One of the best things about travelling is gaining perspective on your life; seeing the bigger picture. Being out of your usual environment gets you out of your comfort zone and facing those fears that don’t generally arise when you’re cruising along in your daily life. Even more so, immersing oneself in an educational holiday in India certainly packs a punch!
Having spent the last 6 weeks in Mysore learning how to teach Yoga (check out Yoga India), I have learnt so much…not just about Yoga but about myself and LIFE!
Here are a few epiphanies that I have experienced along the way:
Thoughts become things. The more you think about something the more it eventuates in your life, no matter how big or small. The power of the mind is massive and it is greatly underestimated. An Indian doctor on our course shared a little insight with us during class; she explained how an elephant in captivity is restrained by a small metal chain around its foot. The elephant is so strong and could easily break free from this chain in an instant, but it doesn’t realise it’s own strength. The same goes for our mind. We don’t realise it’s capacity and potential, and that we can break free from it’s constraints so easily but choose not to try. Often our lives are dictated by reckless mind chatter and if we let our mind loose like a drunken monkey, our life will unfold in the same way. But if we take hold of the reigns of our own mind and learn to control it though mediation, yoga, pranayama or whatever floats your boat, we can manifest what we truly want in our lives.
True happiness comes from doing what you love. There is only so much another person can make you happy. If we rely on others for happiness, then we are sure to be disappointed over and over again. At the end of the day, all you have is YOU. Of course, you can be in a happy relationship or marriage or be surrounded by fantastic friends who make you happy, but if you don’t feel happy on the inside with yourself and what you do with your life, you won’t experience genuine, authentic bliss or ‘ananda‘. Just like they say, money doesn’t buy you happiness. A rich man with all the worldly goods and pleasures can be the most unhappy person in the world. Money can certainly make life easier and more comfortable, but it doesn’t make you happy, at least not in the long run. Yet, when you absolutely LOVE what you do with your life and you are using your potential and talents, you will inevitably radiate and attract even more happiness, laughter and love into your life. While being here in India, not only have I loved doing Yoga everyday but I have loved interviewing people for my upcoming documentary, meeting new people and learning new things/cultures etc. In doing what I love, I have felt extreme peace of mind and effortless ‘being’.
This too shall pass. This is another piece of wisdom our doctor shared with us during the course (she loved telling us stories!). It’s a simple adage, but a profound one at that. She said how the mission of a Yogi is to be steady and constant and not cling onto highs or lows in life but to remember that everything we experience passes; everything is impermanent. It’s so easy to feel over-the-moon happy when things are going great in your life, and to feel devastated when things go wrong, however if you adopt the Yogi mentality and remain indifferent, you will experience more peace and less moods. For those who are strongly affected by the highs in life, they are also strongly affected by the lows. Life is like waves at the beach – there are always going to be highs and lows, ups and downs, dumper waves and baby waves, but if you adapt, adjust, accommodate and remain calm, you will stay afloat and enjoy the ride. In the words of the Yoga Sutras – ‘vairagya’ or detachment – is the key to not clinging to the good or the bad. Try not to be attached to any moment and remember no matter what situation you’re currently in…this too shall pass.
Sound mind, sound body. A strong body is a great help in overcoming fear complexes as well as feeling fit, healthy and confident throughout your life, however maintaining peak physical health all stems from the mind. If you are agitated, frustrated or feeling depressed or anxious, chances are you won’t be feeling strong in your body or confident with your body image. The key is to start in the mind and the rest will flow. Coming to India, I wasn’t in bad health but I wasn’t feeling fantastic either. I came with the viewpoint that Yoga is all about asanas (postures) and building up physical strength and flexibility. This, however, is just one aspect to Yoga, or the tip of the iceberg. Asanas and pranayama (controlled breaching techniques) are just some of the preparatory steps to reaching a strong mediation practice, which ideally leads to enlightenment or ‘samadhi’. Essentially, if you have a healthy mind frame, your body will reflect this especially because our cells have memories. A consistent yoga practice helps you attain a strong mind, which will inevitably build up your physical strength and agility. How to do this? Abhyasa, abhyasa, abhyasa – practice, practice, practice!
Sending you all lots of love, strength and peace from afar!