“You are only free when you realize you belong no place – you belong every place – you belong no place at all. The price is high. The reward is great.” Maya Angelou
At the Vipassana course, I felt connected to the natural cycles of the day and night, the sun, the moon, the stars, in a profound way. I wasn’t speaking to or interacting with any humans, which allowed for a much deeper connection with the natural world. I would wake at 4am, walk outside to the meditation hall with the stars. Leaving the hall to go to breakfast, the sun had not yet risen, but the birds were starting to wake and the energy of the new day could be just be sensed. After breakfast, on my way to the meditation hall, the East was illuminated with the glow of the morning sun. Each time I opened my eyes and stepped outside for a break, I felt such gratitude for nature’s harmony, which was helping me to stay balanced through the deep inner shifts I was experiencing. No matter what I was going through in my process or how rapid my internal tempo, nature’s flow continued, its rhythm remained consistent. The sound of a woodpecker tapping a tree encouraged me to continue chipping away at the layers, scenes of chipmunks or birds playfully chasing each other reminded me to find lightness and joy even in the most intense moments and the setting sun each evening taught me the beauty and grace of letting go and taking rest.
I was learning, day by day, to just be. To be with whatever I was feeling in each moment, exactly as it was, not how I wished it to be. That it is possible to just be with myself, with the discomfort of difficult emotions and without self judgement. That there is great freedom in being honest and raw. Each time I sat, I received and experienced powerful lessons in patience and self love. Immense awe at the miracle of my body, which when I step back and allow it to align with the law of nature, unwinds the knots and dis-ease that my mind has created. If I watched too closely and intensely, I would block it; if I slipped into the dissociative, floating away pattern of my mind, I would miss what is there. If I sat in the now, in awareness, curiosity and non-reactiveness, it all happened as it was always meant to. Isn’t this a lesson for life.
I felt empowered by the discovery that finding the courage to stand alone created a rich opportunity to develop real self-acceptance and true discovery of who I am and with that I felt less alone than ever, part of something much greater and vastly beautiful, which felt truly humbling. The more I cultivated compassion for myself, more space opened in my heart to feel love and compassion for those around me, whom I had never exchanged even a glance. With each rising of the sun, the more present I became, opening up to the beauty that exists right here, in the painful moments and the joyous ones, in everyone and in everything.
Living transient life
From the age of 10, my life has been constant change, being uprooted and moving around through cities and across oceans. As soon as I reached a point in my life when the decisions became my own, I chose a transient life again, moving around, traveling the world, living here and there, meeting people and making friends, only to leave and start over somewhere else. There has been something very intentional about my journey though, that I haven’t been able to articulate or form into reason, just something guiding me that I have needed to follow. I have not known in advance where, geographically, I have been going. The experience of saying goodbye to those dear to my heart is still hard but each time, rather than feeling as though a piece of my heart has been broken off and left, more and more it feels like it all exists within me, that love and connection hasn’t gone anywhere. My spirit doesn’t exist in time but my body does and my mind knows it. I think this is what makes it painful sometimes.
I am still in a deep space of healing, but feeling more ready than ever to be in community, to teach and share my gifts with others. Here in Toronto, it is a strange feeling being in a place that in one sense is so recognizable to me and in another totally unfamiliar. I am different. I have stripped away and am building myself back up from my core, feeling more myself than ever. Having patience for myself and knowing that the authenticity I feel in myself is what is allowing my heart to open to be able to be in authentic connection with others and trusting that this is how community is built, is what gives me strength even when at times it feels lonely.
As my relationship with nature deepens, the more I feel the Earth beneath my feet wherever I go rather than the unfamiliar place that attempts to conceal her. The more I see the trees and hear the birds and feel the wind. Everything is always changing, this is the law of nature. So why is it that we as humans find change so hard? We become attached to what we once had, what appears in this moment, or what we hope for in the future. The fear of losing it causes us to lag behind in inertia and remain stuck in the past or to rush away from the present moment to keep up with our racing mind or the collective race of our society. A sense of urgency develops and we find ourselves running but we don’t really know what we are running from or towards. I think we are running from ourselves and drowning from powerlessness that comes from being unable to sit in the discomfort of our truths and wanting anything or anyone external to save us. The more we rush the less time there seems to be because the more scattered we become. If we can witness this as something separate from us and when that feeling of urgency bubbles up, rather than act on it just sit in it and connect to our breath, we are able to see that there is nothing to run from. Slowing down and finding inner stillness, we discover that everything is always in flux, always arising and passing away, and we don’t have to jump in and get thrown around, we can stand still and watch it. We arrive in the present moment, which is the most beautiful place because it is real. I hear Ram Dass saying, “become friends with change.”
Learning how to live in the present moment is my greatest lesson, trusting that the not knowing is actually a deep knowingness that is just unfamiliar to me. Believing that when I feel alone I am not really alone at all. Having faith that the call always comes when everything aligns. That even if I don’t know externally where I am going, with each step on this path, I am rooting deeper in my understanding of consciousness, how my mind works, who I am and what my purpose is. I am finding a true sense of home in myself. I feel a solid ground underneath me now because I am rooted in myself.
“Belonging so fully to yourself that you’re willing to stand alone is a wilderness: an untamed, unpredictable place of solitude and searching. It is a place as dangerous as it is breathtaking, a place as sought after as it is feared. The wilderness can often feel unholy because we can’t control it or what people think about our choice of whether to venture into that vastness or not. But it turns out to be the place of true belonging and it’s the bravest and most sacred place you will ever stand.” Brene Brown, Braving the Wilderness