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5 Common Moving Dramas: And Yogic Ways to Avoid Them

So if you’re following my adventures on The Weekly Jo, you know I just moved to Brooklyn about ten days ago (hence the lag in postings!).  Betwixt attending/assisting at the Yoga Journal Conference (review to follow), interviews for jobby jobs (a reference inspired by my run-in with Snoop Doggie Dog in Central Park the other day – no really, I saw him!  You could feel the dude walking by, he’s such a big presence!), trainings for Hiking Yoga, hunting down a room (windowless but in a prime location!), and catching up with friends, I’ve been a busy little monkey.

And as with any major movement (just ask Bellini!) dramas are sure to ensue.  I’ve seen a few potential explosions this last week, and put out quite a few before they could ignite.  Others, well, let’s just say very little was destroyed in the fire!

Read on for 5 Moving Dramas I’ve experienced, and how – thanks to yoga – they could probably be avoided!

1. The anxiety of finding the “perfect” match.  We all wanna live in our ideal spot.  I can’t tell you how many times I went over pros and cons list of moving to New York vs. Hawaii vs. London vs. Seattle, but at some point, a decision had to be made.

And then you just gotta roll with it.

Probably the most versatile tool in my yogic belt’s been this brilliant little concept of santosha, translated from the Sanskrit as “contentment.”  It’s the ability to be neither thrilled nor saddened by your situation, but to position yourself in a place of satisfaction.  You can do this in any number of ways – eliminating your expectations and curbing your desires are the biggies that come to mind.  Everyone has their own method, but keeping santosha at the forefront of your mind during a move will ease a lot of the tensions that come with all the new-ness.

I’ve heard the phrase “Fake it til you make it” a million times, and that same message resonates here from Thich Nhat Hanh, a prolific Vietnamese writer and Buddhist monk, and one of Martin Luther King’s major influences:

“Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile, but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy.”

So smile, and be content :o)

Sweet location, rooftop yoga access, and my room ain't got no window. All good in this hood, baby!

2. Where did all the time go?!  Logistics take time.  Trolling through Craigslist for your brand new pad, interviewing with potential roomies/landlords, credit checks, monthly payments, calculating distance from the subway, fitting in furniture, buying new furniture, changing all your addresses, getting a new phone hookup, the works!

Going through this process, making sure I’m doing something to help me move forward each and every moment of the day, I thought back to this cool video I found on Karma Tube.  It explains cultural perspectives on time, and though it doesn’t include the yogic perspective (that time is really just a man-made concept, so in this case, do as much as you can when you can), it does shed some warming light on how others might view this all-pervading idea.

3. Finding yourself on the ‘wrong side of the tracks.’ 

So you’ve overcome the logistics of the move, some of the boxes are unpacked and you say to yourself, “I could really use a little adventure in my new hood,” and off you go, into the great abyss, crossing this way and that, in search of nothing but open to all.

Maybe you took a map, maybe you didn’t, but you do know it’s about time you get to know your new little corner of the world.  Fair enough.  But as I found out, just one week into my romance with Brooklyn, it’s not hard to end up in a touch of a danger, especially if you don’t know your new terrain.

Don’t get me wrong.  Having lived in London and San Fran, I do have some semblance of street knowledge under my belt.  When I decided to go wandering about Prospect Park alone to figure out the new Hiking Yoga path, I was sure I was well within the realm of safety.  It was light out, I was wearing pretty non-descript clothing, there were loads of other ladies walking about the place.  And yet, as I turned a sharp corner, out came this nasty figure, hooded up and shuffling, who groped me somethin’ nasty, and just kept on walking!

The culprit ran before I could figure out the "zoom" function - boo!

I took a photo of the creep running away and called 911 in the hopes they could catch him, question him, and somehow find some rehabilitation for his sick little mind.  It all went down so fast and with so little eye contact I’m sure he’d done it before!

So what was I to learn here?  What yogic technique could help a sister out? 

Well, the first thing that comes to mind is not so much yoga as a swift kung fu smack down!

But, staying true to the yama of ahimsa (nonviolence of thought, word and action!), I sat down for some time and contemplated what message was really at play here.

And I’ve come up with viveka.  According to Swami Sivananda (founder of one of my yoga alma maters), viveka is “discrimination between the real and the unreal, between the permanent and the impermanent, between the Self and the non-Self.”

So, in our spiritual life, we strive to discern between what seems to be going on, and what’s really going on, from the big picture perspective.  Maybe you’re in a tough spot now, but the only constant is change, so … tough it out and know that the trouble isn’t a permanent reality.  It’s just one of an infinite number of ever-changing circumstances that’s bound to be followed by a new circumstance.

