Note: This summer I went to Spain. So much happened. This blog post is a bit longer than I had anticipated. I tried to only write about the highlights…but when you are a writer, this is what resulted. So, I broke it up into two parts. Here is part one. Enjoy!
Spain … my very own eat, pray, love
I fell in love with the book “Eat, Pray, Love” by Elizabeth Gilbert several years ago. I could picture myself in her shoes. I dreamt about the day I would have my chance to live such a fulfilling life. I really enjoyed and was inspired by all aspects of what those three parts entailed. There was the over-indulgence and simply letting go of all the worries of life and simply enjoying. The challenge of stripping away all the luxuries and diving into self-study. And of course, the finding love. Possibly true love. I wasn’t looking to copy her life. We are on different paths, as each of us on this planet are. But I felt, I too, deserved this kind of fairytale sort of life. Maybe not deserved. But certainly desired. Toward the end of my one-year cross county adventure, I met a woman who invited me to become a yoga teacher…in Spain. Suddenly, the possibility of living my very own eat, pray, love was within grip.
Being someone who is devoted to self-study, I understood I was embarking on some deep topics in my life: triggers, compassion, spirituality, attachment and love. I knew I wasn’t completely prepared (are you ever in life, though?) however, I was going with an open heart and trusting fully in the universe. I was going to Spain, some place I’ve never been before, not able to speak Spanish. I was traveling with someone who we tend to trigger each other but desperately want a deeper relationship. I would be giving up, or at least suspending, my favorite things: alcohol, weed, bacon and sex. I was going to school where there would be tests. Albeit I was learning something I was interested in, but my history of freezing on tests or giving up before the final, was pretty high. And yet, with all the obstacles, I was still going into this adventure with the attitude that everyday would be the Best Day Ever!
My trip was split up into three parts. The “eat” portion would be the first week. Here, I would travel with my mother, get my bearings and of course, enjoy the food. The second portion would be four weeks long. Here, I would learn what Kundalini Yoga really is and what it means to “pray”, have devotion and faith. My last three weeks in Spain, I would reflect on everything I had just gone through and find out if there truly was “love” after the eat and pray…
The night before we left on our epic journey, my mother and I had a fight. We were not off to a great start. Mother-daughter relationships are complicated. We are affected more deeply by the words the other is saying than if we had been simply close friends. We are each other, mirrors that we deny and refuse to look at. Defense mechanisms are on high alert. And without boundaries, even consciously aware people are triggered and lose their shit. Despite the conflict, I slept well and was eager for our journey together. I prepared for success the morning of departure by buying a journal, a breakfast sandwich and time. I sat in a park and meditated. In meditation, I asked for guidance to set boundaries and chanted my mantra “I am worthy of giving AND receiving love.”
Our route took us from Seattle, WA (USA) to Vancouver, BC (Canada) to Heathrow, England and finally to Barcelona, Spain.
As we had a long layover at our first stop in Canada, the eating portion began immediately. We enjoyed muscles in a white wine butter sauce, salmon sushi and each others company. I kept up my routine of Hatha Yoga and Muay Thai kickboxing practice while watching rampers on the tarmac load and unload planes. And of course, we met new friends. After several hours, we finally climbed upon the airbus, a plane neither my mother or I had ever been on before. There were two entrances. One for those on the bottom deck and another entrance for those of us on the first deck. This plane was massive. And the lovely British Crew was friendly and organized. Our flight took us over the north pole where it never got dark. I was assigned a window seat. I was excited to see new sights. Unfortunately, we were sitting in an emergency exit row without a proper window so I never really saw anything. We were however sitting across from the flight attendant that was especially cheery as it was his second flight of his new career. It was great to be in his presence. The night before’s argument became a distant memory as we time traveled from airport to airport.
The next airport was Heathrow in England. Without a gate assignment, mom and I decided to share some pizza. Mom was pretty tired as she had taken a sleeping aid and it was just now really kicking in. It was quite amusing. As the food arrived, I decided to check where our plane was. Good thing I did as our flight was boarding and our names being called. We boxed up the fancy overpriced pizza and dashed to our seats. This flight wasn’t too long but after 20+ hours of travel, I was ready to land.
We took a taxi to our apartment on Rambla del Poblenou, a cute and quite street in a neighborhood of Barcelona. We were greeted by one of the nicest hosts, Mercedes. She made us feel at home immediately…instantly we became friends. Mom and I settled into our new home quite comfortably. And despite being exhausted, we shared tapas at what would become our favorite restaurant, La Biennal.
Each day was filled with exploring the city, great food, laughter, siestas, more great food, and miracles. Sometimes miracles involved undercover police, some simply the kindness of others, including being handed a free city bus tour ticket and one where an African drum, that I dreamt about, became available for only 15euro. It was exciting to have my mother begin witnessing my life in a way I experience daily. And I began witnessing her as my true self in another form. I saw her for who she is. I began dropping judgement, years of resentment and defensiveness. It became amusing, enriching and healing. Our bond to one another, our conversations with each other and our love for one another deepened immensely.
