Of Relationships, Attachments, and Love

The first week in Mexico, I often found myself looking over my shoulders to share some things with Nipun. Only that he was a couple thousand miles away. :) Sometimes it was funny, sometimes interesting, and sometimes just plain frustrating –- that need for comfort, advice, and his laughter that often lightens my heaviest burdens. 

No matter how independent we are, relationships tend to groove us in the habit of relying on the other person for certain things. There is a part of it that’s very natural and yet there’s a part that has a potential to turn authentic love into clingy attachments.

Attachments are worthy of a closer look, from time to time. For Nipun and I, it isn’t that uncommon to spend extended periods apart -- which naturally inspires that type of introspection. But generally I’m the one at home and when you’re going about your life in the usual comfort of your routine, you don’t notice some of the attachments in the same way. This trip, though, has helped immensely in taking a closer look at some of those gray areas. I’ve undoubtedly strengthened certain muscles of self-reliance that were sitting idle for a while.

I've always insisted in entering any relationship out of joy and out of service to help each other walk on the path. After continuously practicing this for a while, the "what do I need from this relationship" naturally turns into “What can I bring to the relationship, and how can I help you reach your higher purpose?” Then, you trade in the mundane insecurities for the simple joy of being alive together, and the relationship can truly begin. The love progresses from being partial and fractional to being spiritual and whole.


Holding Our Intentions

“We must set our intention, and then hold it continuously without wavering,” explains the Sadhu (yoga teacher) energetically, as I try to hold the warrior pose as if my life depended on it, trying to pay no attention to the burn in my legs. After about a century passes, I’m allowed to move back into the soothing downward dog and catch up on breathing just for a moment. The hands are glued to the mats, with the fingers spread apart. His keen eye notices every time the palms lift up even a little bit. Whether I’m in a comfortable pose or the “how am I going to get out of this one”, he reminds me: “You must be constantly aware of the four corners of the hands, and remember your intention to hold them there. This is the base for all other movements today.” 

I notice how quickly I forget to hold them down fully as I try to adjust my body into myriad other positions for the next two hours. Sadhu, like an eagle doesn’t skip a beat and pounces on me the second I’m careless. “Once you’ve set an intention, you have to learn to hold it and bring meaning to it -- otherwise, before you know it you’ll be going wherever the wind takes you.”

Words of such great wisdom -- that I reflect on way past the time spent being upside down or tied in knots, it’s exactly what I needed to hear today.


Tikal, "A Place of Whispers"

Tikal, which means a “place of whispers,” is the largest and most impressive ancient city of the Mayan Civilization. Part of Guatemala’s 222 square mile Parque Nacional Tikal, this Mayan ceremonial city sits on lowlands surrounded by the virgin rainforest with thousands of plant species including the gigantic ceiba tree, which is a sacred tree for the Mayans (copal incense is made from this tree for the ceremonies, the sanctity of it reminds me of the “sacred tree” in the movie Avatar).

Ceiba tree at Tikal

Foot of the Ceiba Tree (huge)
Thousands of structures have been uncovered while thousands still remain underground hidden in the lush jungle. One of the thirteen most powerful energy vortexes on the planet, it continues to awe visitors from all over the world.

The precision and mathematical genius with which these were made rivals the Egyptian pyramids. Built as early as the 4th century, on an average the area gets over 500 earth tremors a year, but the structures remain earthquake-resistant. Constructed with limestone using only stone tools these structures mapped out the Earth’s revolution around the sun (365.24 -- more accurate than the western calendar), recorded the orbital cycles of many other planets, and predicted when the earth and sun would align with the center of the Milky Way (an event that happens every 28,500 years and is scheduled to occur in 2012). All of this along other critical information is encoded into the buildings, calculated without using any modern instruments.

In front of one of the pyramids in Tikal
There are several main temples, the guide explains. “Temple one was to open the chakras; Temple two was to “cheat death” (if you had not figured out your life purpose yet, you could go there and fast and pray to be given more time); Temple three was to open the third eye, to see the future; Temple four was for flowing with the harmony of the universe and finding the balance (it’s aligned with Venus and Jupiter).”

