Traveling Yogi- Part I

         Stories of Travel and creating independence

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New York was starting to weigh heavily on me.  A hostile, abrasive city environment after a very emotionally taxing winter, was pushing me to my limits, so when the time came for a free weekend in June, I jumped to the chance to get out. Nothing makes me happier than being on the road, on a plane or on a boat. Moving from place to place has been part of my whole existence, and there is something incredibly calming and familiar about airports. I packed my bags with much anticipation to go somewhere I had been longing to visit for years… It was a just what I needed.

IN THE DESERT YOU FIND AN OASIS

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Arizona desert, 5am as the sun is rising; I squint as the sky fills with mesmerizing colors and hues. Small shapes start to appear, wild desert animals are wide awake taking their place in the trees and the rocks. Silhouettes of low brush and tall proud cacti pepper the landscape. I walk carefully down the rocky path being extra careful not to trip on the jacked rocks as we climb up the hill. We keep a steady pace and I can hear my breath with every step. My friend T and his wife brought water packs for us, and I’m thankful because I left my backpack in the car so I wouldn’t be weighted down during our hike. Its a good hour-long drive away from Phoenix where they live, so we had started out as early as possible to “beat the heat”. It’s the first time in months I feel strong enough to take this journey. After my abortion, I barely had energy for seated meditation, but it gave me purpose to concentrate on my breath when not much else did.

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“I started weeping, tears slowly forming in my eyes, my cheeks burning with the sun’s light my heart expanding with every breath…”

This early morning in June marked 2 months after my procedure and I can feel my body take in the desert sun like a sponge. My skin felt warm, my breath felt strong. I want to test my legs and endurance in this challenging environment. I stand still and take a moment to experience this vista that is so new and so familiar at the same time. I am in awe of what mother earth has to offer. I am still anxious about my body being able to deal with the extra pressure and physical demands of hiking, but I know that I’m in good hands. I needed to do this, to prove to myself that I have reclaimed my body. I am starting to feel alive again.

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I’ve known my friend T since high school; we lost touch after I went to college; we reconnected after I came to live in New York four years ago, and after my abortion he was one of the few people I could trust with my experience.  He and his family stood by me, and emotionally supported my decision like champions. He has two gorgeous daughters with his wife and they are quite possibly the most loving, joyous and giving young girls I’ve seen in a long time. His youngest stole my heart, and instantly knew how to draw me in, hold me tight and show me unbound love. They embraced, nourished, and took care of me like few friends can and now we were silently walking up the hill together with this glorious landscape as our backdrop.

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I felt a strong desire to connect with the earth again and find a true north. In the cacophony of the city that task of being able to maintain serenity and balance is not unlike the task handed to Sisyphus,  by the Greek gods. He was forever punished for his hubris and trickery with pushing up a boulder up a hill, only to watch it roll down again. I was tired of meaningless tasks, futile relationships and disruptive people, and nature always serves as a reset button unlike any other.

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I sat on a beautiful rock formation overlooking the valley below.  The desert expanse spread out before me and I closed my eyes. The sun was rising, the colors changing and the energy around us could be cut with a knife. There is nothing more pure and unfiltered as the sun’s light. I felt the warmth of the rocks rising up through my spine, each synapse and nerve ending slowing down for just a second and I watched the anxieties, the fear the anger the sadness slowly lift away from my body. I started to realize that whatever I had felt up until that point was moving away from me and into those rocks. Like layers coming off from a snake as it renews its skin leaving the old and embracing the new shiny layers underneath.

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I saw the injustice, how I was being wronged, insulted, and ridiculed by the very persons who had vowed to be my protectors and my champions lift and slowly dissipate into the morning air. I started weeping, tears slowly forming in my eyes, I looked up at the purple and blue and pink sky as my cheeks started burning with the sun’s light, my heart expanding with every breath, and my womb connecting with mother nature.  A deep understanding came over me, knowing that it’s no longer empty, no longer barren no longer scarred. She is my mother, the earth the sky the wind, and my friends my guides and my protectors on this amazing transformation. I closed my eyes again.

This is only the beginning — I kept breathing in and out, slowing my heart rate, the stream of my tears falling on the rocks and becoming one with the earth. It’s the closest I have ever felt to a divine experience. We speak a lot of meditative and transcendental states in yoga, yet it is a connection that can never be fully explained unless it is experienced. I bowed down to the teachers before me, those who taught me that strength is what you find within and not what you seek outside of yourself.  Happiness, is a work in progress and not a holy grail that you have to look for. Despite the pitfalls of sadness, I’m freshly determined to explore this newly found joy one day at a time.

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I opened my eyes, my friends were there sitting beside me and we embraced the new day ahead of us. “Let’s go get some breakfast! I said… I’m famished.”

We nodded, we laughed  we gave a high-five, and walked back down the hill as the new day began.

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On the way back a song came on, on the radio…. Nina’s voice crooning our new beginning. And I’m feeling good.

Feeling Good

 

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