I’m back from Mexico, and, yes, it was amazing! Restorative, fun, and deeply nourishing for my heart, soul and body. It’s a wonderful thing to leave the world behind and surround oneself with beautiful sites, sounds and tastes. Yet, “wherever you go, there you are,” the saying goes. I’d like to be able to report that for the twelve days I was deposited on a perfectly beautiful and sunny Pacific Coast beach, forced to consume exceptionally good food and spend days with a charming group of people doing yoga and swimming in the ocean, that I was in non-stop bliss from beginning to end, but that’s not entirely the case…
Just one morning after my retreatees went home, I found myself immediately annoyed by the new retreat group’s tendency to cackle like a group of hens around the coffee machine before the sun had even risen. (Our group had maintained silence – mostly, lol! – in the mornings.) Later that same day, an otherwise lovely young couple had the audacity to sit beside me as I lay on the beach and continue their conversation, waking me from my slumber. I laughed at my quickness to irritation soon after, but not before departing rather abruptly. So much for my yoga, I thought to myself, disappointed by my oh-so-human response.
Looking back later, I was not disappointed, however. Practicing yoga, cultivating compassion, developing mindfulness does not mean that we’ll never get angry or impatient again. (Wouldn’t that be grand?) It means that we may have the ability to see our impatience sooner – and with kinder, gentler eyes. It means that we may be courageous enough to acknowledge it quickly, forgive ourselves for it, and even ask for forgiveness for it, when necessary.
These oh-so-human foibles may not be the stories one would expect to hear as highlights of a trip to Mexico, but for me they are deeply gratifying signs of the effect of my long-term yoga practice. No, I haven’t achieved enlightenment yet, but I can look at myself and my own humanness and laugh a lot more easily than I used to. If I can accept my own imperfections, perhaps I can accept them in those around me a bit better as well. And, Lord knows, our world could use a whole lot of that right now.