Numerous books are written about the magnitude of Tikal but it still remains a mystery as to why the Mayans abandoned the city about 500 - 800 years after they built it. Popular theories include: global warming; droughts; volcanic eruptions in Asia; they simply left based on the guidance of their calendar and after encoding all their knowledge into the pyramids they resorted to living simpler lives in the remote jungles; or they evolved into higher consciousness and “disappeared”.

In any case, there’s much to learn from the footprints of these indigenous ancestors of humanity. Scientists have barely begun to scratch the surface of this vast storehouse of archaeological information and spiritual understanding.

Sacred gathering area for the Mayans at Tikal


Casa Guatemala on Rio Dulce

Absolutely nothing compares to a boat ride early in the morning on Rio Dulce (the Sweet River), twisting and turning through the 45 km long river that gives life to many of the villages alongside. The lush mountains surrounding the edges look magical as pelicans and egrets fly on both sides. Fields of water lilies extend across the green waters. It can easily be a scene from a movie.

I visit two NGO’s in the villages: “Casa Guatemala”, a school and a home to almost three hundred children, where I met some of the most inquisitive little kids; And "Ak-Tenamit", a Co-op for indigenous Mayan communities, specializing in handicrafts and tourism. They provide youth with vocational training and also run a clinic and work on gender equity programs. Beautiful people.

I’ve been really bad at uploading photos, so below are some pictures from the day:

Rio Dulce in the early morning; curious kids at Casa Guatemala (this boy kept posing for different pictures; Water lily field; and my cabin for the night complete with a little pond in the back where I spotted a turtle.

Rio Dulce at sunrise (Guatemala)

Kids playing at Casa Guatemala

Kids at Casa Guatemala

A bird making her way on the Rio Dulce

Colorful plant life surrounding the Rio Dulce

My cabin for the night right on the river :-)


Does This Path Have a Heart?

“This question is one that only a very old man asks. My teacher told me about it once when I was young, and my blood was too vigorous for me to understand it. Now I do understand it. I will tell you what it is: Does this path have a heart? All paths are the same: they lead nowhere ... in my own life I have traversed long, long paths, but I am not anywhere. My teacher’s question has meaning now. Does this path have a heart? If it does, the path is good; if it doesn’t, it is of no use. Both paths lead nowhere; but one has a heart, the other doesn’t. One makes for a joyful journey; as long as you follow it, you are one with it. The other will make you curse your life. One makes you strong; the other weakens you.”

(From, “the Teachings of Don Juan: A Yaqui Way of Knowledge”, by Carlos Castaneda)


That's One Smoking God

The Trek Stop is a small family-run lodge in the jungle that rents eco-friendly cabins to their visitors. I’ve never stayed in such a place and certainly didn’t expect to in Belize. The place comes with open air, solar-powered showers and compost toilets, where instead of flushing you use wood chips (surprisingly clean). There’s also a garden with various medicinal plants and herbs. The only downside is that a tarantula has been spotted so you have to make sure you carry a flashlight at night and know where you’re stepping. It is the jungle after all. I spend two nature-ful nights here breathing in the fresh air before making the short journey across the border to Flores, Guatemala. (I also visit the local hospital on one of the nights for a bacterial infection but that’s a whole another story. I am completely healthy now so nothing to worry about, just part of traveling).

Lake Peten-Itza is surrounded by many small towns and Flores is the pit stop to get to Tikal (the largest Mayan ruins in Guatemala, made famous by the movie Star Wars). I immediately fall in love with the cobblestone streets of Flores with little cafes lining the streets. People are friendly, almost oblivious to the tourists that come here. Not many speak English. It’s a small town and everyone seems to know everybody else.

There’s a big celebration tonight, an initiation of a sacred Mayan ceremony to pass the traditions onto the youth. Everyone is invited. I go with a few friends that are traveling together. We’re given a private tour of the town information center. One of the rooms contains a small statue of Maximon (pronounced Mash-ee-mono), believed to be a Mayan and a Christian God. Christianity started to spread with the Spanish invasion around the mid-1500’s. Many Mayans started practicing it out of fear but created their own version, almost combining the two religions. There are many conflicting stories about who Maximon actually was, but he’s famous for the types of offerings that people bring to him: mainly cigars and liquor. He’s known as “The Smoking God” amongst the travelers. I try to suspend all my eastern beliefs for the moment (where it would sacrilegious to bring alcohol near any deities) and see what I can learn from this experience.

