trust the process

I have been carrying some heavy stuff.

Literally, carrying it like a ton of horrendously heavy bricks, in my lower back.

I kept thinking that I was unusually calm about my move. Yeah, I was crying here and there when I’d say goodbye to friends or think too much about being far away from my family but, in general, I felt cool as a cucumber.  Until exactly one week before my flight when every single emotion I was feeling moved right into my lower back and made itself at home. Classic. The plane ride was somewhat brutal; if not for my adrenaline and some Tylenol PM, I’m sure I would have had to lie down in the aisle and cry.  I did come close to having a full cavity search at the Frankfurt airport because I forgot to take off my CVS one-use heating pad before I went through security. Needless to say, I arrived in India unable to get up from sitting down without limping and groaning.

I have been carrying Change. And all of the unknown that comes along with it.

My new friend Diane empathized and made me an appointment for an Ayurvedic massage.  It was time to begin making things right between my mind and my body and, as it turns out, there is an Ayurvedic center just a walk down the beach away from my house.

Never one to turn away from massage, I went for it.

And…I wore a loincloth.

No discreet removal of the clothes and tucking away under a blanket with a soft knock on the door to see if I’m ready.

Papadhi directed me to undress, tied a loincloth on me and escorted me to a wooden table. All without saying a word.

If I hadn’t been so scantily clad, I might have bolted from the room then and there but as I climbed up on that hard wooden table and Papadhi prayed over the oil she just heated and touched one drop to the center of my forehead, I knew I was right where I was meant to be.

I closed my eyes and let the treatment that millions before me have received, over thousands of years, unfold.

After the hot oil rub and pounding of my scalp that left me looking like Sai Baba, Papadhi vigorously massaged the oil into each of my limbs, into my belly, my back and neck and then led me to the corner of the room…

I sat down on a little stool inside a steaming box, Papadhi closed the hatch, leaving only my head sticking out and I promptly began to freak out. My calm, Ayurveda bliss disappeared.  My mind was whirling: how can I hold myself up like this? how long will I be in here? what if sweat drips into my eye? how long will I be in here? how long will I be…and then Papadhi left the room.

I was stuck. Alone. Naked. In a hot box.

what if I have to get out and I can’t get out? what if 10 guys come through that door? what if she never comes back?

I closed my eyes (solution to sweat not dripping in), I relaxed my shoulders (solution to holding my head up) and I took a deep breath (solution to everything else). And then another breath.

I breathed some more and reminded myself to trust the process.  (Millions of people, over thousands of years, wouldn’t think this was transformative if they were having anxiety attacks every time they had a treatment…)

When Papadhi let me out I almost fainted. I was buck naked except for my loincloth, with a giant afro, sweating like a beast and unable to see, but I felt just right.  Papadhi rubbed all of my stress to the surface and then gave me space to sweat out my fear of the unknown.

I walked home on the beach smiling, feeling lighter; waves crashing, wind blowing, kids playing cricket in the sand.

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be here now

Before I moved to India I spent a lot of time thinking about shoes.  Ask my friend Denise, she’ll tell you.

I obsessed over open-toe vs. closed-toe, the benefits of a rinsable, recyclable sandal, whether I’d need sneakers or sport sandals (yuck!) and everything else shoe related one could possibly obsess over.

When I was done with shoes, I moved on to over-thinking about pants, about toiletries, about exactly how much contact solution a girl might need before she can hit up Target again in a year.

And now I’m here.

I am here where it’s dusty and sandy and wet and dirty and hot and all at once smells wonderful and then, in an instant, terrible. I am here where the roads end without warning and the traffic is insane and there are no rules but there are so many rules and there are cows in the streets and the same dog is everywhere and the people… the people!

Women draped in bright saris, loops of jasmine in their hair. Men in lungis with wild hair and mustaches galore. Knobby-kneed children in finely pressed school uniforms walk in groups giggling and swinging invisible cricket bats.

Tuk-tuks barrel down the road, tooting horns, blaring horns, birds, birds and more birds, the lovely, loopy lilt of people speaking Tamil in the streets, waves crashing outside of my bedroom window.

Everything is new. My senses are on serious overdrive and shoes and pants and all that other stuff I was trying to control?

None of it matters.

I’m here. Now.

street scene

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