Having spent two weeks meditating for between 3-5 hours a day and structured student life with nothing else to do but to immerse myself in the teachings, philosophy and practicum of meditation, to now be back home in a completely contrasted world where life just seems so much more ‘full-on’ for want of a better world, has had its own challenges.
The second day after arriving home I was still sleep deprived having not slept on both return flights home, or the first night in my own bed—48 hours without sleep was not fun. So, I guess you could say I was out of soughts and my rhythm with life and myself here in Melbourne. I must admit there was a large part of me that felt as though I wanted to be back in India, as much as I loved being in the arms of my husband and seeing family and friends, I did miss the simplicity of life over there and the structured days where meditation was almost the only thing there was to sit and do. Things like looking at social media, watching TV and driving an hour to visit my parents all seemed a lot for my mind and body to take in, it was almost as if I had been living in a dark cave for two weeks and that first day when coming out of the darkness and being blinded by the intensity of the sunshine—almost forcing me to turn back and go into the depths of hibernation again.
Don’t get me wrong I felt so grateful for being home, having the luxury of a ‘proper’ shower again and sleeping in a warm bed with a super thick mattress. Plus, the cuddles and long chats between my husband and I were just beautiful—I knew it would be up to me to be gentle with myself during this time of reintegration. It has been a challenge of bringing together all I have learnt back to the “western world” and creating a routine and way of living that was conducive to life here as I know it, all while weaving in the concepts and knowledge of the meditation philosophy and practice I had learnt over there.
So how did I do that? You maybe asking yourself, the first step I took was to make it known to myself that life there is different and that living that way here in this life just wouldn’t work. I had to get real with myself and know that meditating and doing breath work for two hours every morning followed my two hours of yoga just wouldn’t work for me, and the responsibilities I have here. If you’re anything like me you are somewhat a perfectionist or more specifically a reforming perfectionist, and the thought of not being able to replicate a beautiful practice and routine at times did get the better of me. I wasn’t so gentle on myself initially but began rather quickly to see that this tendency of replication and what I considered ‘perfection’ just wasn’t going to serve my health, my relationships and me. If anything the stress was undoing all the ‘work’ I had done on myself to help get my nervous system and myself back into a more easeful and calm state. This realization happened quickly—within a day or two and I began to experiment with ways I could cultivate a routine that in many ways resembled my routine in India but on a more condensed and practical level.
I asked myself what really resonated for me, what I saw as a non-negotiable and gave it time, but whilst remaining gentle with myself and flexible to life’s often unexpected circumstances. Having a routine whether it be a morning, evening or daily routine is important and brings more focus, meaning and presence to our day however, what we need to remember is there will be ebbs and flows, not everyday will look the same, we have other commitments and responsibilities to ourselves and others and at the end of the day all we can do is our best. My meditation teacher/guru said this quote which actually created an ”aha” moment for me and has had a lasting impact on me to this day. He said, “A calm mind creates a calm body.” You may be thinking “of course it does” but, to be reminded of this and to actually have witnessed it whilst I was away and again when coming home and reintegrating and cultivating a new routine, I could see that the more I focused on what I wasn’t doing, or how different or how much shorter my morning routine had become, the more stress I could feel in my body and the louder and more unsettled my mind became. I knew this wouldn’t serve me and to accept what I had control over, what length of practice I could set aside in my morning or whatever time of day, was enough because, the fact that I was continuing to show up for myself in and of it self is enough.
I feel quite passionate about the reintegration process because, I feel it’s something not often spoken about—learning a practice at such intensity, in a foreign country where you aren’t necessarily taught how to take what you have learnt and apply it to your world back home. I mean, how could I have been? When our way of life is so different especially coming from living in a school, living and breathing meditation and it’s teachings for an entire whole weeks.
My key principles to living a continued practice of meditation the best way possible:
Acceptance – of what you have control over and what you don’t
Awareness – of what works best for you and your practice—think time(s) of day, length of time for your practice, your environment etc.
Having a daily intention – making it clear to yourself and the universe of your intention for how you want yourself and your day to feel.
Remind yourself – perfection doesn’t exist and by showing up to the best of your abilities is more than enough
Be open and celebrate the flow – no two days will be the same, don’t fight the variances you encounter, stay open and go with the flow
You don’t have to have traveled to the other side of the world to learn meditation to find you have struggles with reintegrating or flowing with a new change. We all have our struggles with change and routine—if there is one thing that I have learnt over my time away and the four or so years before that is, self-compassion goes a long way. When we are compassionate to ourselves, we remain open and allow room for the ebbs and flows of life—we criticize ourselves less and our routine isn’t likely to stop all together because, we have an understanding for the need to adapt and be flexible. The more self-compassion we can show ourselves the more compassion we will have for others, and the more at peace our mind will be and hence our bodies will be too.