The pace of life is slower and strangely more bureaucratic in Central America. For one thing, there’s no Google search with Costa Rica results, or GPS, or even a reliable internet connection! These are all things I had come to depend on in my day-to-day life in the States before I left – especially GPS, as this girl is was not there the day they handed out a sense of direction. For another thing, when you do find out where you need to go to accomplish a task at hand, the person who can help might be out for lunch, or the week, you might learn on arrival that you need a list of documents that don’t seem to correlate at all to the task at hand, or you may find that you must first visit two other offices before returning to building number one to accomplish your goal.
I was advised of this on my first day in Nicaragua on talking to my fellow yoga teacher at Pure Gym. She told me that she feels highly accomplished with her day if she’s able to cross off three items on her to-do list. I look at each of these time challenges as an opportunity to cultivate patience. Eckhart Tolle says that any time we are waiting for something to happen, we are living in the future and not in the present moment.
“Give up waiting as a state of mind. When you catch yourself slipping into waiting, snap out of it. Come into the present moment. Just be, and enjoy being. If you are present, there is never any need for you to wait for anything.”
So I use the time I find myself in long lines to draw myself back into the present moment. I perfect my Tadasana. It’s a sneaky form of yoga because nobody even knows I’m practicing. I start at my feet, focusing on distributing the weight evenly through the four corners and lifting up on my arches. I draw the energy up, activating my legs and hugging the muscles to the bone. I find a gentle drawing down of my tailbone as my lower belly draws in and up, and then I breathe expansive energy into my heart center. As my chest broadens, my shoulders drop down and back, softening as the palms of my hands face forward. Finally, I tuck my chin gently in and press up through the crown of my head, lengthening the back and sides of my neck and breathing sweet, fresh prana into all the space I’ve just created.
As my physical body aligns, I focus on the breath. If I’m feeling frustration over the slow pace of my day, I may do a few rounds of Nadhi Sodhana to relax and balance. More often, I time my inhales and exhales to match one of my favorite mantras, Om mani padme hum. I’ll silently chant the mantra one time on the inhale, retain my breath for the length of an Om, then silently chant the mantra two or three times for the exhale before suspending the breath for one more Om. This process leaves me feeling refreshed and calm by the time I get to the front of the line.
I’m happy to have these resources at my fingertips, because my to-do list has grown as I step into this wonderful role of managing a hotel and wellness space. There’s a small shop in town where most folks go to change money and pay their bills, and I accompanied the outgoing manager there on one of her last days in town. We went with the goal of paying the telephone, electric, and water bills, but the water bill was not ready yet. “Not to worry,” she assured me, “it’s sometimes late. Just be sure to come back next Monday and pay it.” I did return the following Monday and Tuesday and Wednesday, only to learn each time that the water bill was still not ready. My staff warned me that if the bill wasn’t paid on time, the water at the hotel would be shut off with no warning. As the 8th day of the month approached, they told me that this was the day for the water to be cut off, but strangely, there was still no bill! One of my employees called a friend of his who worked for the water company and asked him to please call us when the bill was ready. With this promise in hand, I stopped my daily trips to town in hopes of paying the bill. When a few more days passed and there was still no word from the company, I again visited town where I was pleased to find the bill on file. Phew, one item on my to-do list finally crossed off!
As the small things sort themselves out, I am able to focus more on the joy of building up the yoga program. This town seems to pulse with an energy all it’s own, and there are lots of yoga teachers living here or passing through who are interested in sharing their crafts. I am blessed to already be connecting with many of these teachers and to have a space to offer to host them. Each day I find a new energy and another warm heart and genuine smile as I plug in more to this amazing and vibrant community!