Maximon statue 

As the ceremony starts, the priest is slowly and deliberately setting up the fire in the middle of the street with the offered cigars and candles of different colors laid out in four cardinal directions (Christian influence): Red ones for the hopis, black for Africa, Yellow for Asia and Mayans, and white for Europe. He’s praying for the equilibrium for everything, the whole universe not just the Mayans. The ceremony starts with an effigy of a tall woman in a white dress, which anyone can pick up and put on and dance to the live marimba music playing. Laughter infuses through the streets when anyone picks up the effigy and does their version of the dance. The locals cheer each other on. A few little kids try it to the applause of their parents and friends.

After and hour or so the fire is finally ready, the priest and his teenager sun come out all dressed up with facial masks painted on. They circle around and bow down and kiss the ground in each of the four directions. I’m not exactly sure what they’re reciting since it’s in a Mayan dialect. The priest picks up the rum(?) bottle drinks it and spits it onto the fire. He does this a few times. After about half hour of this, they ask for volunteers. Before I know it the priest is walking over to me and hands me some seeds and instructs me to walk around the fire thirteen times, making a wish each time and throwing in the seeds. I’m relieved when a few other people follow in the same manner behind me. All of a sudden, it’s personal and truly feels like a sacred moment. I send out my wishes for the universe quietly and as mindfully as I can. The ceremony ends as casually as it had started and people move on to eating the tapas that are being sold in the streets.

I later learn from a wise Shaman that the offerings of cigar and liquor are symbolizing the things that you wish to be taken away from you. So in essence, you’re giving them to Maximon to help you get rid of them although I can’t say that this is how it’s regularly interpreted by the locals. It makes me wonder about how I’ve arrived at many of my own beliefs.


Mayan Teacher of Love and Oneness

Quetzalcoatl (or Kukulcan) was born of a virgin birth and lived an intense and often painful life amongst the Toltecs (who are the ancestors of the Mayans). It’s believed that it was when he appeared among the Mayans that their rapid expansion of consciousness began (around 250-830AD). In his life he reached enlightenment and brought forward very clear teachings of oneness and has been compared to Christ, Budhha, Muhammad, and Krishna. He’s often represented as a “plumed or feathered serpent” merging the earth with the heavens and unifying all duality -- spirit and matter, light and dark, good and bad, right and wrong.

Here are just a few of his words, similar to Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. Some sound very familiar while others take a little while to sink in (especially for the Western mind):

God is one. He does not demand anything; He does not need anything.

Know the honorable condition, and that it is good. Do not commit adultery; do not become drunk; do not deliver yourself immoderately to gambling nor subjugate yourself to chance; do not mention your lineage nor your virile condition; do not be indiscreet or cowardly; do not strive for first place.

How good if by your side the positive word is spoken, the word that causes no harm. If you transmit it, do not enhance or diminish it; say only the exact word. Be aware of your empty and distracted word. For those only provoke perversion. They are not serene and straight words.

You will not forget the elders, the poor, the suffering, the unhappy ones; the ones that have not found home and are living in confusion…

Do not search excessively for a good appearance. For silently He will take you as you are, in any place, at any moment…Love one another; help one another. For it is false to reject those around you. Give alms to the hungry, even if you have to give your own food. Clothe the ones in rags, even if you have to go naked. Help the ones who need you, even if you have to risk your life. See that you share both one flesh and one humanity.

Do not go into someone else’s coffer. Do not support yourself from someone else’s plate…do not take the lead. If you are given that what you need in the end, do not be mad. And if you are given nothing, be grateful anyway. Heaven wanted it that way. It is deserved.

Do not be sad for human pain and misery; do not be sick and tormented because of it. Is it that only compassion and blandness should be our faith? Be a warrior.


