Cross Training

I’m leaving Bali.

My mind is already somewhere in northern Thailand, and it keeps drifting off to India. Not that I am wishing away a single second of the time I have left here, but I'm ready to get the momentum going again. I know I’ll come back to Bali, quite possibly very soon and for a long time.

Batu Belig has been a great home for me this month. My days are filled with yoga, seashell collecting and deepening my impressive tan – pretty much it is bliss. Last week I had two visitors, Elizabeth and Jason each came down from Singapore. Both attended my yoga classes and only one did so against his will.
Pande invited Jason and I to spend a day at his home. An addition to his house had just been completed and this required a ceremony before the guest room could be considered fit for occupancy. It was a really special day filled with friends, Pande’s wonderful family and roast suckling pig.

Bali is abuzz with ceremonies every day of the year it seems. There are temple ceremonies – celebrating a temple’s birthday, full moon ceremonies, Hindu holiday ceremonies, new house ceremonies - I’m not certain incense need not be burned if one buys a new pair of flip flops. Everything here is cause for celebration, warding off bad spirits and giving thanks – it really is a beautiful culture.

Wednesday night I taught a large class at Desa Seni as the full moon rose over the gardens in front of the shala. I had a wonderful time teaching and when it was over I was grinning from ear to ear. One of the students came up to me afterwards and told me how much she had enjoyed the class. She said that I reminded her of a teacher she'd had in California and since he moved away she hasn’t found another class she felt as connected to. We chatted for a bit and low and behold I came to learn that her teacher is MY teacher – Steve Roger.

The reminder of my beloved yogi and the enormous compliment that I could make someone feel as connected as he does, was enough to make my heart soar. I felt such a light and joy that night and any doubt I was still holding that this is the right and long-term path for me evaporated under the full moon.

My week continued like this, lots of reminders of home and signs/encounters pointing me down my path. I have this deck of spiritual guidance cards my friend Kristin turned me onto. They are frighteningly accurate. So while I am generally skeptical of a sheets of laminated paper with spiritual mumbo-jumbo printed on them… I have come to have some faith in this particular deck. Wednesday morning I pulled a card before sending them off to the boat for safe storage and to lighten my load in anticipation of trekking through Thailand. The card was all about being silent and meditating. Basically it said – be still and quiet now, go within.

That same evening I had dinner with Stephanie who is another instructor here in Bali. She is just about to return to the states after two years of traveling through yoga. Our paths are almost identical except that she has a 24-month head start on me. As it turns out she has been to all three of the retreat centers I have been thinking of attending.

Somewhere over appetizers she asked me if I have ever considered doing a silent retreat and told me about one she did in Thailand. She was very encouraging and as I listened to her the image of that card popped into my head. My spiritual mumbo-jumbo light bulb came on.

I came back home, hopped online and registered for a ten-day Vipassana silent meditation retreat. The idea to do this had been floating around my head since way back in the first week of yoga school, but I guess I wasn’t ready to take the leap until I was sitting at the dinner table with someone whose path is so parallel to my own. I am equal parts scared and anxious to do this meditation as everyone I know who has done one tells me how intense, life changing and mind altering it will be. There is a very real possibility that I won’t be able to complete it. Spending 10 days alone inside your own head is a scary place for most of us to go.

In my typical hot tub/cold plunge form…I will go straight from this retreat to the King’s Cup Yacht race in Phuket. Silent, pious, monk-like existence, to raucus, excessive, ridiculously fun yacht racing. This is my life, hope you are enjoying the ride.

One of the big jobs I am faced with on this path I have chosen is removing guilt from my life. I am a guilty kinda girl. For years guilt has been my constant companion… it was there over my morning latte, there when I cashed a check, cut a phone call short or when I bought a new pair of stupidly-expensive jeans. Guilt was never more palpable, then the wee hours of the night when I was lying in bed feeding it every drop of my soul I could spare. Marry a nice boy – feel guilty because some of your friends are as of yet unwed. Get a good job – feel guilty I didn’t have to suffer more to get it. Get divorced – feel guilty for being so selfish as to think there might be more for both of us.
Guilt still creeps in on me from time to time. Like when faced with the decision to eat roast suckling pig, or when I skip a day of asana practice or when I have many glasses of wine, but it is not a constant any more.

A friend here in Bali and I were discussing guilt the other night as it pertains to the yogic ideal and I said - it’s a balance and he said balance implies guilt. Balance conjures up the idea that there is some good and some bad, thus something to feel guilty about. He offered up ‘cross training’ as an alternative concept. And I gotta admit... I think he is on to something.

So here I go again, cross training my way around the world.

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