Thursday, December 31, 2009

Feliz... return?

So, I’m, um, back from Mexico a little early. Make that a lot early.

It’s a little humbling to be typing that. The reasons are justified, I think—a horrible experience getting to my destination city, food poisoning immediately upon arrival, pick pocketing, etc—but I can’t help feeling a little defeated.

 I’ve always placed qualities like “determined,” “indefatigable,” “adventurous” on my “must-be!” list. I can’t help thinking that a younger, more inspired version of myself would have seen those experiences as minor setbacks and gone on with the trip as planned. I just couldn’t shake what had happened, though, and as I found myself crying the second night and just wishing I was at home with the cats, I realized I had absolutely no obligation to stick anything out.

 I got my butt on the first plane back to SoCal, my kitties, and my yoga. I’m so glad I did.

Still, that feeling of being defeated is hard to shake. A friend emailed me, saying, “you are lucky to be alive, in my opinion. You took a lot of risks on that trip.”

 I don’t think that’s the lesson here. I’ve done a lot of traveling (went to China alone when I was 20 and haven’t stopped traveling) and am a pretty smart girl. I feel like so many folks have this exaggerated idea of the dangers of foreign travel, and while I may have had bad experiences this time, I know that it’s an exception and not the rule.

I’ve already written about the idea of not giving into the fear, and I couldn’t help thinking of this again as I was driving home from yoga this morning, my first class since I returned. It was a brutal class—super hot, crowded, and you know how it is: your mental state really guides your experience in the classroom. I was not in a good place, as the cliché goes.

On the way home, I started beating myself up because my standing backward bend is still pitifully shallow. I was thinking about how forceful the dialog is for this posture: “Don’t be scared! Try to fall down backward! Just try to KILL YOURSELF.” Because of that line, I called Bikram “Nazi yoga” for a really long time. But I see now that the dialog is so extreme here because that pose seems unnatural to us. Our minds go, “No! I’m scared! Don’t go back far, take it easy now and make up for it later.” But the body needs and loves those backbends. The mind just has preconceived notions about what you’re supposed to be able to do.

I think that is the same attitude I am trying to take toward this trip. OK, so maybe I had a really crappy experience in Mexico and that it was appropriate for me to come home. But I can’t let this one bad experience sour me on anything: not Mexico, not travel, not going against the grain of traveling where I’m “supposed” to travel as a single female.

So, my mantra for 2010, at least for the first few weeks: “Don’t be scared! Just try to fall down backward.”

Feliz año nuevo!


thedancingj said...

"Don't be scared" is a GREAT mantra. I've been thinking of that one quite a lot lately.

By the way, "kill yourself" should really be "kill your self." You kill your (lowercase) self (your ego, basically), to get to your true (uppercase) Self. :) Most people don't explain that, though. Hmm, now I think I have topic for a blog post...

On the travel thing: first of all, as a girl who went to India alone at age 20, I totally relate to you! Second of all, there is a whole world of difference between "quitting" something (a trip, a job, a relationship...) and just not wanting to do it anymore. Sometimes enough is enough, you're finished there, and it's not a defeat. It's a decision, and a smart one. I think you know that already.

Sisya said...

When stuff happens, we readjust, we change plans. That's what it means to be flexible. It doesn't mean defeat. I'm glad you're back to yoga.

The Yolk said...

Thanks for the support, Sisya and DancingJ. It's good to be back to yoga. :-)

Great insight on the self v. Self. Yes, the ego needs to be beaten into submission, doesn't it? It wasn't until I came back to this type of yoga until I realized what a strong grip it has!