Saturday, December 10, 2011

distraction detraction

Friday night at Fluid, the nearest premier nightclub--in fact,
the only nightclub in the area.

Though many of us come to Mysore to focus on our practice, one of the biggest ironies of being here is that Mysore itself is land-mined with distractions. A simple thirst for a coconut can turn into an unexpected adventure, beautiful and wondrous, but sometimes totally out of step with intentions of quiet, rest and practice, self-study and a deepened understanding of yoga within the context of ourselves.

I feel like I've actually done less than my previous trip, the first two-weeks of which I was a hyper-tourist/yoga student who was making the most of my first trip to India. I've now mostly dropped the tourist part. I spend two hours plus every morning, six days a week, excluding moon days and ladies' holiday at the shala for practice. Including singing class, Sanskrit and chanting at the shala, I spend an extra 10 hours of what I feel makes up my "formal" self-study. Factor in an hour for conference a week, that's still only 17 hours out of a 168-hour week. Even if I sleep half that time (I wish!), that still leaves 67 hours. Where in the world does all this time go?

Its different for everyone. There are many around here who seem extremely skillful at managing their time and conserving their energy. I think these people are incredibly stealthy and discerning, they appear only when they totally desire it, they engage only when necessary. I wish to God that I were one of these gifted people.

Instead, I'm one of the ones scratching her head, after one of those seemingly interminably long lingering breakfasts, wondering where the last two months have gone. Over the course of this trip, I've ended up in the mall, in temples, a couple of cooking classes, the palace for the Sunday lighting, a bowling alley, a night club, obscure food joints half-way across town, and--once--at the horse races. And I'm slowly catching up on seasons of television shows that I didn't even know existed 2 months ago. I've been party to some really fun social situations, and am often with friends, mostly having to do with eating. More than a few times I've caught myself wondering if I have somehow completely failed in my original goal, had I lost sight of my purpose of deepening my practice?

At this point I could berate myself for being a "bad lady," a hack of a yoga student--and I have, at times, gotten to this point, totally guilt-ridden at not having accomplished some goals that I'd personally set for myself. One of these goals was to religiously blog, which I obviously haven't done in a very long while. So yes, I have failed to some extent.

In my defense, however, I feel like I am still on course. But like many of the paths I've chosen, its never so straightforward. Some of the things I have engaged with may seem like petty distractions, but they are still a part of this unorthodox means of schooling that exists in this Mysore yoga pressure cooker.

In truth, my interactions with people help me understand more about the practice itself, not to mention how it fits in my own life. Every experience is a part of the Mysore experience, whether its on or off the mat. And some of the activities, well, they're just fun and light and I am so grateful to have such moments that make me happy and keep me grounded. It's good to laugh, its good to eat, its good to dance.

Still, I understand that a good balance must be struck between my yoga practice and my practical everyday life. My intentions must never be forgotten. Its also important to go with the flow of energy, where my heart wants to go, what things it longs to uncover. I realize that being a student of life doesn't mean I have to always be studying; life is not so serious. Our life lessons are meant to be enjoyed. Everyday should be honored with celebration--a healthy combination of quiet and boisterous merry making--because its truly a miracle to just be here, to have the time to explore who we are in such a magical place, to have the opportunity of self-discovery thrown at us in such a myriad of ways.

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