Week one in Bali down.
I can't say this week has proven to be how I envisioned it. I thought I'd be laying out all my challenges, creating a strict plan to follow, and knocking things out one by one, and bragging to my friends and family about how productive I've been.
Reality: Of seven, I had four completely sleepless nights. I slept through yoga twice. I missed a workout I signed up for. I didn't journal. I only went to the co-working space twice. I didn't do a lot of things I thought I would.
Also reality: I met 26 new people. I publicly unveiled my insecurities, my hopes, and my wishes for the month. I did make it to yoga (once). I went to something called Ecstatic Dance (more on that later). I tried a ton of new food. I meditated. I earned my PADI Open Water Scuba Certification. I slept in. I relaxed. I forgave myself for the alternate reality I could be brooding over.
By day 2, I realized week 1 was going to be about adjusting. Adjusting to this new setting, adjusting to all the new people, adjusting to a new schedule, etc. And so I forgave myself for not really having a plan, and just went about my days. I referenced my tasks, keeping mind to dabble in things here and there. And today as I reflected over this last week, I realized there was a common theme in many of the challenges I faced these last few days.
Now a little bit about this one. For anyone who knows me, you know I have a racing mind, one that gets away from me so quickly, I never even get the chance to digest what is happening here. In the present. I'm anxious, I'm over analyzing, I'm worried about the past and the future. I'm ON -- constantly. I like to think of my mind as this spoiled, little child that I've allowed to run rampant, destroying things in his path...courage, confidence, ambition, comfort, love...and all I ever do is apologize to those around me. "Sorry. Forgive me. He's special." And time and time again, he runs away, so far from my reach, that I end up just hunkering down in pure exhaustion and defeat like, "Just go. Do whatever you want. You've already made a mess of things anyway."
I've always felt like, my God, if I could just harness this energy, these abilities, I could do so much good. I could move mountains.
So as much as I want to create discipline in my diet, my physical activity, my whatever...it became so evident that quelling my mind and being present was by far my biggest demon to conquer. I had a few glimpses of what that looks like.
- Yoga - I've dabbled in the past but decided to opt for a Yoga for Beginners class at Yoga Barn to get the foundation down solid. Somehow, I stumbled into a class lead by Mark Whitwell, who apparently is a big deal. He spent a lot of time talking in the beginning, which I wasn't keen on until he started asking members of the class questions, in efforts to get to known them and applaud the various parts of the world people had traveled just to practice yoga in Bali. He came across a man from India. A muslim. And the instructor followed with, "You're so lucky, you know. Islam is the most Yogic religion out there. You get to perform the act of supplication and movement 5x/day." It made me smile. I never once thought of it that way. We watch so many people buy into the hype of yoga (myself included -- and don't get me wrong, it is a beautiful thing for those who sincerely practice), and I felt silly realizing I had some of these conventions sitting right at home for me. The rest of the class was spectacular. I lived in the present for an hour.
- Ecstatic Dance at Yoga Barn - Well, I was in for a treat when I signed up for this class at the same yoga studio. Every Friday, they host Ecstatic Dance, which is two solid hours of straight dancing. Free dancing. No speaking. Just dance. I went with some girl friends from the retreat, and wow, what an experience. If you haven't experienced Ecstatic Dance at least once in your life, you're missing out. I spent the first 30 minutes completely in my head. Watching the regulars go wild...some were stretching on the floor, some were just walking around the room, some were partnered up in interpretive dance, some were making snow angels in what was clearly pools of their own sweat...honestly it was just an anything goes, no judgment zone. Drug free. Alcohol free. And full of a whole lot of I honestly don't know. Once I got past the judgment (and probably a little bit of envy that anyone could just let themself go like that), I made my first attempt to remove all restraint. I closed my eyes and just moved. I moved however I wanted, wherever I wanted, and very quickly realized not a single soul was looking at me. No one cared what i was doing (even if they did, there's a no speaking rule). It was SO freeing. I lived in the present for two hours.
- Meditation - Oddly, or not so oddly, in reviewing my challenges, two of my most highly valued mentors had suggested meditation. Both are BOSSES. Both are female. Both are powerful. Both make me want to be the baddest B I could possibly be when I'm in their presence. Katia, one of the cofounders of Birchbox, where I used to work, and Joanne, a dear friend and colleague, were telling me to shut my mind OFF and be present through daily meditation. And I wasn't going to say no. Since last Tuesday, I've meditated for 10 minutes every day. I'm not good at it. I hate it. It's frustrating. But I think that means I'm doing it right. I think. I'm taming the child. I fought to live in the present for 70 minutes total.
- Diving Certification - I hate to admit this to most people because of how ashamed I am, but for an incredibly long time, I have had terrible fears of open waters. I got a really bad jelly fish sting when I was 8 that left me motionless for a week. Ever since I've stayed away from open waters, never truly learning how to swim, and only in recent years feeling comfortable enough to tread water in the deep of a pool. Along with numerous occasions of quelling the impulse to burst into tears when someone playfully pushes me into a pool or dunks me under water. Anyways, I've spent the last 3 days determined to get over the fear and get my open water diving certification. There's a lot of anxiety surrounding studying and preparing for worst case scenarios in staged settings, but the moment I got to experience schools of fish swirling around me, I didn't have any room for worry. There's something incredibly soothing about being forced to control your breath until it becomes second nature, understanding your body at a deeper level and the physics of respiration under water, and just getting so lost in a world that is your not your own. You're just a spectator. For the first time in a long time, I realized my mind was completely still -- just living in the presence of this parallel universe of life. I lived in the present for 72 hours.