Caving into the Actun Tunichil Muknal

As the van moves slowly down the windy road, Abraham turns back to the group and jokes that he’s taking us to “the underworld.” In the Mayan tradition things that are below the surface like caves are considered to be the openings to the underworld, where you are forced to deal with the world of darkness, sickness, death, and fear. For the Mayans, ours was not the only world there were nine other worlds below and thirteen above. And they believed that this world was transitory and they would move onto other worlds. Death was certainly not something to fear.

I have been inside many caves but this one is different. Discovered only recently (in 1989), Actun Tunichil Muknal (also known as the ATM cave - about an hour and a half from San Ignacio, Belize) was a sacred temple for the Mayans twelve to thirteen centuries ago. The high priests were the only ones allowed and they would make the hard journey deep inside to commune with their Gods and make offerings. Filled with relics of the past, today only a handful of guides like Abraham have permission by the Department of Archeology to take people in for a tour.

Mouth of the ATM Cave (San Ignacio, Belize)
After parking the van the eight of us on this tour start the forty-five minute hike up to the cave, feeling both a little bit of trepidation and a lot of excitement. We arrive at the mouth of the cave ready with hardhats with headlamps. The first glimpse of the hourglass shaped cave entrance with water effortlessly flowing out is beautiful. I spot little fish that survive in these waters and try not to think about what else might be able to survive here. I’ll be waist-deep in it for the next four hours. I quickly wad through the water to get to a shallower point where I can stand and hold onto the side of the cave. We create a single file line as instructions are given by the guide and then repeated several times by others for the person behind them. “Watch your head; Do not step on the rock to the right; Be careful with your knee; Use your arms to pull up on the rock; Sharp rock on the left; Watch out for everything.”

Minutes inside the cave I look up in awe of the grand rocks high above that have taken hundreds of years to form. Stalactites and Stalagmites reach vertically and spread out and almost connect at different points. I immediately feel like I’m treading on sacred grounds. We trek through the rocks with the river turning and twisting all around us, water gushing louder in certain places. Every now and again the guide stops us to take a look at a rock with his flashlight, many shiny crystallized formations in the shape of jellyfish, trees, and waterfalls.

About a mile into the trek, Abraham turns his flashlight off and asks us to turn our headlamps off also so we can get a sense of how dark it really is. I’m surprised to see myself switching mine off without hesitation and two seconds later its pitch dark. You can’t see your own hand much less the person in front of you. Abraham continues talking and sharing more about the Mayan culture. The Mayan priests would walk this darkness with torches. I recognize that I’m literally standing “with” two of my biggest fears right now, the darkness and the water and feeling oddly fine with it (not to mention being in a cold cave). He continues talking for at least five minutes with the lights off. I’m reminded of the importance of overcoming my fears. All of our lives most of us try to seek comfort and don’t want to do things that are uncomfortable or make us uneasy. And before we know it, these little unnecessary fears build into big ones and cling on to our minds and create a permanent space there. Perhaps these corners of our mind were the “underworlds” that the Mayans referring to.

The lights are finally back on and I can slowly make out the shadows in front of me. After walking for another forty-five minutes, we hike up an impossible looking rock to arrive at the main “Cathedral,” where the guide asks for to remove our shoes and put on socks that he was carrying in the dry sack. The socks prevent the caves from getting impacted by the oils from our feet. He also hands us our cameras for this portion of the cave since it’s dry. I’m amazed to see that there are dozens of clay pots that the Mayans used to make offerings to the Gods just lying around. Instead of being behind glass at a museum, these are lying exactly where they were found with a little orange tape around each area. A couple of caves later, we find two skeletons from sacrificial ceremonies, generally of enemies captured from other tribes. The last bit is a long climb on a wooden ladder up to a tiny area about twelve feet by four. Once you get to the top there’s a full skeleton known as the “crystal maiden” because of the way the water has been flowing over it some parts of the year, has created sparkly crystals across the bones.

