Not what we thought

“The trick is to keep exploring and not bail out, even when we find out that something is not what we thought. That’s what we’re going to discover again and again and again. Nothing is what we thought.”- Pema Chodron, When Things Fall Apart

Read that on the beach today. The sun kept disappearing behind the clouds, but there was a breeze and nothing could make this beach be more or less beautiful. It is simply captivating. The sand is so smooth and silky, like a worn soft cotton cozy t-shirt. The water is clear and turquoise it just doesn’t look real. I don’t think I’ve swam or stayed in the water this much since I was a kid. And it feels unbelievable, especially in the humid heat, with a sore body from yoga – can’t imagine a better tonic for soothing and energizing the senses.

Here’s the deal though – this is *not* a resort. This is a spiritual place, a place to study and practice. There is a lot of prayer and chanting. Deities are painted on bright, beautiful murals throughout the property. People come here from allover the world, and so many languages are spoken at meals. The housing is no-frills, there is no room service, nice toiletries in each bathroom, alarm clocks, or much of anything for you. Meals are served at specific time, and there is no menu. There is an unwritten promise that you’re here for the training, and to be a part of the greater community. You really can’t be a non-participant at the ashram. And so, I chose wisely for the first leg of this excursion. I’m not escaping anything. I’m not running away to a fancy, expensive resort to be coddled and served. I’m not waking up doing the same routine in a hotel room as I would at home. I don’t have access to alcohol or even caffeine as part of the tradition – so I can’t distract my mind or body. I’m just here, in the present moment.

Pema says – “If we commit ourselves to staying right where we are, then our experience becomes very vivid. Things become very clear when there is nowhere to escape.”

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