A Day at the Beach

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My favorite thing to do lately is take long walks on the beach.  It’s temporada baja, or low season right now, and the normally uncrowded beaches are virtually deserted in some areas.  As I walk, there is endless ocean on one side, unspoiled sand in front of me, and a jungle lush enough that I can forget about the road on the other side.  Sometimes the jungle pushes right up to the ocean and I move to a cool path that follows the beach.  This allows for more interaction with the wildlife, like the other day when I paused to watch a Capuchin monkey enjoying the delights of a pecan tree.

I’ve completed my Pipa fast and have been drinking the concoctions from the doctor to help kill the parasites I picked up on my journey.  I remember sitting in horror in my first week in Nicaragua as two yoga teachers discussed natural cures for parasites.  Getting or having to cure parasites was never something I’d considered prior to leaving the US, but it’s simply part of life south of the border.  Many locals go to la farmacia every three months to buy the pill that will kill parasites.  The thing with a pastilla, or pill, is that it’s all kind of chemical and comes with it’s own list of side effects.  I feel blessed to have landed in a place with a natural health doctor who can give me a plant-based effective cure for these little buggies.  Even more amazing is that I’ve come to like the bitter concoction of wormwood and black walnut (with a touch of honey) that is part of my cure!  When the water is boiled with the powders, it comes out looking like coffee, and it’s just as comforting to start my day with and to drink in the evening.  In fact, I’m sipping on some now as I type.

The Pipa fast was wonderful.  I broke the fast a day earlier than recommended because I was feeling very weak, but I still believe that I gained many benefits.  Even though I was low on energy from my illness, my body otherwise felt wonderful.  Inflammation that was so present I wasn’t even aware of went away while I was fasting.  The coconut water provided so many vitamins and minerals that I did not feel hunger while I fasted.  The challenge in not eating was then only in my mind.  When I did begin to re-introduce food to the clean slate of my body, I was able to clearly see the effects of different food choices.  I felt so good that I plan to do another pipa fast very soon.  Right now, however, my focus is on regaining the weight that I lost so I can fit into my clothes again.

As I find healing in my physical body, the universe continues to provide opportunities to find healing in my emotional body.  I wrote earlier that I’ve been doing some shadow work, or learning to accept and embrace the more difficult aspects of myself.  This work is not easy, and I often find myself caught up in the story when a particularly strong emotion moves through me like a wave.  The challenge is sitting with the emotion, or the story attached to it, and allowing it to move through without affecting my inner stillness.  I can’t say I’m always successful, but I’ve lately been gifted with a scenario that is allowing me opportunities to practice.

Rather than fall into my pattern of attempting to escape my emotion by controlling my environment or trying to control the people in it, I am owning my discomfort and working to respond from a place of grace.   Again, I’m not successful every time, but it appears that I will have many opportunities to practice.  For this I feel gratitude.  I am grateful that I have recognized the available lesson in a difficult situation and that I can practice what I have studied for many years.

One practice that I’ve found helpful on this journey is Pema Chodrin’s Tonglen Practice.  Tonglen, like shadow work, is an embracing of our unwanted emotions and feelings.  Rather than use the more classic technique of exhaling an emotion that is uncomfortable, Pema teaches us to inhale that emotion.  As we inhale discomfort, we remind ourselves of the many people the world over who are currently or ever have experienced the same discomfort.  In this way, we make it not all about us.  As we exhale, we exhale the antidote for the discomfort.  For example, a feeling of anger might be traced to a deep seated fear, and the antidote to that fear may be compassion or loving kindness.  So on each in-breath, we take in as much of the unwanted feeling as we can as we compassionately relate to other people also struggling with these feelings, and on each out breath, we send the energy of compassion or loving kindness shining out to those people in the same struggle.

Each moment provides it’s own opportunity for rising to a higher level of consciousness.  Every interaction has an opportunity for grace.  I continue my practice of yoga on and off the mat.  Om shanti, shanti, shanti – deep peace.

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6 responses »

  1. I really like the concept of Tonglen Practice! For a good while I have felt uncomfortable with exhaling negative emotion, as it seemed to me better to exhale something Good into the world…and in group meditations there was a sense of inhaling all of the negativity everyone just exhaled…but the idea of allowing the negative emotion to be drawn in and used as a vehicle for cultivating compassion is precisely the twist I had been unable to see. Thank you so much for sharing!

  2. I love imagining you walking the beach somewhere and drinking your parasite remedies. Even more than that, i appreciate what you have shared about your practice and the work you are doing to heal, accept and embrace the difficult aspects of yourself. THis takes patience and courage. Finally, I have to say that the Tonglen practice is freakin’ hard and very powerful. I read about it in one of Pema Chodron’s books– the one about fear, I guess, and this idea that what is inside of me is so vast and huge and that I can hold the things that are difficult and painful inside of me like taking a drop of rain into the ocean… without being taken over…man, that is so beautiful and so hopeful. And it speaks to the incredible capacity within us to experience compassion and connection to others even when it is painful. Thanks for your post. good one.

    • Thanks, Amanda! I’ve been enjoying your blog too. I appreciate hearing your Tonglen experience. It’s not an easy practice, but wow! It is effective!

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