In this instance, and in every instance, really, we can only benefit from utilizing full yogic discernment.  Before you jump into a binding lease, a house full of strangers, or a park full of weirdos, take a moment to become fully aware of what that entails.  Approach not with fear, but with unwavering focus and vigilance – and a can of mace probably wouldn’t hurt!

4. Gettin’ the “Lonely City Blues,” surrounded by 8.2 million fellow homo-sapiens.

It happens.  We all know that niggly feeling of loneliness, being in a new place, even if it’s just a new workplace, or perhaps not even in a new place, but in a place you’ve lived for what feels like ages.

It’s natural, it’s human.  And sometimes, it’s a little self-indulgent.

Fact is, if you’re feeling lonely, and you’re not simply pampering some underlying need to revel in the soft familiar comforter of your good ‘ole self-pity (*sigh*), there are a billion ways to meet people these days.  You could join OKCupid, or some other nu-skool dating site, and seek out your 99% match, even if it’s just for a friendly coffee rendezvous.  (Watch this space to hear more on that little experiment…)

Is it just me, or is that dude on the left just not very ... inviting?

But from a yogic perspective …. Vedantins would say your loneliness is an illusion.  Not very comforting, I know.

Bhakti Yogis would have you sing a song in praise of the Divine.

My favorite yogi answer to this inevitable little conundrum: Karma Yoga.

Just go out there and offer self-less service to some charity or organization that gives something to your community.  You’ll never regret this kinda move.  You meet loads of other peeps who’re down to lend a helping hand, and the hearts you touch through your efforts will warm you up faster than you can say, “Sweet Mama Theresa!”

“If you would contract, you must first expand.  If you would weaken, you must first strengthen.  If you would overthrow, you must first raise up.  If you would take, you must first give.” Lao Tzu in the Tao Te Ching.

5. No money, no honey.  It’s a fact: moving costs buko bucks.  Trucks, movers (if you’ve got enough junks), new furniture, higher rent (hey hey hey, New York!) – the list goes on and on.     So far I’ve come to grips with the fact that – at least for a while – I’ll probably end up being a lot like the immigrants in this all-too-appropriate skit from In Living Color (one of my teenage faves):

In other words, or rather, in yogic words, tapas is what we’re talkin’ about here.  It’s a focused effort, usually leading to purification, that often requires the renunciation of certain worldly luxuries.  Pinch your pennies, eat like a pauper, and give up those decadent $5 lattes, because those first few months (at least for me!) are definitely gonna require a reeling in of hedonistic tendencies.

(A few solid sites that’ve helped me stay healthy while living on a tight budget are Groupon and Vitacost.  The latter is the cheapest site I’ve found for health foods, supplements and toiletries, definitely worth checking out!)

I’ve also been lucky enough to have a really supportive network of friends and family both in NYC and on the other side of the planet.

Loved ones + yogic techniques = :), every time.

Good luck on your next move!

 

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Yoga Lovin’ in Banares

A week with Rajuji is like dipping your toes in the Ganges on a hot summer day – shocking to the body, and just enough “aaahhh” to make you wanna jump right in!

We spent two hours in the mornings practicing pranayam, much to the delight of my respiratory system, and another two hours later in the evenings on asana and meditation.  Sweet, sweet practice holiday – how do I love thee?  Let me count the ways . . .

1.       Despite the change in weather (from beachy warmth to jacket weather cold) and the somewhat manky conditions of my living quarters in Varanasi, I managed to avoid getting sick.  In fact, I cured myself of the nasty throat bug I imported from our charming desert abode!  Go, go gadget yoga!

2.       I was able to bust into some pretty advanced arm balances, albeit with the help and careful observation of my teacher.  Something to work toward doing independently . . .

3.      Good friendships were solidified, and new seeds planted as well.  Raju Baba and his lovely wife Bridgitte introduced me to their new kitties and we bonded over many a chai.  Alok, Rajuji’s apprentice, is now my penpal and friend.  Good times!

4.       In the light of seva (service), I thought of an idea to implement over my next visit: Seva for Mama Ganga!  It’ll be the first community outreach program through Project Surya (my seva brain child) where we’ll clean up the litter in and around the river.  As a thanks to participants, I’ll be teaching a free yoga class.

5.       I learned a sweet pranayam sequence from Rajuji that correlates with the chakras – stoked to share this with my students!

6.       Though being on “Planet Yoga” makes coming back to the “Real World” that much more difficult, I deepened my appreciation for life in India, and am now certain of my commitment to spending six months there to learn, teach, write (articles, blogs, start of the novels) and develop yoga programs with my teachers.

