Day Eighty-Eight: New Year's Abroad
“The quality of life is in proportion, always, to the capacity for delight. The capacity for delight is in the gift of paying attention”
-Julia Camera, “The Artist Way”
Julia’s words have stuck with me in the two years since I first read her masterpiece, and they couldn’t have come alive more than they did this week. With 2017 creeping up and casting an energy of closure and release, I meditated a lot on the experience of being truly present – catching myself in moments of nostalgia, homesickness, anxiety around change and missing-out-ness, and reminding myself that embodying presence really is the antidote to perceived fear, negativity, attachments, all of it. Presence is an active experiment in how we choose to live out our highest self in every moment.
But seriously, monkeys know.
In the spirit of living it up this last week of 2016 in my cozy and incredible heartwarming apartment in Tapovan, I’ve been gifting myself the medicine of presence and stillness while trying my best to quiet the attachments and constant chatter of the mind. It all began Tuesday morning when I woke up in a spastic jolt, quickly tearing at some upper back-shoulder-neck muscle – the absolute worst timing for a silly injury like that. Mind you, this is my last week for practicing ashtanga yoga before I go into contemplative ashram life for 6 days, followed by yoga teacher training (aka: three weeks and a few days straight of 5am wake up calls packed with intense yogi activities= WOOT!).
Call it Christmas and/or post-Christmas lethargy that led to this silly muscle spasm, or just back luck. Wylie also manifested a lower back situation, so I was in good (painful) company. It took lots of will power to get my body out of bed, into layered warm clothes and out to yoga class each morning, but I was determined to go all out in my last week. If yoga is about the mind-body connection and manifesting possibility from within, I was not going to let an isolated situation rain on my yoga parade. SO pleased that I pushed through and tuned in from that place, paying attention to what my body could do as opposed to what it could not. Let’s just say it was a hamstring and back knees kind of week, focusing my attention on parts of the body that I’ve given less attention to in weeks past. Flow is possible wherever we look, as long as we’re paying attention – living proof, right here!
And from that place of body flow, I was able to manifest flow in two awesome interviews for “Experiments with Living.” The first one happened Tuesday at the very last minute, same time frame as when the muscle spasm went down, naturally. In the spirit of finding flow always, we made both happen – this time, instead of bringing along makeshi(f) tripods (buckets and books), Wylie and I brought along brand spankin new tripods that we gifted ourselves for Christmas. Low fi productions just got a serious upgrade, HOLLER.
There’s something magical about setting up cameras and having a conversation with someone. In doing so, you create a highly charged portal for all sorts of exchange be it stories, emotions or spontaneous moments. Everything is elevated.
Everyone, meet Mark and Eunju.
Mark, originally from California and the world of sports entertainment, has lived in Rishikesh for 3 years and currently runs Space Café and supports his teacher, Yogi Anand of Sattva Yoga. Eunju, originally from South Korea and world of physical therapy, has lived in Rishikesh for 5 months running the city’s only Korean restaurant, Café Dream.
Speaking of experiments, Alix, this one’s for you.
As my own experiments continue, I’ve noticed my own inner demons working hard to catch me off guard – I’m talking about that ever too sneaky and familiar…FOMO. Every New Year’s Eve, I oscillate between feeling emotions of dread and desire – mind wants to attach itself to something while my heart wants to be free from it all. And if we’re having real talk, living in Rishikesh is no exception. The FOMO is real. Did I want to drop $120 for a night of yoga, hiking, meditation, and ecstatic dance or find peace within doing some DIY ceremony-making of my own, for free? Living on the cheap and creating my own fun has become the name of the game, detaching myself from years of New York conditioning of NYE. With attention and presence, the answer became clear, and very much inspired by my ladies of Artist Way J
Oh, and in case you’re wondering what the number one highlight of the week was involving long overdue packages, this had to be it: seeing a Fedex deliveryman outside my apartment door!
Three weeks, one seven page letter to the FedEx CEO and India Consulate, and more emails and whatsapp messages and phone calls than I can track on two hands later (ALL thanks to my incredibly fearless mom), the package arrived on my doorstep. How the deliveryman found my apartment is a mystery to me, but it all worked out. We got a little carried away with excitement as evidenced in this spontaneous photo shoot.
Getting back to experiments though, what I really wanted to get at was the real highlight of the week (NOT involving long overdue packages): our New Years Eve DAY ceremony that we manifested, which began yet again with a muscle spasm in my neck. Second time in one week -- universe, why?!
I decided to go see Kalpana right away, my favorite massage therapist in town. There was no way I was carrying a crunchy back into 2017. The last time I went to see her, she was very much in a low life condition as her business prospects looked bleak (slow season in Rishikesh plus the money situation has been hard for many small business owners) and all her energy was being consumed by taking care of her sick father. This time around, Kalpana seemed to have done a complete 180 sharing the great news that she’s been invited to work in Russia with previous clients that opened up an ayurvedic center! It was a total Goddess moment and she was glowing. That moment made waking up with an achy back totally worth it.
Kalpana left me with a beautiful mantra to ring in the New Year:
And just like that, our New Years Eve Day ceremony commenced. I walked to a nearby ghat to fetch some marigold flowers before heading over to the German Bakery where Wylie and I would meet for our usual cappuccino and monkey watching ritual. Afterwards, we hopped to Café Goa to create our 2016 timelines, looking back on the year to remember all the moments and experiences that mattered in some way big or small. It dawned on me mid-timeline that I was sitting at the exact same table as when I first hung out with Anouchka post-women’s workshop. It was in that workshop that I birthed my intention for Rishikesh, “to be here right now” and at that table that I first told anyone about “Experiments with Living.” It was a strange and wonderful experience of deja-vu.
It’s surreal to think back on what my experience of 2015 was like just this time last year:
After timeline-ing, Wylie and I trekked down to the banks of the Ganga and set up camp at our favorite spot. Does this look familiar?
And in that sun-setting hour, we created a beautiful space for ceremony -- one for reflection around the things we wish to release and create in 2017.
PS: In case many of you are wondering why I so perfectly timed my Happy New Year messages to New York time, it’s not just because I’m good at time zone math. I passed out HOURS earlier than my midnight, so decided to do it up proper New York time. Them perks of being abroad and ten hours ahead :)