Part of my story is time spent in India in 2007. I lived in the mountains at an Ayurvedic hospital + retreat center (also a tea plantation) where I became certified to teach yoga and as an Ayurvedic therapist. Up until this point in my life, things were hectic. I went to India to completely immerse myself in the yogic lifestyle because I needed to. I felt I needed to get as far away from my life as I possible could, and to put myself in a position where I could not escape making the changes I needed to make. I recognize not everyone has an opportunity to do this, and I have learned one doesn't need to travel across the world to create change within. As Jon Kabat-Zinn wrote, "Wherever you go, there you are". During my time in India, I detoxed on every level, experienced spiritual activation, learned more than I could ever remember, humbled myself, and developed a strong foundation for healing. When I returned from India, I was once again faced with my life - the one I had created for myself before leaving. I found the deep truth that it's much easier to meditate on a mountain top in a beautiful, far away land than it is to do so in your every day life and environment. While in India, I didn't miss drinking alcohol, or feel like I needed to, because the triggers (and my drinking buddies) were removed from my situation.
About a year and a half after returning from India, I found myself teaching yoga and meditation in a maximum security women's prison. I did this for about two years. I have written about it in part 2 of My Journey Into Breathwork, if you're interested in hearing more about that. Prison is an extremely chaotic, loud, violent, unsafe place. It is not a place one can let their guard down, find quiet, or get a good night of sleep. An inmate is controlled and looked down upon. I'm curious what thoughts you're having as you read this... if you are feeling in any way like a prisoner deserves certain (negative) treatment, I invite you to pause and consider a few things. Have you ever done anything that potentially could have gotten you in trouble, like drinking and driving or taking illegal drugs? And what would you do if your life was threatened, or if your child was harmed? One thing I learned in prison is that most, probably all, of the women (inmates) were essentially there because of trauma. Childhood trauma and deep core wounds which led to things like substance addiction and / or being in abusive relationships with people who harmed them and their children. Unfortunately the prison system is not designed to help people heal, and further exacerbates the trauma, keeping them locked into a system nearly impossible to escape from. But I have digressed, let me return to the subject.
Something else I learned going into the prison is that it is possible for someone to find an untouchable peace within themselves, even in the most chaotic environment. Even when they have experienced and done the unspeakable. This is profound.
Within every single one of us is the capacity to find this untouchable peace, appreciation for life, unconditional love. You don't need to travel to your idea of paradise, and no one can do this for you (or give it to you). We do this by focusing on our internal world, sitting with and acknowledging our wounds and uncomfortable truths, finding compassion and forgiveness for the self, and breathing life into the body. As I write this, many people around the globe are in government or self-imposed isolation. There is an incredible amount of fear within the collective, which may be heavily affecting you in addition to the depression which can accompany lack of physical connection. This is why I believe this work is more important than ever, and the opportunity is here to do the work. If you find yourself within the confines of your home, you can create your own little paradise retreat center. You control the sights, sounds, and information which comes in. Turn off the TV and turn on some healing frequencies (see my last blog post). Connect with a healer, teacher, community who will support you, nourish and feed your soul. It can be incredibly difficult to focus within, to put ourself first and make the choice to assume responsibility for our own healing. As a society, we are taught to distract ourselves, to give our authority over to others, to put ourselves last. When you make the choice to be 100% responsible for yourself and your healing, everything shifts. You are incredibly powerful, and once you know this everything changes.