RYS 200, 500 - Yoga Alliance, USA
”Do you ever feel that, no matter what you acquire or achieve in your life, there’s still something missing?”
This morning I was sitting in the peaceful oasis of the Pyramide Café in Rishikesh, sipping on a glass of Kombucha-tea and as my eyes took in the first sentence of the book I was holding, I wanted to jump out of my chair and scream: ”Yes! Yes, sir ! That’s me!”.
The past week a growing sensation of dissatisfaction has arisen in my heart. Normally this is something positive; an opportunity to once again rub the Aladdin lamp and create something even better through a new desire. But the sensation has more been of emptiness, of anti-climax and a very uncomfortable suspicion that I could make a hundred and one new wishes and still not be happy.
As I see it; satisfaction is a state of mental contentment and normally linked to some sort of achievement, while happiness is an emotional contentment – and a skill - linked to an experience or sensation. Like many other people, westerners in particular, I am excellent at doing but not at being. I simply don’t know how to just be, enjoying the present! This is indeed quite embarrassing when one is attempting to walk the path of yoga, where mindfulness is quite essential and more or less expected of you.
I used to run a lot before. I put on my running shoes, plugged in my earphones, turned up the volume of some heavy hip hop and ran… I ran through thunder and rain, through Spanish summer heat, through migraines, through heartache, through anger. From past to future I ran and the present was swirling by like confetti, so fast I only caught glimpses of it. I ran through days, weeks and months as if their very existence bothered me. I ran to the future, convinced that a pot of emotional gold would be waiting at the end of the rainbow.
I would’ve kept running till my heart stopped, hadn’t my right knee protested so loudly. I loved reaching that state at the end, when you’ve pushed your body so far that the mind finally falls silent and sweat, panting and your own heartbeat is all that exists in your universe. Endorphins rushing through your blood stream, creating an addiction. The problem is of course the same as with most drugs; you need to constantly increase the dosage to reach the high that was so easily achievable when you first started.
Once again; insatiability is stirring in my heart. ”More, more, more”, she whispers…The impulse to run is moving like a snake underneath my skin, playing deceiving games with my mind. A desire for movement, change, destruction… But I can’t outrun myself! None of us can and maybe that is why many of us are here, in Rishikesh? Most people here are running from something – consciously or subconsciously. The Indians I meet often mention family issues as their reason. Westerners are unaware of themselves as runners and think they are coming for yoga. But yoga can be practiced and found anywhere, hence most of them are running from who they are to who they want to be.
What I realize is that my running has taken me to a place where I have to remain until the desire to run has vanished completely. This is where I had to come, not to teach asanas but to change mindlessness to mindfulness. There are no distractions to run to and very few things to arise desire. I don’t have family here and only few (but lovely) friends… if I don’t learn to find peace in the present, to appreciate the small and simple things here, then no other place on the planet can teach me that.
I was admiring a flower at the Pyramide Café today. It’s color was a bold pink and it was magnificent and beautiful and I realized that when we are watching flowers we are fully appreciating their present. We never think about the bud or ponder on when it will fade… we just see it as it is now, smell it as it is now and feel the soft petals as they are now. What if we could learn to appreciate everything around us like that, each moment as a flower to be admired?
Rishikesh… this beautiful, complex little town by the Himalayan foothills is nothing less than a divine Mindfulness Academy and some day I hope to graduate from it with pride and a new level of understanding.
Yoga Teacher & Nutritional Therapist