Colleen’s Journal: Where Is Enlightenment?
I’m going to begin this story the way a good friend of mine always begins his, with a voice and a phrase that tickles my spirit and invites it to dance.
This story is a classic demo of how fiesty pitta (our fire energy) can make us impulsive, determined, easily enraged people, and high vata (our wind energy) can make us indecisive, flighty, wishy-washy, insecure, and downright irritating to be… around.
But don’t get me wrong.
Vata (or any of the three doshas: vata-pitta-kapha) isn’t to blame for our actions, they simply shed light on why we choose to do certain things at certain times.
Why our minds create certain thought patterns.
Why we’re sometimes freaked out about the future.
Why we cling to the past or the one that got away.
Why we feel like we require ice cream or cheese doodles for survival when we know we’re going to feel like crap for it.
They help us better understand our mind energy and body energy and the synergistic alignment of the two.
When the tridosha are happily balanced, existence is a lovely little place with trees and sunshine and a pool and a healthy snack bar serving fresh coconut water with colorful little paper umbrellas on top.
It’s blissful peace and peaceful bliss, pure and simple.
But there’s no tequila shots. Or cheese doodles.
So… my story.
“Once it happened…”
I booked a flight from India to Spain.
Then a week later, from Spain to India.
Then back to Spain.
Then just a day later, I found myself standing at the airport check-in line, holding yet another e-ticket to Mumbai in my sweaty hand (that’s right, back to India), wondering what the heck I was doing.
My thoughts raced and swirled and collided.
Wasn’t I just in India, miserable, homesick, scattered-brained, and exhausted?
Then in Spain where things were supposed to be better but they weren’t (because they rarely are when we make our physical location the solution to all our problems)?
Now, here I was, about to go back to India, and to Mumbai of all places, to find my sanity there, seeing as it wasn’t in Calcutta, or Spain, or anywhere else I’d checked out lately.
My stone-filled, fairy-dusted backpack loomed on my shoulders.
Rivulets of sweat trickled between my breasts.
I felt gray and dry (‘cept for the sweat).
All these people around me looked so normal and happy with their snappy roller suitcases and not-at-all anxious about going somewhere different.
I guess they didn’t go somewhere different every other day.
It was Christmastime and I had been volunteering for the Mother House in Calcutta, one of the most impoverished cities in India, to help some of the most destitute people in the world (how the heck was I going to help anyone if I couldn’t even honor my own decisions?).
I’d been in India only two weeks and was nearing the end of my self-imposed but somehow accidental year of transformation.
I’d walked two pilgrimages in Spain already, each one (actually the same one) 800 km long, and about 30 days to complete.
I’d also separated from my husband (and subsequently we decided to divorce), hiked for three weeks in the Nepalese Himalayas, then headed to India for more self-enlightenment smack in the form of silent meditation and volunteer work.
That was clearly ferocious, strong-willed pitta messing with me, telling me that self-transformation meant hard-work meant pain meant lost toenails.
And that completing three major treks within six months (with photos to prove it), disciplined self-reflection and silence, and charitable work (all of this happening alone for the first time in ten years) proved I was capable of something.
I waited for enlightenment to occur. As if enlightenment was something I could attain (read: enlightainment).
Tick tock. Have you ever felt this confused?
So, standing at that airport, vata’s dynamic wind gusted through my impressionable mind, scattering debris and I feared making the wrong decision… again.
I cancelled my flight, grabbed a bus back to the place I’d woken up at that morning, and reunited with my “friend” (a very confused but happy man).
I ate white bread (pan) and oily potatoes (patatas fritas) and drank lots of red wine (vino tinto) for a long time.
My body craved sustenance, heavy food, security, and sleep.
Kapha’s energy dominated my body while vata’s wind whipped through my mindspace and pitta knew she wasn’t getting a fire lit this time around (unless someone messed with her vino).
A week later? My skyscanner app was timing out from overuse because I was still contemplating going back to India.
And now, not just India.
I threw Nepal into the pool of potential options, along with Myanmar, SouthEast Asia, and the whole of Africa.
My friends and family patiently thought I was nuts.
I was just looking for that place.
You know, that place where the answers are.
(Nevermind that I didn’t know what the questions were).
Finally, three months later I settled on moving to Indonesia and when I walked into my apartment for the first time (where I would live for two years), I saw that every single wall was mirrored.
Even that space between the kitchen countertop and cupboards so that while cooking, I had a constant view of my midsection.
Doesn’t everyone want to stare at their gut while they prepare food?
But talk about a self-confrontation.
It was like the Universe was saying, “You wanted answers, dear girl. Tsk. Tsk.”
Ultimately (and quite symbolically), I did find that place where the answers are (I hope I don’t have to spell it out for you), as well as a great many questions.
The more I saw of myself and the longer I stayed put somewhere and engaged with a routine, the more stuff started to make sense.
I sniffed out my bullshit and started shoveling.
Moving around for me is perhaps not the best kind of lifestyle for my vata-dominant mind.
But staying in one place isn’t either because I’m what they call a digital nomad–I travel as a lifestyle and work remotely.
Was there some way to reconcile my body’s need for stability and routine with my desires for change and adventure?
I’d heard a bit about Ayurveda before. It seemed like one of those quacky things that recommended homeopathic hacks like eating spoonfuls of clarified butter called ghee.
I was not going to spread something that sounded like some French dude on my toast just because a wise man in India thousands of years ago said it could change my life.
But it kept popping up in my life somehow.
So finally, behold Ayurveda and discovering that my weird and wonderful vata-pitta constitution could actually help me.
It could help me make better decisions.
It could help me understand myself better.
It could help me expand instead of getting stuck in these windy little hobbit homes of indecision.
It could calm the ferocious mental hurricane that I believed was my destiny because my grandmother was also a known wisher-washer.
It could help me align what I needed with what I wanted.
Life doesn’t have to be hard.
And we don’t have to make it hard on ourselves to be heroes in our own lives.
We can actually (yes, actually) find peace and happiness not by going to new places but by going to the most familiar place in the world.
You don’t have to wait until you discover an entire network of problems in your life.
Or until you’re fed up with yourself.
Or until you’re sick or overweight or chronically mucusy.
Or even until you wonder why, again, another relationship didn’t work out.
Get to know yourself now.
Act preventatively to preserve your peace, health, and happiness.
Create alignment from the inside out.
Find out your mind-body type here and behold the pieces falling into place like they always knew the way.