It’s 6.21 am.  The mornings are very different here.  I don’t have a foot long gecko planted a meter above my head screaming EEEEE-ORRRR, or a rat scurrying through my underwear on the shelf, a croco-modo thrashing about in the pond outside my window eating all the goldfish.  No more Anja peering her head around the wall silhoueted against the sunlight, so we can have our morning green tea and pre-practice catch up.  No more pit-vipers to dodge on the path to the shala…although I still dream of them.  No more Matthew and his omniscient watch over our morning practice…although I still hear his voice.  No more Boris and the familial love and affection we shared; or Gary’s “GO ON GIRL!” to encourage me through the Lion sequence, or Erikha’s smiles and kisses on each cheek, or Pablo’s twenty second hugs, lunch dates with Kirsten, coffees with Jill, music sharing with Christoph or just the general banter over smoothies and fresh coconuts.

shalagroup

I landed almost three weeks ago now, and the forecast was bleak.  Heavy rain, black skies…an apologetic “welcome to the UK” from the pilot.  I knew it was going to be tough coming back, it always is, but couldn’t the sun have shone down on us to ease the pain?  Wading through puddles in my flip-flops, and drawing out additional layers from my weathered backpack, I turned up my I-pod, and passionately mimed the words to “Youth”, by Daughter, riding out the waves of panic stirring in my gut.  What next?  What to do?  Ahhhh – FUCK!

One of the things I really valued in going away this time, was that for the first time ever I didn’t feel like I was running away from disaster.  I’d worked my arse off, and was beginning to build something.  I was encouraged and hopeful for my future.  Bali was a well-deserved and needed experience for personal growth.  To be with my practice.  To be with….well just me…free from the pressures of 3 jobs and a strained social life.  And it was exactly that.  Month one, month two – I couldn’t think about coming back, but if I did, it was still with a smile.  Ahhh, I have so much to go back to.  Budding and deepening friendships, a thriving work schedule, new ideas to cultivate and explore….Oxford’s beautiful in the Summer time.  But as the third month crept by and I began to fall, unceremoniously, into my ever-deepening practice…by that stage the long-term students were just so tired all defences were down…I was bursting open with all the yucky, uncomfortable, I’m-behaving-like-a-petulant-child-and-i-hate-myself-for-it stuff…and something changed.  A part of me wanted to stay, another part wanted to change my flights, dispose of my phone and laptop and disappear…find an ashram somewhere, or just become a perpetual stranger, wandering anonymously through alien streets.  That particular drive was exceptionally strong, and something I took heed of.  A bit of a warning perhaps.  Now is the time to go home.  No matter how settled and grounded we think we are, if you go deep enough – there’s always an earth-shattering truth we will do anything – absolutely anything – to avoid.

Perhaps, in retrospect,with a little more planning and awareness on my part, a Vipassana retreat at the end of all of that would have been good.  A chance to just sit with everything that has arisen, and allow that inner truth to surface.  Instead, I’ve had to hit the ground running.  I’m taking big, risky steps in terms of my livelihood and career, and as exciting and natural as that feels for me right now, there is a sense that something, under the surface, is writhing about – unresolved.   I’m having flashes of understanding of what it’s all about, and as I go through my days and certain things happen and unfold I’m feeling some sort of guidance.

hub4Like, when I walked into the Hub and saw all my oils and incense laid out ready to burn.  Ahhhh, it felt like I was at home.  A baby resting so peacefully with all her innocence, warmth and trust in my arms.  The rain-soaked pilgrimage to the shala in Summertown, and that first sun-salute.  Settling into an afternoon of Kirtan with my beautiful friends.  Heart to hearts over coffee, or under blankets with loved ones; sitting cross-legged, finding my centre in front of a class of students, about to start my first official yoga class… All of these things are wonderful and resonating with me on a deep level; but there are always conflicts and polarities to contend with, and it is through exploring the other side of all of those things, that I’m beginning to identify the gaps.  Feelings of longing, disconnect, uncertainty.  There is fear there too.  Always fear and sadness.

It’s an interesting time, these transitions back.  I realise how important routine is for me, and to find my quiet space to process things; to feel safe.  I have conflict with being insular and introverted, vs the need to belong and feel connected with others.  I’m wrestling with wanting to function and interact on that same level of openness, vulnerability and honesty, but learning that a certain degree of protection is required for wellbeing and acceptance.  I want freedom and the ability to explore the world and venture further into these spiritual places that are calling out to me, but I want to settle and call somewhere home.  Cuddle up to a cat named Arthur, and invite my friends over for a home-cooked meal.  Actually invest in things like cutlery and furniture.

I guess this is where I’m at right now.  It’s a time to be patient with myself, allow the dust to settle.  An opportunity to greet and welcome uncertainty, and all of the fears involved, with an open heart.

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