The inside of the cavern, the dry part

Pottery used by the Mayans centuries ago in the ATM Cave
It is still difficult for me to imagine that sacrifices were part of such a rich spiritual culture. And yet from the reaction of other people in the group, I feel that it’s also a part that often gets more hyped and sensationalized than the truth. All-together there were only fourteen skeletons found in this cave. As long as man has lived, it has not been uncommon to capture the enemies. Mayans made them an offering to appease their Gods. Many people would also cut themselves and offer their own blood as a sacrifice. People believed that if they were sacrificed, they would be born into a better world, considering it a good thing. They did not believe that the death was the end-all as we do today.

More significantly, these caves were used for solitary prayers and meditations to get in touch with their Gods. Priests would often times fast for days before they would embark on the journey to these caves. They would bring with them corn and squash and other vegetables in the clay pots as offerings to the Gods. They especially prayed for rain because of the droughts during those times, and would often return back to their village with an exact answer of when it would rain. When it rained at the time that they predicted, the people started to see the priests as their conduits to the Gods.

We came back out of the cave to civilization to find that the sun was about to set. It feels like I journeyed back in time and felt privileged to see a glimpse of what life might have been like twelve to thirteen centuries ago. It was an added bonus to tap into my own fears and glance them in the eye if only for a few moments. The beauty of facing and overcoming our fears is that along with the freedom from what we are most afraid of, there is an opening for the heart to expand wider and deeper which enriches all other parts of our lives.


The Road to Caye Caulker

I awoke from a short nap on the bus ride from Chetumal, Mexico to find that the passengers looked drastically different from just a half an hour ago. The classic Mexican features were now replaced with mixed Africans (Caribe) and Spanish descendants and were quietly getting on and off the bus, a lot more reserved than their neighbors. Mothers with babies clinging tightly to their arms; Young Africans with sagging pants trying to imitate their favorite singers; Women in colorful head dresses. The only sound in the bus came from the small video screen at the front of the bus playing songs by Ludacris, Rihanna, among many local singers. Scenes of flashy cars, jewelry, women dressed in scanty designer clothes, almost taunting the poverty that most of the passengers are living in.

Belize is an anomaly in Central America. Once ruled by the British, English is the most common language here. Queen Elizabeth still sits proudly on all the Belizean dollar notes. Other languages spoken are Spanish and Creole. Garifuna is also spoken by a few and unfortunately it’s quickly dying out.

The bus reaches Belize City just in time to catch the last ferry to Caye Caulker, a small island about 45 minutes away by water taxi. After a 12-hour travel day, we’re welcomed by golf-cart taxis looking for passengers, there are absolutely no cars on the island. The main mode of transportation is bicycling and your own two feet, which is not a problem since the full island can be walked in about two hours. Food comes fresh at a leisurely pace and no one will bring you the bill until you specifically ask for it. One end of the island was split by a hurricane a few years ago. They did what any red-blooded Caye Caulken would do -- they put up a shack lounge calling it, “the Split” where people hang out until late night with Reggae and Punta Rock playing in the background.

Malik climbing a tree (Caye Caulker, Belize)
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It’s the most laid-back place that I’ve ever been to in my life. Time is not a hot commodity. Kids named Malik will want to teach you how to "climb the tree like an Iguana." Alfred, an old man with a grey beard, dreadlocks, and clear eyes from the “Go Slow” art gallery reminds you that the motto here is to slow down. Everyone has time to chat, no one’s in a hurry to get anywhere. And if you try to walk too fast, you might just walk yourself off the Island.

Art Gallery (Caye Caulker, Belize)
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I finally had a chance to visit the famous Mayan ruins of Tulum, which also happens to be a very laid back town with the same name with beach-hut hotels. These ruins in the eastern Yucatan Peninsula are spread out along the coast with the Caribbean sea as its back drop (quite literally).

Every time the topic of the Mayans comes up, inevitably the conversation leads to 2012 -- believed by many to be the end of the world (except the Mayans themselves it seems).

Contrary to what Hollywood would have us believe, for the Mayans the 2012 date marks the completion of a World Age Cycle (like many cycles before). Rather than something to fear, we can understand the 2012 prophecy as signalling to us that we need to awaken and realize that these times on earth are precious we are living in land-mark times in the history of our planet. Mayans believe that we’re collectively at a cross-roads moment that is calling out to us to participate in our fullest capacity. We’re each being summoned to bring our inspiration and empowerment to the fore, as we must all take our places in transforming our human culture to be one of harmony - with ourselves, with each other and with all of Nature.

