I had the privilege of traveling to a few different countries this summer. Some exotic and beautiful, some rustic and antiquated, all incredible opportunities for personal growth. In each of my travels I realized that no matter where we go - there we are. Sounds like a no-brainer, but how often are we *really* present in our bodies, our minds, and our emotions? How easy is it to run away from our fears and our feelings and use travel as an excuse to do that? In actuality, we never *really* go anywhere because we are always right here in our awareness. The challenge is opening up to what that holds.
As a young adult, I traveled to far away places to avoid seeing myself completely. I wasn't ready to build a family or have a career straight out of college so I moved half way around the world to teach small children English. It was exactly what I needed at that point in time. 15 years and a lot of self-study later, I use my time away to witness what I am truly experiencing within. I realize that if I cannot do that, I cannot authentically be present as a mother, a teacher, a partner, or friend.
In Sanskrit, the word "avidya" translates to ignorance, but it really means ignorance of who we really are. It is defined in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali as one of the main causes of suffering. Because we do not know the perfection of our true essence, we cling, we reject, we put blinders on and we govern our lives from fear. It sounds easy to move through in theory; however, it isn't as easy to open our eyes to seeing things as they truly are. Doing that also means seeing our vulnerabilities, our imperfections, and our fears. It means looking at truths which might be painful or scary. But as a teacher of yoga and meditation, that is the work that I signed up for. I chose to awaken to what is real and honest and pure, not what is always convenient. And most likely - if you are reading this - that is what you signed up for in your life as well.
When we choose to live a spiritual life, we are basically choosing to become the witness to all things: the light and the dark, the love and the fear, the peace and the aggression. We know that to truly get to source, we have to have an intimate understanding of these dualities and know that our power is in holding the space to experience them all.
This is why, for me, spiritual retreats are so profound. We create a safe space to explore what is blocking us and consciously make the intention to move through it. It's not always bliss and beauty, but it helps us to truly understand the lasting effects of Santosha, or contentment. The next time you take a trip either alone or with loved one(s), notice what comes up. Notice how you react if and when it doesn't all go as planned. Notice if you find yourself getting disappointed with everyone & everything for making it less than what you expected it to be. The goal is not necessarily to change the outcome, but to hold the space to see it. Let your vision be your power because once it is clear you become free.