As my mom’s journey in Spain came to an end, we celebrated her 60th birthday with our new friends. It was so amazing to be apart of. I am blessed to be my mother’s daughter!
With my backpack, hand bag and new drum, I boarded the metro (Barcelona’s subway system) and headed to Badalona, just north of Barcelona. I was greeted by Nadi, the woman who blessed me with this opportunity, with a warm hug. I was the first student there. She noted how “American” that was…not only was I on time, I was early. I was amused by this statement as I had recently been to a consciousness workshop in Boston where we spent 5 days attempting to get the entire group to commit to arriving on time. A difficult feat. I thought “Americans have a hard time being on time too. Maybe its just a human thing.” But I quickly learned that Spanish people really don’t regard time the same way as I was raised. In fact, dinner in Spain is typically served around 10pm. And everyone seems to mosey in when they feel like it. 20 minutes after class began, people were still straggling in. And we, as a class, quickly learned the importance of being on time or being locked out until the first break (there was no set time for break, mind you…sitting on the steps patiently waiting became a ritual for some).
There were many challenges, not just being on time:
- Cultural differences – we had people from all over the world
- language barriers (including being a bi-lingual class where only half the students could understand both languages fluently), and despite how hard I tried, I could not retain Spanish
- learning Sanskrit and being able to differentiate it from Spanish or Catalan
- retaining any of the massive amounts of information being spewed at us
- heat – it was humid and no air conditioning
- theft – while our class was in meditation, someone boldly entered the studio and stole Nadi’s backpack which had her only copy and un-backed-up yoga manual on it…so many challenges and lessons here
- Mosquitos – at one point I had 60 bites on just my right arm
- Removing a bat from the kitchen at 5 in the morning – this was an interesting challenge of relying on the universe to work through me to calm the bat down (and the girls in the house) long enough to help him escape. This was pure magic!
- tiredness from lack of sleep
- attempting to be vegan when my body literally craved meat but psychologically I was disgusted with the suffering and trying to make sense of it all spiritually
- muscle soreness from hours of daily practice
- emotional overwhelm (especially as an empath who could feel everyone else’s energy)
- communication – or miscommunication or other peoples lack of
- Internet and wifi issues – the town I lived in lost all internet and wifi for weeks and when it was working it was intermittent and slow. This would have been fine, letting go of technology, except part of our homework required it.
- Long commutes – the ranch where I and a few other students were staying was over an hour drive from class
- Being lost – every day!
- And being around people 24/7 … this was probably the hardest for me.
Despite the many challenges, or perhaps because of them, my experience was extremely enriching and powerful. Witnessing the magic of the universe was intensified these 4 weeks of class. I was learning to move energy through my chakras while holding body locks in order to awaken my soul. I was eager and open. But quickly found myself overwhelmed within days. In class, we discussed the eight limbs, a yogic way of ethically and meditatively living. And we were encouraged to sustain from animal products, drugs and alcohol. We also discussed sex and whether or not to have it. I had sex days before leaving the states so I thought I would be fine. I had been alcohol free for weeks and had popped my last dose of cannabis right before boarding the plane. These three things I thought I had under control. But now I was attempting to be vegan. My mind and body wrestled each other.
Toward the end of week one I was showing signs of getting sick. My glands in my throat were swollen. I was dehydrated, exhausted and running a fever. The emotions and energy moving through my body caused me to cry every day in class. Fortunately, swimming in the sea helped to clear some of the overwhelm. But it wasn’t enough.
On Sunday, our first day off, I woke with a bloody nose and a high fever. I did not have an appetite. I tried to stay positive. Practicing karma yoga, I cleaned the bathrooms and swept the floors of the ranch where I was staying. I needed to do my homework and practice my kriya as we had a test the next day. But my body was done. I felt like death. I crawled into bed to cry but didn’t have the energy to do so. Thankfully there was another witch in the house. My moon sister from Honduras took me under her wing. She placed crystals around me, chanted and smudged. She dabbed oils on me, made me a magic brew and changed the cloth on my head regularly. I laid in bed trusting this woman’s connection to source and allowed the universe to take hold of my body to heal. I did crawl out of bed long enough to sing happy birthday to our flat mate from France and taste the amazing vegan beet cake my new bff made. But that was all I could handle. I laid in bed and listened to the girls outside sing to the full moon. “Sara saa saa, Sara saa saa, sar rung. Har ray har har, Har ray har har, har rung”. I wanted to join them but really it was best I stayed horizontal. Being a moon worshiper, I relished in the chanting and began letting go of my sickness.