The Mayan Ruins at Tulum, Yucatan Peninsula
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Carlos Barrios, a Guatemalan who was trained as an Ajq'ij in the Maya tradition, has this to share in regards to 2012: "Our planet can be renewed or ravaged. Now is the time to awaken and take action...The prophesized changes are going to happen, but our attitude and actions determine how harsh or mild they are.”

"This is a crucially important moment for humanity and for earth. Each person is important. If you have incarnated into this era, you have spiritual work to do balancing the planet...The greatest wisdom is in simplicity. Love, respect, tolerance, sharing, gratitude, forgiveness. It's not complex or elaborate. The real knowledge is free. It's encoded in your DNA. All you need is within you. Great teachers have said that from the beginning. Find you heart, and you will find your way."

"This is the time people need to know what is the purpose of their own lives. This is a dangerous time because we can go to the next step, to the transition, to the fusion of the polarities, or it is a time when we can be destroyed. This materialistic way of life, all this business about economic and social position in the world, it needs to change and the people need to go inside themselves in order to know what they are and to find harmony with the mother earth, with human beings, with their brothers, with the animals, with the plants. It's an important time because we are in the moment of the prophesies and humanity can be destroyed or we can be saved, all together."


Last few days in Mexico

Life is loud in Mexico. The people are welcoming and eager to help. The music is soul-stirring, from the salsa to the live mariachi band singing at the top of their lungs around every corner. And the art is bold, passionate, and filled with vibrant colors. The food spicy with habanero chilli sauce at every table just in case you need more flavor. The whole landscape is so vibrant and alive that you can’t help but get into the groove of things quickly.

The beautiful thing about traveling is that you meet people from all over the world, not just the country that you’re visiting. And naturally you start comparing cultures and learn from each other. Europeans are shocked to hear that the average vacation time in the U.S. is two weeks. They get five to six weeks minimum. Norway even pays a stipend to students attending college. Someone tells me that they received two thousand dollars a month while they were still studying. There’s a huge value placed on education. Why aren’t we studying their systems more closely?

But I digress. Going back to Mexico, all the big companies in the US have gradually moved south of the border. I was a little disappointed to see a Walmart in Playa Del Carmen. Although there are still plenty of local shops but I wonder how long that will last. On the positive side, it was not too hard to find “vegetariano” food. There’s more awareness amongst the decent restaurants in town. Yoga is also considered the new in-thing, so it’s actually been nice practicing every day.

In a couple of days, I start moving South to Belize. The following two weeks will be the biggest travel period before I settle down near Lake Atitlan in Guatemala (known as a major energy center for the Mayans) for a yoga and meditation retreat.


Acknowledging Our Gifts

Inspiration often surfaces in the most unexpected of places. As the Salsa lesson speeds up, I watch a sweet German man salsa as if he was born to do this. Arms perfect, legs sychronized. "Uno, dos, tres...uno dos tres..." I asked Kerstyn, his twenty year old daughter sitting next to me about his interest. She rolls her eyes with an exaggerated "he lovvvves it," in her thick German accent. How did he even get interested in salsa dance while living in Germany? She shares the story of how he almost lost his hearing ten years ago.

He needed an ear operation and wouldn't know until after the surgery if he would still be able to hear. He decides to go out and listen to all the best music in the world, learned how to play the guitar, and fell in love with salsa music. And this started his obsession with the Latin American dance ten years ago.

It turned out that he lost all of his hearing in one ear but the other was fine. So now he never misses a beat.


La Vida en Mexico

Okay what were the exact instructions again? Go outside to the right of the house and turn the switch on. I faintly recall my Swiss house-mate saying something about, “it looks like this,” while pointing to the electrical switch, “turn it on and off, it make a large sound.” I should’ve paid attention. I walk over to some grey pipes, there are two white switches. I take a chance and turn them both on. There’s a loud motor sound that comes out when I turn the second one on, sending a vibration through the concrete underneath my feet. Was that it? And then it abruptly stops! I run back into the house, turn the kitchen tap on – and there’s water! I run up the red tiled stairs and check the bathroom, sink – no, no water. Ah darn! What I would do to have the water back on right now. I never thought I would be pining for that cold drizzle that is erroneously called a shower. I go back down and out the door and try again, run back upstairs to check and, no -- still no agua.

