Diving with manta rays in Bali was an incredible and almost indescribable experience. When you go 15 meters (49 feet) under water, you’re in a whole different world. Everything moves so fast except for you.
The manta rays glide and fly through the water. They are both graceful and intimidating. At one point, I realized that I am now in their domain. I am the awkward fish floating in neoprene with breath so loud it’s all I can hear.
Actually, it’s a form of meditation. You can’t speak and so verbal communication becomes irrelevant. I became a silent observer listening to the sound of my breath and doing my best to be aware of every bit of my surroundings. In fact, it’s a lot like a yoga class, especially an ashtanga class where the ujjayi takes over and all you can do is go with the flow and ride the rocket.
I was down there for 45 minutes watching these creatures play, and only a small distance away dozens of manta babies were warming themselves in the underwater sand. It’s a side of life so special that I instantly felt a warming gratitude. I was in the Octupus’s garden in the sea, and this garden had beautiful manta rays.
Later that day I did a few drift dives which were not as majestic, but had a different kind of beauty – strong currents and millions of fish swarming around a beautiful coral reef.
Still I think one of the most striking moments of this day occurred while on the boat. I was looking at the horizon soaking in some afternoon sun, when something I’d been carrying with me just up and left. It was a sweet release that I was happy to experience, especially on such a wonderful day – or perhaps because of this wonderful day.
These moments are often unexplainable, and I never know when they’ll come, but in my experience, they are always beautiful. I decided to mark this as the moment I let go of whatever remaining tension I had about Nepal. I learned that it’s ok to have a good time, and that I can’t carry the pain of an entire country on my shoulders. It’s not possible or an efficient use of energy. Suffering in a beautiful place is not going to help Nepal or anyone else.
And I can still do my part to serve. I just have to be my authentic self. That’s exactly what I did when in Nepal. It’s what drove me to become a yoga teacher and why I left my home and many of my belongings. I’m on a mission, and my experiences in Nepal with the villages, and the monks, and the rolling landscape were a testament to the fact that I can do anything I want.
It’s an empowering feeling knowing that I have all the tools inside me to accomplish anything and everything. And the best part of this understanding is knowing that so do you. I know that you can do anything you want. Cut away all the fears and expectations, all the guilt, and anything else that you stick on you to hold you back, and just do. It’s that simple, and it’s also the hardest thing.
My teachers always told me that all I have to do is show up and breathe. And it’s dead true. It’s all you have to do 15 meters underwater, in a yoga class, at work, or even as a manta ray.
In this journey, I’ve met and reconnected with so many people who inspire me everyday. It’s everyone who shared my story, who donated to Nepal, who supported me when I was packing my possessions into boxes, who came to my yoga classes in SF,who did something out of love and compassion. It’s the Japanese monastery, The Church of Art and Science, Yes Helping Hands, and all the others I met along the way. The list goes on. I know that together we made something beautiful. And that you and I can do anything we want.
So I invite you to tell me what it is that you want. What is your goal? How can I help you achieve it?
I know at least one friend will say “a burrito.” 😉