As a solo traveler, many of my friends often ask me, “What are you going to do when you get there?” Another common question is, “Are you excited for your trip?” Most of my trips are for at least a month, so these are logical questions and always asked with good intentions. Unfortunately, they totally miss the mark of any journey. Excitement requires attention to be subtracted from the current moment. It also sets the hook for an attachment to a future event that may or may not happen.
Prior to going to India for my third trip and the teacher training, I knew that I would live in the ashram for 10 days, move to the yoga shala, and take a teacher training that would last a month. I was also hopeful that I would connect with friends from my previous visits to the area. I did have one massage booked prior to arrival. Beyond that, I did not set any type of expectation about what would or would not happen.
It is so easy to fantasize or daydream about things that might happen. It would be easy to spend lots of time and energy looking into the future and creating an extensive list of expectations. I could have imagined myself meeting my soulmate in the training and falling deeply in love. I could have envisioned a spiritual awakening where all my mortal problems would dissipate into space and be replaced with eternal bliss. Given the amount of anticipated yoga practice and diet change, it would have been very logical to imagine some type of change in my body. Perhaps six-pack abs?
In each one of these examples, some type of expectation could be set. Would my new love be tall? Would I float back to home on a magic carpet? Would AARP Magazine want to feature me for the “Abs over 50” issue? Allowing these ridiculous thoughts to roll around and gain traction might set a high-water mark that could either be met or not. If not met, would that equate to failure? Even if met, would I wonder if I could have done even better?
Yoga teaches a person acceptance. I go into each practice with the intention of always doing my best to stay in the moment and to achieve stillness in my mind. This is very different from walking into class with the attitude that today is the day that I will hold dancer pose for 90 seconds and my form will be perfect. Again, a ridiculous expectation is established, and judgement comes into play with being better than or less than the preconceived event.
My trips typically begin with flights, which are usually a wonderful place to test acceptance. It is never a clever idea to walk down the jetway with thoughts of being upgraded to first class, of being seated next to fascinating people, or of arriving early. Life is much more interesting when I accept a delayed flight as the universe telling me that I have another purpose in that moment.
What I do take on every trip is an intention to be very open to accepting what happens and to let each day unfold. The best memories of my life always come from the unexpected synchronicities of life that make each day richer. If coincident events are not happening to me with regularity, it is the universe telling me that I am on the wrong path. A cosmic hint to shift gears and change lanes.