7.       New opportunities for the future have made their potential known!  Rajuji asked me to be a part of his yoga school and perhaps do a tour of northern India, teaching side by side.  Rock.

A week of yoga in Varanasi left me with a light heart, a focused mind, and a renewed appreciation for my personal practice – which, frankly, had begun to sometimes feel tedious and stuck in a rut.

Below are some yoga-centric photos from my week at Om Shanti Yoga Niketan in Banares (Varanasi).  More on the overall trip to come!

 

Get more YOGA LOVIN’!

I’ll Give You a Topic …

“Everyone should try working abroad at least once in their lives.  Discuss …”

Pretty bold statement, I’d say.  Afterall, not all people in this world have the resources, or even the desire, to pick up and move to a relatively unknown land.  To most people it sounds like an utterly absurd, if not at least logistically implausible suggestion for the future.  The “cons” list comes naturally to most, but the “pros” are so rarely heard – afterall, most of us who’ve reaped the benefits are probably still abroad :o)

So before you write off the idea completely, check out this week’s top ten:

Top Ten Myths About Working Abroad: BUSTED!

1.      “It’s just never crossed my mind.”  Oh come on, really?  Not even once, in the way far back regions of your brain?  Let’s face it. You’ve been to Mexico, maybe Europe or Asia.  You’ve checked out beautiful beaches, amazing architecture, fabulous food, and at some point on the trip, you’ve thought to yourself, “How can I do this for longer?  Could I actually live here?”  The answer is yes!

2.      “I’d feel really alone.”  Au contraire, mon frere!  Whilst abroad, you’ll meet such a range of people to share and connect with.  They’ll come from intriguing lands, and have stories and points of reference you’d never imagined possible.  Some of my best friends I met while teaching in Japan and Thailand.  We’re still in touch, rendezvousing in clever places, reminiscing about the times we shared in the petrie dish abroad.  But the beauty of it is, we would never have met in our respective countries, even if we were from the same place!  In some cases, our backgrounds couldn’t be more different – but we found more than just common ground while we explored the nether regions of the world together.  We found truly golden friendships I treasure everyday.  (Of course, you’re bound to meet some freaks while you’re abroad too!  Coming up: “The Stereotyped Expat.”)

3.      “I can always go on holiday there.”  True.  When you take a vacation somewhere exciting, sometimes you get more of a cultural learning than the locals will ever bother exploring!  Coming from Hawaii, I hardly batted an eye lash at the luaus, hula and history until I left the islands and fully began to appreciate the power of my homelands.  But when you actually move to a new country, for at least six months, you get so much more from the locals – every day, even the most minute detail can be a fascinating experience.  Jump feet first into a new language, art, social scene, shopping, music world, sport or religion – whatever gets you going!  Living abroad constantly pushes your boundaries, giving you a broader perspective everyday.  You may try a new food wonder how you ever lived without this in your life!  The next day, a television program, not even in your language, makes you giggle to the point where you’re watching it every day.

4.      “Working abroad is for crazy people.  I’m just a normal guy.”  Many of the English teachers I met in Japan were taking a year off from their stressful professional lives.  I met lawyers, accountants, marketing managers, all mixed in with the wild young travelers and weirdo writers looking for creative input.  When you’re living abroad, everyday is an adventure.  Tasks as monotonous as going to the supermarket or postoffice become a real experience.  What is “normal” becomes foreign, and your definition of “cool” takes on a whole new dimension.  Suddenly, all the rules are different, and you begin to realize your real priorities, in the context of an international community.  Working abroad isn’t just for the madmen and wild ladies – it’s for anyone with an open mind and even a mild curiosity for the unknown.

5.      “If I live abroad, I’ll lose my friends back home.  Life will have moved on without me.”  It’s totally natural to be afraid of a big move, even if it is temporary.  Our genes have survived this long based on some very healthy fears.  But if your friends are truly your friends, you’ll never lose them to a few thousand miles’ distance.  And besides, you’ll have some fabulous stories to tell whoever’s interested. Universal street cred ;o)

6.     “I’m too bloody old to live abroad.”  Any age, any experience – the world is your oyster.  I met teachers between the ages of 21 and 61 abroad, some who decided to make the great leap with their husbands or wives.  Some even met their partners abroad.  Age ain’t nothin’ but a number, especially when you cut the umbilical cord from your home country and witness the possibilities abroad.

