Story-telling: Chronicles of a (Lost) Traveling Yogi (NZ, Part 1)
This is the first story where I recount my adventures on the road as a yogi, i.e. someone set on a journey through self-inquiry, holding hands with none other than curiosity & openness to learn and grow through the experiences - and turn them into roads to enlightenment. Click here to get on my email list and get notified when the next ones come out!
Did you know I spent 6 months backpacking through the mind-blowing country of New Zealand in 2015? It had been a dream of mine since I was 13, and I decided to make it a reality while I spent some time off books and outside the university library in between my bachelor’s and master’s degrees. So to New Zealand I flew, happy, unprepared, and definitely clueless about what was in store for me.
I didn’t go quite prepared; I’d bought a Lonely Planet guide to feel somewhat so, and I’d read about the steps I had to take to get my IRD number (the number you need in order to work once you have a working holiday visa). I was in a blooming love relationship back then and I was more focused on feeling sad and sorry for myself at the idea of leaving that boyfriend behind than getting ready for what was about to come.
And in any case, I could never have prepared for what would turn out to be one of the most intense experiences of my life. Each day felt like 2 whole ones, and not any kind: the 6 months I spent traveling, working and slacklining around were packed with mind-blowing landscapes, the most thought-provoking conversations, thinking in as many as 3 languages in one single day, cross-cultural exchanges of all kinds, falling in love with places, getting angry and scared and frustrated and laughing so much your belly can’t take it anymore.
So maybe it was the friends who didn’t really understand (or care) back home, maybe it was the love relationship that was hard to handle, maybe it was the beauty of nature surrounding me (oh, the nature…), the days that were overly packed in emotions, I’m not really sure (maybe a mix of all these things?) - but I got lost. Mentally, lost.
I spent weeks & weeks feeling completely disconnected from myself.
My mind felt a bit like a maze and the map got lost in the construction process.
I didn’t know what I wanted, how I wanted it; I changed my mind on the important things every day - one day I cared, the next I was indifferent and it felt normal. I was incapable of making decisions, I oscillated between feeling so inspired I could have written a book about everything I saw and my experiences, and feeling so overwhelmed and frustrated all I wanted was to be alone and spend as many hours of the day hooked to my headphones, lost in my head, in my safe bubble. It was hard to stay present - and I didn’t have the strong meditation practice I have now, the one I rely on in case of mental emergencies like that one.
During that time, I took many pictures of my feet.
Back then, I snapped these shots because I wanted to remember the grounds I walked; we always look around and up, remember our surroundings, but do we remember what we walk on? I know I wouldn’t, so that was my way of teaching myself how to pay attention. Back then, that was the only reason. In hindsight, I’m sure this was my subconscious way of grounding myself.
I was so lost in my head, I needed the ground to remind me of where I was. Here, my feet told me secretly, stay here. I remember exactly where I stood when I took the pictures you can see here. I remember exactly what was to my right, to my left, the view I had in front of me and the color of the sky. I remember who was with me or if I was on my own, and how I felt. I felt lost and numb, and sometimes sad, too.
I hear my feet louder now, they don’t hide their messages anymore; they always remind me to stay where I am, anchored in the physical world, no matter what’s going on in my mind.
And I can’t help but ask myself - if I’d had the tools I have now, the yoga and the meditation and everything it encompasses, how would I have lived that moment? Would it have been easier? Would I have made different decisions? Would I have seen things differently? How?
Want to make meditation your #1 tool in case of emotional emergencies like this one?
I can’t help but wonder.
A little while back, I found a song with these lyrics:
I strongly suggest you listen to this acoustic version of the song
(but you might cry... you've been warned).
I feel this is one of the ways I’d have felt hope back then if I’d have the practice I have now. If I’d had my mat to rely on as much as I do now, if I’d had my meditation practice to help me through and out and tough moments like this one. But one thing is sure: I want to remember how it feels to not have the tools, to feel lost and somewhat hopeless, to feel like you don’t have the right tools to get out of the pain. So I listen to the song and I remember… And feel grateful for the experiences.