In January, while completing my yoga teacher training, in India, I met some amazing people. They were from different parts of the world, and of different backgrounds, but they played an important role in the life-changing experience I went through. Near the end, a group of us spent time together on a sandbar in the Gangas River, surrounded by mountains as we shared our views on life by a fire.
Chanika, a energetic soul, brought a new perspective to light. She explained the commonality whereby individuals express having found “the right one”. The notion many hold as to romantically imply, “the right one [forever]”.
For those who travel frequently, as I do, it becomes clear, when you open your life for other people to enter, amazing people will. When such experiences occur, we must also accept, and acknowledge, possession causes suffering, as taught by our philosopher, Guru Muhk.
Bearing this in mind, Chanika continued,
“It’s not just ‘the right one’, the forgotten full version includes ‘for right now.’ It’s supposed to be ‘the right one, for right now.’”
While the flames held my gaze, the words seeped into my sprouting subconscious, and soaked the soil with nutrients.
Over the following months the paradigm shift manifested in my life. Reigning in the previous focus-on-the-future attitude, and active pursuit to extend relationships as long as possible. Replacing this newly formed vacuum with presentness. The release of expectations, to trust what’s supposed to happen will, and learning a life force must be let go with symmetrical ease as we would want to be first embraced.
These three pillars have framed my new approach to life, and the encounters I’ve had with people since, were exceptional. They’ve all been such new and dynamic experiences, however, the latest was different in one crucial way.
Having met someone in Hong Kong, we arranged to meet up in Nha Trang, Viêt Nam for a week. Our previous time was fun, diverse and enjoyable, so why not? Isn’t this the whole point of this new life? To live in new places, understand new people, try new things? Furthermore, travelling is the emotional equivalent to an aquariums’ eco-system — containing all necessary functioning pieces in a to-scale version of life.
We had booked an Airbnb for a week, close to the beach, and easily accessible. I made the journey down from Da Nang and we met up. The inner workings of two people are always interesting to me. At first there is the excitement of meeting up again, in a new place and with great weather. We openly communicate, both have similar travel styles and share many opinions; my excitement was genuine. Once the initial excitement dissipated, and the nuances of a day-to-day outline kicked in, I really started to peer into her personality, and I’m sure the opposite is true. The reason I say “day-to-day outline” is because it wasn’t so much a “vacation” where every waking moment is packed doing activities nor was it spent entirely at the Airbnb. It was about living like normal people for a week, combined with a few more activities than one may typically participate in.
I came to understand, being four years older was akin to a time capsule. Seeing traits, perspectives and approaches similar to those in my circle, and my own behaviour, simply a few years ago, spoke to me about the growth I’d been through. I’m curious how often this happens to my older friends?!
Previously, I considered myself an extrovert. As I became more self-aware, the label shifted to outgoing-introvert, by way of numerous experiences, both intended and unexpected. One factor of this shift was the growing confidence in handling silence while being alone, and the resulting independence as a bi-product.
All my life, I’ve known people who couldn’t, or wouldn’t, do things on their own. They had to have someone with them. As if being alone was something to be avoided. This mentality played out during our trip. Accepting I need, and am comfortable with, time alone was hard for this individual to grasp. Though, I must acknowledge her willingness to hear out my perspective and advice on the matter, not acting on my request for individual space was an area of opportunity.
Every meal, walk, activity and conversation was shared, she provided activity suggestions and conversational topics but didn't make decisions. To be frank, this was challenging. Of course, the majority of the time would be together. I simply didn’t think it’d be every second. Having space gives each person room to breathe, explore and be themselves. It refuels your energy for each other when back in mutual company. Wanting alone time, in this case, had nothing to do with the other party. I know myself, I have my own life, our being here together doesn’t put out this fact. A independent person not only respects this, but recognizes it in themselves. Those who are independent understand the difference between being alone and loneliness.
As mature as she was, this was an area for growth. Part of the above lesson develops over time, and comes with building a personal identity. The more we come to know who we are, what we believe and what we want, the more the concepts of being alone, loneliness, identity and independence become clear.
For those who know this is a trait to develop, be proud you know it's to be strengthened! The next step is to act, forcing yourself into environments which will allow you to experiment and observe results. Perhaps you talk a walk in a new area of town alone, hang out at a low key place, or something bigger such as taking your first solo trip, as I have done.
Solo trips will seem terrifying at first. A foreign land, currency and, possibly foreign language are all intimidating. However, they're also simple to overcome and immensely helpful at fostering independence. Not knowing anyone makes it easier to laugh at yourself when you make a mistake. Who cares what others might think?! Even if they told you, you wouldn't understand their language anyways. Besides, you think you're the first foreigner to do the dumbest thing they've ever seen? That's a little self-absorbed.
Give yourself the room to grow, and it'll happen naturally. I'm not saying it'll be without growing pains, it won't be, but over time, you come to acknowledge and appreciate them. Soon, you'll learn how to put yourself in environments and circumstances which provide healthy opportunities for development. As you practice doing so over and over, you'll become more capable of taking on larger steps of change. Start by taking the first step, each one thereafter will become more natural.