So what do you get when you spend 5 weeks in India (besides a tummy bug)? Some reality changing scenarios, that’s what:
- I knew India was a mad place when I spent 5 weeks there in January. But it seems that much like the pain of childbirth (so I’ve heard), one forgets the extent of Indian madness over time. And so these last 5 weeks I was reintroduced to just how much India functions, and thrives, on chaos. It’s a place that I both love and hate – there’s a part of me that loves that everything functions with its own confused ‘system’ and rhythm, and can completely become part of the disorder and the ‘slowly, slowly’; and then there is a part of me that wants to kick in the teeth of a country that has so much splendour marred by so much filth and poverty, disorganisation and dishonesty.
- A yoga teacher training in India is a special kind of bootcamp. It’s intense, emotional, exhausting, plagued by illness (and daily conversations about diarrhoea and vomit), and neuroses about what to eat and what not to eat (accompanied by large amounts of anti-bacterial hand cleanser). It’s also, though, an amazing why to submerge oneself in yoga, break from reality, distance oneself from issues at home (and gain some much needed perspective), and take a month out of one’s life to indulge in life-changing experiences. It’s not for sissies.
- I was blonde the entire time in India, and my fellow yogis only knew me as a blonde. What a weird situation! It was then that I realised that although the experience was cool, I couldn’t identify with myself as blonde and I couldn’t recognise myself as blonde. Bizarre, but true. I think I felt a bit fractured and schizophrenic with platinum hair, which may have been a direct result of my wanting to eradicate and reconstruct myself after a traumatic few months at the beginning of this year – I fully became the cliché of the post-breakup reinvention, and although I’m not sure there is a cliché for this one (there should be), the post-biglove-ex-matrimony breakdown. Now I am back to a darker hue (although not my own), and I feel remarkably better in my skin … at least now I recognise myself in mirrors and photographs!
- How people come together to form groups always amazes me. It is of course no random event, and the same can be said for the group of amazing individuals that gathered in McLeod Ganj. It’s always a matter of truly understanding why one attracts certain people into one’s space and what they reflect right back at us. The lessons are not always easy, but sometimes the reflections can be delightful and affirming, as well as clarifying. I met some truly lovely individuals while away and the sadness for me is the fact that I may not see any of them again … we are scattered around the earth and came together for just one month of intensity in a Himalayan town (which already feels like some dream).
- I realised, while away, that I booked my second trip to India in a knee-jerk post traumatic response to two very large losses: one, the loss of a substantial and significant relationship, and the other the loss of a precious, love-saturated fantasy and considerable fixation for all of my twenties. At the time I dealt with both in a curiously (for me) rational and detached way, only to find that as always my body turned the pain into physical trauma, and there I was sobbing into my mat all the way over in India. I don’t think for a second that everything’s reconciled … it is one thing sorting things out while in another hemisphere, but an entirely different matter facing the reality when it lives in the same city. But at least I think I gained some insight, some perspective and perhaps some important knowledge about my own processes in relationships (and, an important part, who I missed while away …).
- And finally, although I immediately feel the need to book another trip somewhere, anywhere, I know that leaving doesn’t a) solve all problems, and b) doesn’t eradicate people. So here I am, back in Jo’burg, back to teach yoga and carry on through this dense 2011, preparing to stick it out without packing a suitcase (too soon).