7.      “Working abroad is professional suicide.”  Not quite.  Granted, when you make your way back to your home country, you’ll likely notice promotions in places where you once sat.  But don’t underestimate the power of international work experience.  At least according to the employment websites and recruiters I’ve spoken to, international employment is one of the least common and most impressive extra-curricular CV-bolsters you could invest in.  More and more, employers are looking to experience as the true reflection of a candidate’s potential.  If you prefer to work abroad in your previous career (instead of making a switch to teaching English), there are opportunities in every corner of the world.  You just need to look for them.

8.      “Going abroad right now is dangerous!”  It’s safe, no really, it is!  Just as safe, if not safer, than living in your home country.  When I was living in Berkeley I met a guy who’d been held up by gunpoint walking home from work.  For a few moments, his life was on the line, all over a few bucks the assailant decided was more important than this dude’s life.  Never once did I feel threatened or in danger living as a single woman in Thailand or Japan – and here in the UAE I get the same feeling.  Granted, you need to know your rights before you board that plane.  The way governments deal with crime is very difference, country to country, and it’s much better to be in the know before you go.

9.      “It’s just too hard to find a job.”  No matter where you’re considering, there’s a teaching job – or otherwise! – for you.   So long as you have a Bachelor’s degree, and English is your first language, getting a job teaching English abroad is easy like a Sunday morning. Europe is more competitive, since the language is already so prevalent, but if you’re flexible, there is a job for you there.  Japan is the most competitive market in Asia, but a simple weekend TEFL course will already put you a head above the rest when applying.  Schools like AEON, where I got my start, are a lot more corporate: organized and well-paid, though they expect more from you.

There are hundreds of other options, teaching young kids, at private language schools or even private schools.  China and Korea are the latest big employers on the scene, Thailand, Vietnam, Saudi Arabi, the UAE, the list goes on and on.  And that’s not even counting South America or Africa!  Basically, there’s an English school in most every country, so if you want it, go and get it.

10.      “I have a house/significant other/dog/child.  I can’t work abroad.”  It may seem like you have too many responsibilities to board the next flight to Greece or China, but kids and mortgages don’t have to be deal breakers.  Consider renting your property out and hire a management company to keep an eye on the details.  Got kids?  Why not take them with you?  I’ve met quite a few single women and couples who’ve taken their babies with them on the journey.  A host of international schools and expat support systems make all this possible – believe me, you wouldn’t be the first to take a family abroad.  Need to store a few things?  No problem.  Most cities and even some rural spots will have ample storage facilities at reasonable prices.  Just get a few friends to help you on the big  move day and celebrate with some dinner afterward.

The point is: don’t let stuff bog you down.  “Stuff” is supposed to make our lives better – a stove for warming food, a TV for entertainment – but try not to let your stuff rule your world.  You probably don’t need half the stuff you have, and a seasonal Goodwill donation will probably feel really good, at the end of the day.  Believe me, you’ll be lighter and brighter for it!

Without a doubt, preparing to work abroad is like a full time job.  It’ll take months to get everything in order, from mailing addresses to weighing out your luggage.  But believe me, if you just approach it with a bucket-fulla patience, it’s really not that bad!

So there you have it.  Working abroad lends a host of measurable benefits, not to mention the joys of travel and the realization we’re all part of a vast international community.  There are the downsides: logistical challenges, separation from friends and family, and the fear of the great unknown.  It may not be for everyone, but don’t write it off before entertaining the idea!

Musica Vids for Your Viewing Pleasure

Teaching in the middle of pretty much no where, and certainly no longer a part of the music industry, keeping a finger on “the pulse” is just about as feasible as keeping my kindergarteners from snotting on themselves.  Yeah.  Impossible.

However, thanks to the magic of the intrawebs and the occasional hour long sesh on a handful of old virtual haunts, I’ve still been able to find a few new tunes to keep me on a level.  They’re not all new, and most of them don’t even have official videos (in fact, none of these below do!).  But here’s my Top 5 Tracks of the moment, the soundtrack to week 3 in the UAE.

1. Dance or Die by the Kansas sensation Janelle Monae – with SAUL WILLIAMS!  By far, the best track on this album, which, though brilliantly produced, is just a bit too trend-of-the-moment 60’s to be a full-album classic for me.  I heard this track on the Gilles Peterson show – one more gem discovered in the UK master’s vaults.

