Post India Lesson #2: What's so Pressing?

I’m driving I-90 towards Spokane Valley. It’s 3:30 in the afternoon, and I’m on my way to teach people to be present and to relax in a Yin Yoga class.

As I’m hurtling down the highway, I feel the urge to make a call. It feels very important. I MUST get in touch with Ann, Volunteer Coordinator at the men’s prison where I teach yoga once a week.

My right hand flies from the steering wheel, starts to dig in my brown leather bag on the passenger seat.  The desire to contact Ann immediately is insistent.

Before my hand finds my iphone, I hear a loud, stern voice in my head say, “Do NOT make a call now. You are going 60 MPH on the freeway. THAT is how accidents happen.”

“Oh right,” I think to myself.

My hand glides back to the steering wheel. I grip it firmly like a young girl and say to myself, “DO NOT make any calls while you’re driving. That is how accidents happen.” As though I am repeating my parent’s mantra to myself.

I have to concentrate.

I have to focus to over-ride the urgency of making phone call. I continue to talk myself down. “You can talk to her tomorrow. This is not a critical situation. Why do you need to speak to her now anyway?”

Just 10 days prior, I was in India.

I was flowing. I felt so at-one with everything. I moved from moment to moment with the grace that raptor birds ride the wind.

I’d landed myself in a small village surrounded by jungle in Southern India for 3 weeks of Panchakarma – a deep Ayurvedic cleanse for body and soul. To my dismay, the Ayurvedic Ashram had internet. Sketchy though it was, we could still connect to Facebook, and Whatsap when the power was on.

For the first few days I got sucked into the Facebook vortex of what was happening at home. Until I noticed that the constant connection with some place other than where I was kept pulling me out of my real time experience. Three days of that and I had to disconnect.

Just to keep myself accountable, I made sure to announce it on Facebook that I was cutting myself off.

It took a bit of time, but slowly I really began to enjoy the art of lying around, looking at the palm leaves sway in the wind, or listening to the symphony of bird calls at 6 am as the sun was rising. Watching the darkening afternoon clouds billow in the sky with anticipation of rain became a highlight of the day. We’d all gather on the veranda to wait.

At meals we often ate in silence and I discovered the pleasure of really tasting my food – the slippery texture of ochre blended in a curry sauce with a dash of cumin. I began to hear the sounds I made as I ate – the chewing, then swallow and how swallowing makes the ears burst with sound.

What felt so easy in India, with the heat, the fact that all my meals were being made for me, and that I had no “to do” list except to get to my treatment each day, feels somewhat elusive now back at home. I find my meditations filled with “great” writing for my next blog (If only I could write it down while meditating!) my meal time seems chockfull of the day’s to-do list in my head, and I notice the insistent urge to “do” something productive presses firmly on my existence.

So, in moments like I had while driving to class, in which I’m about to multi-task in a dangerous way, I feel grateful to wake up momentarily, and to remember to do just one thing at a time. Take it in. Enjoy what I’m doing with focus and presence.

 Even if it is only in snippets, I’m grateful to be jolted out of my slumber to “be, here, now,” as Ram Dass would tell us. 

It’s all we’ve got. This moment. Why clutter it up?