In general, I think it is a good idea to go with the flow of Life. It is helpful to realize that when something is going differently than you had wanted or expected, there is usually a good reason for it. Especially when it comes to traveling, practicing the Nyama*: Ishvara Pranidhana (Surrender to God**) is the best thing you can do.
While still at home, getting organized for my trip to Bali where I was going to teach a yoga retreat, I suddenly felt the need to plan my whole trip. I had arranged my flight from Amsterdam to Denpasar (when I go to work I do actually buy a ticket – see my previous blog), and had booked the hotel where I always stay for the first two nights. Don’t get me wrong; I love to travel without being tied to a certain itinerary. I have travelled all over South America with a backpack and without a plan. I have been in Bali where I made some last minute plans (one of which actually resulted in meeting the man who is now my husband. Just saying!). I had the greatest time, and never did I not know where to go or what to do. Yet, this time my mind seemed to think that it would be more at ease when I didn’t need to think about accommodation once I were on Bali. Ah yes, the mind is silly. It is like a little child whining for an ice cream. Sometimes you just need to give it what it wants to make it go quiet.
So yes, I went online to make additional hotel reservations for the week after my retreat. The resort where I wanted to stay turned out to be full. I tried another one that came recommended by a friend. Also full. You’d think that I would take that as a sign, but my mind was stubborn. Maybe I was supposed to stay somewhere else! I did a Google search for places on the North shore of Bali. Nothing that I saw appealed to me. Finally, by way of a second hand recommendation, and reading reviews on Trip Advisor, I choose two places that would do it. The first one was reserved easily. Attempting to book the second hotel, however, should have let me to believe that I really oughtn’t make that reservation (especially since the super saver discount deal was to pre-pay the full amount….). Oh, the stubborn mind!
When I had entered all my information to secure my ocean view room, and hit the “pay” button, a pop-up window with “error” appeared on my screen. That happens sometimes, so undisturbed I tried it again. No luck. Still not convinced that there was maybe a reason why this was such a painstaking process, I called customer service to fix the problem. Apparently, management of this particular travel website thinks that only Americans like to book super saver discounted hotel rooms, because I couldn’t make the booking with my foreign credit card. “Their loss!”, I thought, and eventually booked the same room, for the same price, at their competitor’s website. Done deal, and my mind was happy. Then why did I have this gut feeling that I shouldn’t have made that reservation?
After an easy and uneventful flight from Amsterdam to Singapore, I was enjoying a movie on the second leg to Denpasar. So I wasn’t paying attention when the flight attendant put down my meal. When I was ready to eat, I noticed that the meal consisted of spaghetti and meatballs. Since I had ordered a gluten-free vegetarian meal, there must have been a mix up. Sure enough, the sticker on the wrapper said “CHML” instead of “GFML”. I decided to not make a big deal of it (hey, I do just go with the flow most of the times!), and asked to exchange my children’s meal with something else. As the kid whose meal I had in front of me was already eating mine, the flight attendant very apologetically came back with some rice and chicken. And a glass of champagne. See? Unplanned events do turn out into good ones!
As I was on Bali to work, I dutifully checked my email when I arrived at my hotel. An unfortunate message had found its way into my inbox: the yoga teacher who was supposed to teach a retreat the week after mine had had a stroke. As I know this teacher rather well, I felt upset with this news. I immediately offered my assistance in whatever way, although I didn’t really know how I could be of any help. Only later the thought crossed my mind that perhaps I could teach his retreat, but then thought of the trip I had booked for some relaxation after a week of teaching. I needed to get my priorities straight.
Two days later, while getting ready to teach my retreat, the manager of the resort called me and asked how serious I was about helping out. I had thought about the possibility of teaching a second yoga retreat in the meantime, so I could honestly answer that I was pretty serious. That same afternoon it was a done deal: I would stay another week to teach the next retreat as well. A win-win arrangement for all involved!
I hear you think: “What about that pre-arranged relaxing trip that you had booked”? Well, luckily I could cancel the first reservation. The pre-paid one required some emails and phone calls. Yet, given the circumstances the hotel was willing to give me a credit for two nights. I am fortunate enough to know that I will be back in Bali in September…
Now what is the point of writing all this? Everything turned out fine, didn’t it? Yes, it did indeed. However, it did create uneasy sensations in my abdomen, when I was not listening to my gut feeling. Doesn’t it give an overall sense of ease, when you can trust that everything is always the way it is supposed to be? I really could have just listened to that inner voice that kept telling me there was no reason to get so fixated on pre-arranging my whole trip, and to take it as a sign when it seemed so difficult to book it. Life just had another, even better, plan in mind!
One night, during the first retreat, my point was illustrated very literally. After dinner, I intended to go down the steep stairs lined with jungle-type greenery, to sit at the terrace above the pool. I was carefully finding my way on the slippery steps when I stopped dead: below me was a bright green snake on the path. While proud that I wasn’t freaking out (see my blog about snakes of a few years ago), I also didn’t dare to go past the snake. Even more so, it seemed that Life was giving me a message: sometimes it gets in your way because you ought to go in a different direction. I turned around and went back upstairs.
When I surrender to the flow of Life, my path is full of surprises. The more I trust, the more unexpected fortune comes my way. Most often in the form of something my mind had not been able to consider. When I’m lucky I get what my mind wants, when I am really lucky I get something even better. And you don’t have to go travelling to experience this. Life knows where to find you!
* Nyama refers to the second step on Patanjali’s Eight Limb Path, meaning “observance”.
** Or: Universe, Life, Love, whatever resonates with you.
Yours truly doesn’t have a problem with going with the flow when she can chill on a sun bed with a view at the Indian Ocean…