2. The Roots are back yet again, covering a range of songs fulla funk and political savvy.  One of my faves off first listen, Our Generation


3. Old release, but this song just tickles the romantic in me.  Check out the Yeah Yeah Yeah’s, Hysteric.


4. Get yer minimalist fix with just about any track by Pantha Du Prince – who recently worked w/ Panda Bear of Animal Collective on an oddly vocal track off his last album.  This little nugget of noise is from his first full length, The Bliss.  A carry over from last year’s Thailand dream …

5. Suggested to me by a dear old friend, something to listen to when you’re feeling like the world’s on your shoulders… Jefree‘s shoulda-been-classic, Mr. Fixit (do appreciate the momentous intro…)

5 Reasons to Hit Up Kathmandu (video!)

So this second travel blog is a big of a cheat – again!  I visited my dear friend Wendy in Kathmandu to meet her family and see the sites.  Two weeks of livin’ in the citaaaay . . .

Ray Charles and Stevie Wonder – livin’ for the citay!

Posted below is the VIDEO(!) I wasn’t able to upload in Kathmandu or India due to slow internet and inconsistent connections.  My monologue is notably repetitive – I wasn’t reading from a script, just woke up and busted out the camera for a stroll through town.  So bear with me!

And here are the previous Kathmandu posts from the old “Indialoha” blog . . .

5 Reasons to Hit Up Kathmandu

If you’re a trekker, a hippie, a tourist or just curious, Kathmandu is an incredibly unique place to visit. For me, this was a purely personal adventure, connecting with Wendy and meeting her family – checking out the city was more of a cherry on top. But after my 14 day stint there, I can say with 100% certainty, I’ll be back – this time to climb that mountain!

So, top 5 reasons to consider Kathmandu for your wishlist . . .

1. The people. Not so much shiny happy people as dirty and content.  The locals take pride in their resilience, their ability to adjust under some seriously rough conditions.  Shopkeepers are always eager to share a cup of tea, if you’re so inclined, and it’s not all about the hard sell. I also have great appreciation for the hordes of people who pinched Alex’s cheeks throughout the trip.  Literally, the boy would gather the masses, like some kinda reincarnation Buddha Baby!

CLICK THE PHOTO TO SEE THE FULL ALBUM:

People of Kathmandu

2. Tasty tid bits! MOMOs, the delicioso local dumplings, are found in pretty much very restaurant you go, Nepali or not.  The dahl, rice, spicy potatoes and pickles are must-eat faves in the city.  And of course, whatever international cuisine you want, Kathmandu’s got it.

CLICK THE PHOTO TO SEE THE FULL ALBUM:

Tasty Tid Bits – Kathmandu

3. The shopping here rocks.  Wooly sweaters and hats for the chilly mountain winters, and cotton-hemp blends for the sunny dry summers.  I am in fashion heaven! Need a Pashmina for your Gramma?  Journal for your crazy traveling niece?  Used book to keep you company on the plane ride?  Not a problem.   Singing bowls, Buddhist paraphernalia, incense, jewelry and wooden crafts pour out from every tiny doorstep.  And if it’s trekking gear you’re after, the city is teeming with it – just don’t forget to haggle hard!

CLICK THE PHOTO TO SEE THE FULL ALBUM:

Kathmandu Shopping

4. Adventures round every corner. Yes, life here is often bizarre for us foreigners.  Even my Thai friends were shocked to hear I was going to visit a third world country, rife with political issues.  “Nepal.  Dirty?”  Asked my 10 year old private student, with a look of utter confusion.  A country where the monarchy was massacred by one of their own only 9 years ago.  Where uprisings and censorship are as common as steamed dumplings, everywhere UN agencies trying to figure the next best move.

CLICK THE PHOTO TO SEE THE FULL ALBUM:

Bizzaro Kathmandu

And that’s just the big picture.  Take a closer lookand you’ll find butcher shops on the side of the road so dire it’ll turn you vegetarian.  Little old ladies screaming bloody murder through the streets.  Millions of pigeons coming at you at lightning speed!  Sounds like your kinda holiday?  I didn’t think so.

But there’s something fascinating about life on the precipice of change, and yet at the same time, bound by the inertia of tradition.

And fortunately, Nepal also boasts trekking sent down from the gods, with the regal Mt. Everest just over the horizon.

5. A good balance of exotic and safe. Being here with Wendy and The Boys, I have a whole new perspective on traveling.  When you’re with loved ones, you worry about their health, their safety, and of course, their holiday cravings.  It’s not the easiest city in the world, but hey, it’s the third world. When I got lost looking for the Indian Embassy, friendly locals made sure I got there. And never once did I feel threatened, walking around alone – even at night.  The eats are clean in most places – in fact, I only got sick once, from eating market-purchased grapes and not washing them in iodine – my bad!

Big thanks to Amar Bajracharya for some of the photos in the albums above (and all the photos below)!

I made a ten minute video but haven’t been able to secure internet for more than 3 hours in a row to upload it online.  Electricity goes out all the time in Nepal, and even in Delhi, India!