I am home now. Began traveling at 5am from Rome to London to Phoenix, arriving at home in Tucson around 11pm. As Rome is 8 hours later than Tucson, that makes for 22 hours of traveling, approximately one day.
All in all, I do ok traveling/transiting. Having a meditation practice and a spiritual practice helps. I can always pray and meditate. I can always read and write. I can usually find a clear, uninhabited place in the airport for yoga asana when needed.
I am always doing something subtle for my body, but only do obvious asanas if I can feel inconspicuous. As I did handstand in the Delhi airport a few weeks ago (I actually found a private space), a rat ran across my inverted visual screen. Not close enough to alarm me, but close enough to remind me- “This is India”.
Yesterday in Heathrow, I found an area away from video screens and people and used the chair to hang off for a long, inverted stick pose and shoulder stand. Inversions really help keep up my attitudinal stamina and my digestive processes. Rama would be proud to see me using the furniture to great effect. Students of Rama can visualize me clearly! Terminal 5 in London Heathrow feels like a hermetically sealed spaceship, I did not think for a second about vermin.
There is of course an abundance of distractions and entertainments in the airports and on the planes to help you forget the fact that you are a confined animal for this period of transition from here to there:
There is shopping, very boring.
There are video screens, very boring.
There are people from all over, and different languages to hear- Russian, French, German, Arabic…
There are old people traveling alone who seem totally mystified, its not the way it used to be….
There are children dancing through the security arch, making the dour security guards laugh and smile. (If you get agitated or annoyed, just focus on the children, see what they are up to, they are always amusing themselves somehow and are quite adorable)
There are beleaguered mothers with tons of luggage and babies to neutralize.
There are business people in suits, with briefcases, laptops, phones, not wasting a minute- Oh what it would feel like to be in business class or first class where you lie down for the long journey- not to mention the real food they serve you there!
There are the real food restaurants now in the airport- fresh organic juice, miso soup, range-free meat. I would be happy to have a “wagamama” in Tucson or an ITSU. Both Japanese inspired.
Speaking of the Japanese, they win the prize for fashion, whatever they are wearing, boys and girls, old and young, expensive or cheap- very, very chic
There are “travelers” that tribe of people who look a bit like every place they have ever visited, look natural and hip and at ease with the world and all its craziness, look like they should indeed be allowed to roam the Earth perpetually in their own way, for their own purposes.
En route to gate B48, I assist a couple from South India who I realize are going to Phoenix- they are perplexed about why they were sent from this gate to the main area, only to be sent back. Terminal 5 is very modern, but not necessarily clear cut. It can take 20 to 30 minutes to get to your gate. They have been confused also by pronunciations- they speak English but misheard a sound and went way off course. We are all headed in the right direction now and in plenty of time.
They speak Tamil and are from Hyderbad- a city near where I was but did not visit. Tamil was the first language I had to negotiate on the trip (since then Hindi, Newari, Nepali, and Italian) so it was good to return to it. He is a structural engineer, she a housewife. He was interested in Vedic Astrology, knew his chart, had tested several different readers so was interested in my experience. She was not interested in the least in her future- but was delighted to see my interest in their culture. He was coming to the states for the second time and her for the first, to attend their sons graduation from ASU in “device physics”. In typical Indian fashion they invited me sincerely to the graduation- “please come, please do come!” And gave me an open invitation to Hyderbad- “anytime, really!”. She is called Rohini, which is a section of the constellation Taurus where the moon is exalted. Rohini is mythically the favorite wife of the moon, Chandra. He would like to spend all of his time with her, but is driven by his father-in-law to make his rounds to the many other wives. This is the story that gives us a myth for the phases of the moon.
Home- it feels good for sure. It feels like I have only been away a few days. It feels like it was enough time, nothing rushed. As I had hoped, it opens my mind, heart, imagination to other journeys.
Peter has moved my office, he now has the front office to himself and I have the yoga room. He has created a built in that is lovely and already inspires me in a new way. He has built a wooden security door in front of our glass front door and installed an alarm, there have been some home invasions around us this year. He has polished and cleaned my car so it looks new. The house is clean and cozy. I take a long, hot shower upon arrival. Peter, Emma, and Beanie (our dog and cat) sit on the floor in the bathroom and watch me. Sleeping in our bed is disorienting for some reason, where am I? It doesn’t feel the same as when I left. It feels a bit like I am drunk. I haven’t felt this disoriented in the 20 plus places I have slept while away, perhaps it is like a boomerang, it is all hitting me now that I am back where I started, caught by the hand that launched me 6 weeks ago. The dog sleeps on the floor, but by morning everyone is on the bed near me. Emma stays near me all day. Peter tells me after breakfast that she had a hard time, that she had a stroke, that he has been nursing her, that she is walking again. Yes, I could feel something going on with her and Peter while I was gone. I am sorry to have taxed her, but also know that is life, to be taxed and that she is aging, there is no way to stop that process. Meanwhile, there is love and that is what makes it all worthwhile.
Peter makes me his espresso in the morning (with beans that he roasts himself), the best in the world, better than Tazza D Oro in Rome for sure. We have apple pancakes for breakfast, he roasts chestnuts for a snack this afternoon, He makes pea soup for dinner. Could I have a better husband?
I have final thoughts about my travels of course that I want to share, but as I have already said a lot, I will keep it simple:
It is a blessing to be able to “go away”- on so many levels- a blessing:
People speaking English to you, as you don’t speak their language, what a privilege.
To visit someplace truly foreign and not feel like a tourist, what a difference.
To make contact with so many people, and to feel like everyone was special and significant in and of themselves.
To make lifelong friends and to also know some people will never be seen again.
To stay healthy through yoga, meditation, prayer, and positive thinking- not to mention good quality food and accommodations.
To stay safe while there are others, in many places besides Mumbai, in danger and peril.
To experience true hospitality
To be alone and not lonely
To have company in perfect ways
To have opportunity and to trust that it can affect those that appear not to.
I took “Autobiography of a Yogi” on my trip, by Yogananda- one of the first books that I read about yoga over 20 years ago. It is an amazing read and inspired me (and many Westerners) to walk a yogic path. When I started re-reading it again I asked myself if I was “jaded” now? If I was not so eager or willing to believe or pursue, let alone realize yogic goals- the primary one being self-realization. As I sit now, with enumerable experiences resonating in me from this pilgrimage, so much more than I could ever try to convey, I feel like that question is resolved. No, I am not jaded. Yes, I am ready to do something new to bring yoga to use and application in our world.
Many of you know I have been wrestling with the “what to do” question. I still don’t have it clarified but do feel like I have something gestating in a more material way than before. I will be reaching out to many of you in the near future to help me. To get your response to questions I have regarding what is needed (not another yoga studio/not another teacher training program), to get your opinion about various issues regarding business and organizational structure, to request your perspective and insight. My vision is to create a yoga healing community in some form. Yoga is a broad word for me, not just what comes through a teacher or a lineage but from the Sanatana Dharma- the eternal teachings that flow not just from the East but from all cultures and traditions. This will need to be financially viable, and yet not commercially motivated. A non-profit, but is there some new way to envision that? Many of the non-profits I admired have faltered with the weight of conventional organizational pressures.
For all who have read my journal, and all who have supported my journey, and all who have graced me with their wisdom or confidence- I thank you from the bottom of my heart.
May our shared journeys continue in new forms. May our bodies, minds, emotions, and spirit find new states of integration as we live the life we have been given.
May all beings be happy and free
Lokah Samasthah Sukhino Bhavantu