In yoga, we are reminded by our teachers to take a moment each day to be grateful for all we have. We sit on our mats, eyes closed, and give recognition to how lucky we are. In class, relaxed and clear headed, this gratitude seems easy to find. But each day, outside of our yoga kula, this gratitude is often buried by life and its many happenings.
I recently visited Bali, Indonesia. A getaway I’ve dreamed of for years to make my surfing fantasies a reality. I pictured crystal clear ocean, white sandy beaches surrounded by colourful hibiscus and a peaceful tranquility. Everyone I’d met who visited the tiny island has a love story they attach to it. And I wanted mine.
From the moment I stepped outside the airport and onto a nearby street to catch a taxi, my mental image of Bali vanished as the reality took over. Traffic like I’ve never seen, four person families speeding along the road’s shoulder with no helmets in sight. Rows of run down shacks and empty lots of debris lined the streets.
I thought hopefully to myself, the beachside areas will be better. They were worse. Packs of locals trying to sell you anything from a flower petal to a paper fan chase us along the crowded walkway. Men in rickety boats constantly call to us for a “good price” island tour. Young children, shoeless and unaccompanied, reach for me to give them money, after all, in this part of the world we are rich. Millionaires to be exact.
As much as there is beauty in this very bustlingly popular place, I have never had my eyes opened quite like they were each day in Bali. I’ve never desired to come home after being away. I’m always upset on the last day of my vacations, dreading the routine life that awaited me. This time, for the first time, I looked forward to it. To the clean water, air, streets, and homes. To the opportunity, education, activities, and food. To the mundane job, routine weeks, orderly transportation, and safety.
It’s funny how we often go away to relieve ourselves from our realities only to learn that these realities are a blessing. My recent third world experience reminds me to take my gratitude with me outside the yoga world and keep it from being buried in my daily life.