Before going to bed, my moon sister laid over me and held me tight. She whispered in my ear “Adventure, you will feel better in the morning.” She dabbed some “breathe” essential oil on my feet, hands and head and kissed my forehead before escaping to pray or chant or howl at the moon or whatever it is that Witch needed to do. And I fell into a deep sleep.
In the morning, I woke completely fresh. “Best Day Ever!” I cheered. The sickness was gone and I was ready for the new week!
That first day of week two, I passed my test. I also moved energy through my chakras. I chanted, practiced breathing techniques, moved through asanas, meditated and studied philosophy. And by the end of class I was being held by my new bff as I sobbed. Everything was intense. I welcomed the intensity and was thankful I was no longer sick.
Week two of Kundalini, my sex drive was on fire. Every sensation was heightened. Who knew that awakening your soul would mean learning to harness your sexual power? It wasn’t about pushing it down or denying it. No, this was about feeling the sensations in my body without giving them away. Toward the end of the week, I felt like I was going to explode. And my mind taunted me every step. I wasn’t smoking weed. I wasn’t drinking. I wasn’t eating animals. I wasn’t having sex. I was going crazy. I gave in one day. I ate a chicken wrap. It was orgasmic. It completely grounded me. I decided at that moment vegan wasn’t working. I didn’t want to completely go back to meat, just this one time. I would change to vegetarian for the remainder of the course. I was happy with my decision and immediately added eggs and ice cream to my diet.
Now, half way through the course, I went to a festival in Barcelona. It was wild, the people in the parade were dressed as devils and everyone had big sparklers whizzing around. There was even a bull that shot off fireworks. It was loud and crazy and so much fun. My bff and I danced all night in celebration of life and wonder. We both kept remarking “Wow, this is happening right now!” It was a great night.
Week three began with me being the first student teaching. I lead our class through a full Kundalini structure. I taught the Nahbi Kriya. The Nahbi is your navel area. It’s also where your third chakra, the solar plexus, is. That pent up sexual energy of the class began moving out of our Sacral chakra (pleasure and creation energy) into our core (willpower and confidence). It was amazing to watch and feel the transition. It also was humbling to sit and listen to feedback from each classmate. There were only a few things for me to work on but most of the feedback was “It feels like you’ve been teaching your whole life”. This reminded me the path I am on is the right one. And although I am anxious about teaching on a regular basis, it’s okay to slow down and rely on the wisdom of those before me. They will help guide me…as they always do.
For the remainder of the third week, everything began feeling normal. Even all the challenges. I still was not understanding everything in class, but that felt normal. We were still barely making it to class on time, this also felt normal. And I still wasn’t getting any sleep or eating enough…normal. But our little family at the ranch was bonding over music and found ourselves every night singing, dancing and drumming. This too was normal. Life was sweet!
The girls and I, at the ranch began week four with a New Moon Ceremony. It was quite special and our bond to each other was enhanced. I could finally see the mirror of each of them in me. I could see how I manifested them into my life. And vise versa. It was quite special. We shared food and stories. We chanted and sang songs. We spoke of our dreams and intensions. All under candlelight.
As I eased into the new and final week, my ego took hold. In class, our guru’s teacher taught us about the 10 bodies (we are all made up of the physical body, three mental bodies and six energy bodies) and tantric numerology (effective means to align with your higher self). We were lead through a series of moves called a Kriya that really opened up and exhausted my body. My kundalini energy was flowing and I just wanted to meditate. But it was time to discuss our numerology paths. This interest me a great deal so I fought with the notion of meditation and impatiently sat through each person’s conversation with the teacher. I even found myself unsettled with the teacher’s explanation of my path. “Your path is to breathe and be aware of your energy as it affects other people’s.” Really? I already know this…I was expecting something more profound. Ugh.
All the way home, my ego festered on those words. My blood was boiling. My life is not just about breathing… are you fucking kidding me? As I walked in the house on the ranch, I found myself suddenly unable to remain calm. My body shook as I began screaming. I looked at my flat mates with flames shooting out of my eyes, “I’m going for a walk”. I stormed out of the house and headed up to the cemetery.
I grumbled and swore the whole way. I was pissed. There was only one (person) who could fix this, help me to understand what this “teacher” was talking about, prove to him and the rest of the world that I was better than just my effing breath. At the front gates of the cemetery, I reached out to the sky and yelled, “Okay god, universe, goddess, infinity of love, what ever you need to be called right now…WE NEED TO TALK!”
And just at that moment, the heavens opened up and it began hailing. It had been sunny skies for weeks and at that moment, god spoke. As I found cover under a tree, I laughed, “or I’ll just sit here and listen.” The hail pelted the ground around me. I had no where to go. I just sat there and…breathed.
…stay tuned for part two…
Love and Hugs, Adventure (aka Adventure Mel)