Tonight, as I finished my personal yoga practice, I found myself in a state of pure, unadulterated peace of mind. The usual maelstrom of my mind was calmed and no thoughts chased themselves around in endless circles and repetitions - I seemed to be experiencing the present moment purely and intensely.
Within a minute - if not seconds - thoughts began to spring up unbidden, including the idea to write this blog entry. But I managed to hold on to that feeling of peace for a short, precious time, allowing the emerging ideas to pass through my consciousness without grasping them.
As I turned off the quiet path that leads to my yoga institute and joined the relentless flow of Patan's traffic, the revving motorcycle engines and piercing horns rapidly chipped away at my moment of contentment. Only a vague echo of it remains in my body, mind and spirit as I sit and type, leaving me reflecting on this experience in light of the last three weeks spent in Nepal vs the hopes and expectations I arrived with.
The two sides of my expectations for Nepal were formed on the one hand by a friend from Korea, who spent 3 months in Patan last year staying in the same room of the guesthouse I am at and studying yoga with the same teacher. In our discussions before my departure she spoke at great length her transcendent experience, and I saw clearly how it had literally changed her life - she is now studying yoga in India as part of a 2 year program. She spoke of the patience, wisdom and kindness of my teacher, Uprety-ji, and of the peace, calm and purpose for life that she found during her time here.
The other side of the coin was provided by a friend of a friend who is living and working in Kathmandu. Her letters to me spoke primarily of the noise, dirt, pollution and grinding poverty that does injury to the spirit to behold. It certainly contained no reference to inner peace or Epiphanies in the land of Everest.
My experience today contains the essence of both of these perspectives - and I guess it would have been naive to expect one without at least shades of the other. However, despite long days of loud noise (I write this to a medley of horns honking - always honking til you want to scream) and pollution, I still harbour a hope that the former will prevail and that I will leave with new knowledge of myself and my body.
The upshot, however, is that I am truely learning from this experience. The peace of mind I left my yoga session with today is a rare luxury in a brain that is incessantly working, churning over the minutiae of life. Any moment of peace is a blessing, and the idea that I am learning the practice of fostering this state is exciting and uplifting.
Physically, as most of you know, I left North America in fragile condition and was looking to yoga to give me - literally - a new vehicle for life. I have had some setbacks in this area, including the illness I described last week and ongoing intestinal challenges. Most crucially, however, my ankle has been compromised in such a way that is making practice a constant balancing act that I can only hope will not endanger my long-term goals.
Overall, I remain committed and confident of things to come. That's 3 weeks folks, I wonder what we will be saying after 3 months....