Reflections from a reluctant traveler

It is so easy to trick myself into believing my own limiting stories. One is that I don’t have the extra energy to get out of my comfort zone. I work as a middle school teacher, and even though I have a schedule and a plan for each day, every day brings unforeseen situations and extra tasks. The same at home with three teenage kids, a husband, and a cat. At the same time, I am trying to get my yoga teaching up and going, and it is taking time. So, lately, just the idea of planing anything that requires a bit of effort seems overwhelming.

Thus, last week, when the date for a trip with some of my students was approaching and my to-do list kept growing, I regretted volunteering for this trip. My tired and overwhelmed mind kept going through all the worst-case scenarios that could happen during this trip. Oversleeping and not catching the bus to the airport, the plane being canceled, students getting sick or even worse, hurt…

Sitting in the bus on the way to the airport, I started wondering why I was dreading traveling so much. I used to love to travel, but now, I was filled with anxiety. I think it was partly because I haven’t been traveling since before CORONA.

The trip went smoothly, and just a few hours after the event we joined had started, I realized what a great experience this was for both my students and myself. We spent three days in a camp learning about the importance of democracy. There were students from several schools in Norway, each small group accompained by a teacher. Students and teachers had slightly different programs each day. It was so inspiring in so many ways.

I realized how easy it is to get caught in going around in circles when we stay in the same place without being exposed to different ways of seeing things, and new knowledge. I would argue that it is almost dangerous for our growth and mental health.

During the last day of our camp, while talking with one of the other teachers, we agreed that this trip was worth the effort, and that unfortunately, not all courses or conferences we can attend are as good.

This made me think about the importance of getting out of my comfort zone from time to time to meet new people and learn new things, but it needs to be done with awareness and clarity of mind, not just for entertainment.

According to Yoga philosophy, one can classify our attitude towards life’s experiences into two: one can have the attitude of a bhogi or the attitude of a yogi. A bhogi is someone who seeks experiences for the sake of experiencing, and most of the time the goal is to satisfy the senses. A yogi is someone who uses life’s experiences to reflect on her attitudes and behaviour and improve them. A yogi‘s main goal is to continue transforming herself for the better. To get closer to her Truth. A bhogi can easily fall into indulgence and restlessness, while a yogi has to constantly create inner clarity to be able to discern between acting to please the senses and the mind and acting with awareness for her long-term benefit avoiding harming others.

When the yogi steps out of her comfort zone, it is at a different level than the bhogi. It is not to experience strong emotions, it is to challenge the limitedness of the mind. Emotions do arrise, but the yogi does not get stuck in the emotions, the yogi needs to see past them and learn something about herself and the world around her.

At the stage I am in life and in my willingness to integrate Yoga teachings to my life, I think I am still somewhere between acting like a bhogi and acting like a yogi. I do reflet a lot about my attitudes and behaviors, but I tend to seek what is emotionally safe for me and reject what feels challenging. I get stuck in situations out of fear of letting go and experiencing pain, but oftentimes, when I let go, I experience freedom. Freedom from being attached to something that doesn’t help me develop, that doesn’t allow me to go a bit deeper in my quest for the Self.

This trip made me think of that, and the importance of getting out of negative spirals…

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