Why India Weirds Me Out

KajYogaI am very lucky to have Kimberly Johnson guest blog here. I hope you enjoy her post. You can also visit her site and blog here. Kimberly has been practicing yoga for the past 17 years and teaching for the past 11. She has studied personally with the carriers of the Krishnamacharya lineage- Pattabhi Jois, BKS Iyengar, and Desikachar. After years of practicing traditionally from New York to California to India, she went through the initiation to motherhood. The energetic rearrangement of pregnancy, birth and motherhood, brought her to a new phase of self-inquiry. She realized she needed a whole new approach to her yoga and movement practice, her health, and womanhood itself. She brings in-depth anatomy studies, an incurable love of India, and a love for helping women navigate the waters of modern life guided by ancient wisdom. Pretty much every time I come back from India, I am weirded out.

I hold eye contact a little too long.

Lots of long pauses in conversation.

I eat ice cream because I figure if I am going to have diarhhea anyway, why not just eat what I want and what I didn’t have? So bean burritos and ice cream.

I thought it was just the last time I came back from India – the time when I was seriously f*ed up from a guru thing—that I was acting like a Moonie. But then I remembered a time when I was 19 and came back from my first trip. My mom took me to her therapist who handed me a magazine and I said, “no, thanks, I’ll meditate.” I was serious. And I did.

After being in the inner world for a long period of time, the outer world is jarring.

In retrospect, I think it was genuine introspection sprinkled with a tad of affect/pretension. I am grateful to my parents and friends for accepting me in all my sancrosanct namaste-ness.

However today I realized there was some wisdom in my post-India behavior.

This morning, I taught a class, sent my daughter off with a friend, changed clothes to receive a new Rolfing client, brought in chairs and a table to the yoga room so that I could sit and talk with the client, gave the session, called the client a taxi and realized I hadn’t eaten yet today. So I had three amazing Brazilian bananas and went to try to “get something done” before my daughter came back. I wasn’t sure how long it would be before my friend would bring her back. Those periods of time are always the hardest because I can’t seem to get deep into anything, like projects or practice, when I am not sure of the time frame I have.

And a voice inside came, “just sit down and meditate.”

It felt so natural and obvious. Sit down until she comes.

My mind (and I am guessing your mind) always provides the excuse of “not the right time” or “not enough time”, but the truth is those “right times” are hard to come by. Our mind provides us with a million other things we could and should be doing. But if we run around trying to satisfy that manic voice, we miss out.

The truth is: We DO have time and time actually expands when we are present with it. We all have one minute at a stop light. We CAN go to the bathroom for five minutes. The shower. Boiling water to make coffee or tea. There are infinite moments in a day, but we mindfully “spend” them.

What is really the point if we are running around disconnected but fulfilling our roles as parent, worker, partner, friend, etc. but we are not really present or enjoying any of them? So we are basically taking care of business and getting things done but not depleted and exhausted by the end of the day.

Here are a few things that have worked for me to fit practice into my day.

  1. Practice first. Right when the baby takes a nap, or the kids go to school, or while you water for tea is boiling, sit for five minutes first. There are a million things that might call (dished, phone calls) but before you “do” them, prioritize your practice.
  2. Stop beating yourself up over not having a home practice and practice with a friend or carve out time for one class a week. (or more if that is possible- but we can all find 1 ½ hours once a week) We often have an ideal of what we “should” be doing. Bag it, and do what works.
  3. Less really is more: 10 or 15 minutes is enough time to sit, enough time to do a few salutations, or a couple poses that you are now are specifically good for you. When you set out to do less, you usually do more. But when you set out to do more, you often don’t do anything at all.

Be overly forgiving with yourself. All the emotional backlash, judgements, and guilt just creates more junk to weed through later. You want to create a positive association to practice. Soon you will build momentum as something deeper than your thinking mind will crave the practice.

Every once in a while, just close your eyes and tune in. Listen. Feel.