Disclaimer: This blog post is confessional in nature.
You have to pretty open-minded when you're in India. There is a certain "go with the flow-ness" required if you are planning to have an enjoyable time. Goodbye personal space—hello several Indians pressed into places generally reserved for lovers. Oh, you don't like pooping in a hole without toilet paper? Or you're not into starving dogs following you around or trash everywhere? Wait, you don't like acrid smells accosting you at each turn? Now would be a good time to work on letting some things go, for instance: clinging to your cultural notions of cleanliness and personal space, desiring to be comfortable at all times, expectations about your experience, etc. the sooner you can detach from those types of clinging, the sooner you can begin to enjoy yourself.
Luckily I feel pretty capable of this sort of short term "letting go." I think I'm able to see India for what it is even if it makes me momentarily uncomfortable. It's so different from how my life is usually that it's somehow simple not to sweat the small stuff while I'm here.
But I had to come all the way to India to see what I haven't been so capable of letting go in the long term. To see some of my own personal painful clinging patterns took a complete change of normalcy.
When people first start practicing yoga, one of the hardest things to release or let go of are our previous patterns of holding tension and our patterns of breathing. Just telling someone that they are tense or should breathe to release tension isn't going to automatically make it so. It takes a realization of the disruptive patterns before you begin to release them. The same is true for many of our life patterns.
Whether or not we realize it, we continuously cling to our ways of doing things and notions of how we think things are/ ought to be.
When I got to India, I met up with my dear pal Veronika a few days before our training so that we could catch up after a year of not seeing one another. We talk about everything at great length. She's a great listener and we can talk about a single subject for hours. Or maybe days.
So. You guys.
I found myself quite regularly coming back to two subjects. At first a little too regularly. And then slightly desperately. And then. Geez, I could actually hear myself whining.
It took me thousands of miles and seven months to realize that I am not letting go of my past relationship. Or rather, I am not letting go of the plans that I had for the two of us—a family, a home, a life together. What can I say? The end of it was a pretty huge blow and I had thought we were going to be together forever. And I made plans according to my expectations. But we aren't together, which makes these plans obsolete. And it's time to let it go. Existing in a state of dukkha (suffering) because I'm unwilling to resist clinging to what could have been is no longer useful.
Additionally, I have realized that it isn't too useful for me to cling to the job/lifestyle/achievements that I wish I had. It's okay to dream of course and important to have goals. But it isn't okay to grasp for and cling to those things if you don't have them. It just isn't. You have to let them go and appreciate what you do have. Sometimes you have to let these things go while you're in India. Find your breath. Be love and peace. And let go.