05/ 04/ 15
Someone tell me what life is really about. Working a job just to afford an apartment just to work at that job? Burnt-out weekdays and debaucherous weekends? Climbing the corporate ladder to achieve someone else’s version of success? I wasn’t doing it right. Clearly. Because here I was, already jaded at the ripe ol’ age of 23.
These are the thoughts that swirled around my head as I left for an 11-day retreat at Blooming Lotus Yoga in Bali, Indonesia. There have always been inklings nestled in the back of my mind, telling me that there’s more to life than bowing down to your email inbox on the daily. Bali, one of the last truly spiritual places on this planet, was exactly where I needed to be.
touring the Balinese rice paddies!
Blooming Lotus Yoga is located in Ubud, where offerings sit atop each doorstep and ritual happens all around you, creating a sense of elevated consciousness that’s difficult to ignore. The retreat is tucked away in a lush, green jungle and overlooks a sacred river – a yogi’s paradise. We had three incredibly wise and loving teachers – Lily, Ramananda, and Francie, who guided us in yoga and meditation twice a day.
As a complete beginner in meditation, venturing into the world of silence was daunting and difficult. My mind was distracted by an endless stream of thoughts. Any bug tip-toeing across my skin was an excuse to fidget my way out of uncomfortable stillness. I tried concentrating on the techniques we had learned, like ujjayi pranayama, counting the length of the inhales and exhales, nadi shodhana, and focusing on the gap in between breaths, but mostly just waited until I heard the ring of the singing bowl – a signal that the session had come to an end.
On the fifth day, I had a breakthrough. Lily guided us through Yoga Nidra, a form of meditation that brings the mind into the state between waking and dreaming, allowing the practitioner to access the subconscious. We meditated again later that day and for the first time, my mind was still. The most overwhelming sense of peace flooded my heart. I felt like my being was radiating light and the essence of my soul had shown its true self – eternal, unwavering happiness. It was pure bliss. It was a feeling that I had never experienced before. A feeling that was better than getting into college, better than landing my first job, better than receiving any material gift I’ve been given – even better than falling in love. Why? Because it had come from within myself.
One of the coolest concepts of yogic philosophy is that our Natural State is unconditional love and compassion. The heavenly feeling that I felt in that moment is what we all innately embody. Cultural norms, expectations of others, and experiences we go through build layers upon layers of beliefs that makes us think differently. We mistakenly barter, “Once I get that job I’ll be happy. Once I can afford to buy a house I’ll be happy. Once I find the perfect partner I’ll be happy.” Meditation helps to peel back those layers and reveal the true happiness that already lies within us all.
Later that day, I found extreme clarity during a wonderful yin yoga class. I realized that there’s no point in waiting to pursue my dreams. I felt courage to break out of the comfortable yet toxic mold that I was succumbing to. I was inspired to build a strong meditation practice, enabling me to live a life of pure love – love for this earth, love for others, and love for myself. Now that’s what life is really about.