel good anywhere, why can’t I make myself feel good anywhere?!
When I began studying the yoga sutras in my yoga teacher training at Pavones Yoga Center, I found a beautiful, gentler perspective. The second sutra reads “yogash chitta vritti nero dhah” which I interpret as “when we embrace the oneness in duality, witnessing the fluctuations, feeling the fluctuations, accepting the fluctuations, without attaching ourselves to the fluctuations, we find greater expansiveness in all that is.”
The fluctuations are inevitable. Everything in the world has an opposing force. However in labeling things as good or bad, acceptable or unacceptable, desirable or undesirable, pleasurable or painful, we experience joy when the positive things happen and suffering with the negative things happen. However what actually made us feel happy or unhappy lay in the significance we applied to the experience, while the experience itself remains neutral.
The meaning I have chosen to assign to this ancient chant as it pertains to my life is as follows: if I acknowledge the beauty in opposites and the wholeness in everything, allowing myself to experience the highs and lows that will inevitably happen, without attaching judgment or my perception of who I am to them, I allow myself to find greater expansion in how I experience happiness and peace.
In other words, we can feel the wave, ride the wave, be one with the wave, without becoming the wave.