So last night I heard a story that basically made this point that it can be easier to attain spiritual goals in a remote place (like the mountains) but how difficult it is to maintain that state once we return to the city and are faced with all the temptations of our worldly life.
similarly, just this past June I spent 3 weeks sleeping in a tent on the beach, in a yoga school, eating vegetarian food, almost no sugar (except on sunday’s when we’d get 2 hours to explore a small town I’d eat a cookie!) and no cigarettes, tea, caffeine. nor was there any sleeping in late or any difficulty in getting all the meditating & yoga one could possibly imagine done in a day.
yet once i returned to Karachi, my city, my home, and also perhaps my most challenging teacher, the old habits started to creep back in. I didn’t feel alienation like I did sleeping alone in a hotel in New York, nor did I feel “am i the only one who thinks about brown rice and brown bread?” when trying to find healthy eating options in airports across the world!
Instead, I felt so happy to be home, so connected to my sense of purpose and the desire to continue to live with my heart open. Yet, as the days creeped on, well maybe I should say hours, I started to feel the temptations and frustrations of city life. Stuck in traffic on a random evening I arrived home upset and angry about something – I can’t even remember what it was now. And there was my mom’s best friend over and smoking a cigarette.
What I would do to have one of those I thought! And then I thought of my teachers at Yandara, saying just sit with the craving, and know that it will go away in time. I tried. I survived for about 30 minutes before I said just give me one drag.
And as someone who has quit smoking so many times, I knew in that instant that one drag would mean i’m back to smoking.
Soon the one cup of tea a day started to turn into 2 and the 1 cigarette a day to 3. As the days have moved forward I started to eat meat again almost everyday. And the truth is that there is nothing really wrong with any of things that I’m talking about – its just that when I don’t do them I feel infinitely closer to my soul and to God. Not to mention I don’t get mad, sensitive or belligerent as often 🙂
So anyways, last night, at this meeting of kindred souls, I realized that this is the test that is the harder one to pass – to resist temptation in the city. I know when I leave Karachi and go to a remote place its actually really easy for me to not think about the cigarette even when I have them on me, and its easy to eat the delicious food someone is preparing for me that is healthy, as it is easy to be positive because all i’m doing are positive things:) It’s easy to avoid snacking on oily chips and chocolate in the middle of the night and to not give into my cravings – actually in Mexico it was funny I didn’t even crave anything until we went to town on Sundays and I would start thinking of that big chocolate chip cookie in the coffee shop!
So i know i’m human, I don’t need to be reminded of that wonderful yet challenging reality – but I also want to know can I do this? Can I spend a week (in a month that is meant to be among other things a time we learn how to give up) truly giving up all the things that I crave? I’m not sure – its the first night and i’m already feeling the urge to break a rule.
But putting this post out there makes me feel if nothing else I’ll be accountable to my virtual audience:) and one thing that I can’t do is lie – so if I don’t survive this week of no smokes, no chai, no chips and other junk (fried foods = PAKORAS) I will be truthful and kind to myself.
Wish me luck!!!!