After running outside several times, I look back only to realize that I closed the door fully this time quietly locking myself out of the house. I quickly evaluate my options. All the emergency numbers are inside, so is my purse. I can sit here and wait outside on the street for my housemate to return or I could walk over to the school and see if anyone is still there in the evening. I choose the latter. Luckily Jose the school Director is still there. I interrupt his meeting and make no attempt to speak Spanish (like we’re supposed to at all times). He immediately asks what’s wrong. I explain, “the water is out and I locked myself out of the house, do you happen to have an extra pair of keys.” He hands over some keys and explains the switch trick several times. “Turn the switch on for ten minutes…it should make a loud sound” I explain that there’s no longer a sound and he promises to come by and take a look at the water situation. Feeling grateful that he’s still here, I walk back tired but hopeful at least I can get in the house now.

A couple hours later, my roommate comes home ready for a shower, so does Jose with his dog Frodo skipping along (who I’m more than happy to see outside of school). He takes a look around and decides that he will need to have the maintenance repair guy come in to fix it. “Great when do you think he’ll be here?” “Maybe tonight? Maybe tomorrow.” He texts him but found out “esta en Cancun”. He’s gone to Cancun. Ahhhh I see.

I noticed that outside of a feeble attempt to question the situation when my housemate responds to Jose with a, “porque?,” neither of us give much weight to the situation. “La vida en Mexico” (that’s life in Mexico) we proclaim and move on with our day. More time for meditation and writing for me, shower will have to wait. As I go back to my room and sit down to write, almost as if on cue I hear the neighbors playing Bob Marley’s, “Everything is gonna be alllll right. Every little thing is gonna be all right” And everything IS all right.

(I’ve been in Playa Del Carmen for the past four days learning Spanish. It’s a beautiful place with beautiful people. And I’m not at all minding the warm 75-80 degree weather and being able to take a walk on the beach almost every day. Time seems to have expanded throughout each day. There is plenty of time for everything.) :-)


Beginning of a Journey

“This above all: to thine own self be true,
and it must follow as the night the day,
thou canst not then be false to any man.”
-William Shakespeare

For the next four months, I’m making a conscious commitment to step back, live more consciously, fully, and take a closer look at the larger canvas of life. I hope to expand, to grow, to cultivate deeper, and to live in full resonance with my “inner self.”

While this is an on-going process, in the past it has been an immensely growing experience for me to step outside of the box for a while. Ten years ago, I spent almost a year volunteering and living in Nepal and India. Five years ago, Nipun and I spent three months on a walking pilgrimage followed by three months at a monastery in India. It’s needless to say that both of these experiences changed the course of my life and helped me make better decisions about “how” to live.

After having been involved in a fast-paced life for the past three years, and after recently leaving my job, this seems like a perfect place to press the “pause” button while I have this opportunity. As I get older (although I’m still young :) I find it easier for the mind to slip into certain patterns. While this type of self-inquiry might come to us naturally when we’re grasping with who we are and our place in the world, I’ve found that it’s even more important to consciously keep reflecting as we get older. To live fully, one needs to constantly challenge their own beliefs and ideas about themselves and the world around them, and to live with greater clarity.

I’ve filled the next four and a half months with so many of my favorite things -- to reflect, meditate, practice yoga, travel, photography, learn about other cultures, spend time at a monastery, and go on a sacred walking pilgrimage across Spain, and to just be. It’s a gift and a privilege to be taking this kind of a journey at this time in my life.

As much as I will miss my close friends and family, I soon realized that I never left them. They are always in my heart wherever I go, constantly supporting me, guiding me, and blessing me. I’ll try to keep this blog updated as much as I can (internet-access permitting) to share my journey. I hope that you keep me updated about your life as well.