I’ve been here on this three square kilometer dot in the Caribbean Sea for almost 7 months now. I’ve been guilty of posting lots of pictures of palm trees and puppies, but I’d like to go a little bit deeper into the important lessons I’ve learned since I threw on my backpack, hopped on a plane (and another very, very tiny plane, and a little wooden boat) and landed here.
These three lessons are things I've (been forced to) do, and now I wouldn't have it any other way.
- Release Expectations
- Slow Down
- Go With The Flow
These three themes are concepts I come back to in my yoga teaching time and time again and that’s because THEY ARE MY WORK. I like to share what resonates with me, and something I strive for as a yoga teacher is to teach by example, and live by the message I’m trying to put out there. These three pieces of advice; I’ve struggled with them. I may need constant reminders to come back to these concepts, but hey, at least I’m learning, thats all we can really do! Yes, being here threw me into this work face forward, but I was ready, and now I truly believe in it.
#1. Release Expectations
Before I decided to make my move to Nicaragua, I didn't know anything about Little Corn Island. Nope - not even that it existed! I did my research, but how could I possibly imagine what it would be like to live in the middle of the Caribbean Sea on a tiny spec of sand? I gave up my busy lifestyle for something more spacious and slow, I traded in high heels for (ok - just sayin') no shoes, and I stopped my constant planning (see; WORRYING) about the future. The key here was having a clean slate. Before I got on the panga to take me across the choppy sea, a reminder that we are only in control of ourselves, I ALWAYS had expectations, about EVERYTHING and EVERYBODY…and I was usually disappointed. Placing a heavy load of expectation or judgement on anyone or anything is a recipe for resentment, disappointment and feeling like “it’s never good enough”. I didn’t have any expectations because I couldn’t, but it taught me that the potential this outlook can give us is limitless. I came here, was in awe of the beauty, impressed by the kindness of strangers, able to deepen my yoga practice and teachings and I have yet to feel let down. What else can we apply this to? Relationships, jobs, family... I'm not saying to have no goals or be reckless, I'm just asking that we loosen the reigns a little bit? Where can we let go of those expectations that are no longer serving us? Then we can let something sweeter and brighter flood in, we can enjoy the moment more and be present with what is actually happening right now; not the story attached to it, not the "shoulds", or the "have tos". Let's move from a place of joy and freedom instead. <3
2. Slow Down
In a yoga training I attended, we had to do an exercise about intuition with someone we didn't know. We sat across from each other, eyes closed, and had to say whatever came to mind about this person. I never had spoken to her before and the whole idea of this seemed ridiculous and quite honestly made me uncomfortable (more on that in another post). A moment of silence, and then the first thing she said was "you rush." Um, wow. My first first reaction was to deny it (I was in a restorative yoga teacher training after all), but then I realized how true it was, and for me to be giving off that vibe to someone I've never even met was a red flag. Before coming out to this little paradise, I did everything fast, I spoke fast, rushed from place to place, sped through projects, I even practiced and taught yoga quickly. This usually resulted in me having to backtrack and fix the base of my building before refining details, making work harder for myself. I knew I should slow down, but I figured I'd take a break when I had crossed everything off my 'to do' list. I'd rest when there was nothing left to do, well guess what : It's never gonna happen. Welp, ISLAND TIME is a real thing. I came here and had no choice but to slow it down. Now I eat more slowly, enjoy my food and better digestion, I take in my surroundings, I unitask instead of doing 45 things at once, and I have better connections with the people around me. Yeah, sometimes I have to wait a bit longer for my morning coffee, but I get a chance to take a few deep breaths and soak in my experience. I get to lay in a hammock and close my eyes for a few moments. Yep, even when I have things to do. The things will get done, it's okay if it's not all at once. I learned that the world will not end if I wait a day to answer an email. If a whole day seems crazy, what about an hour? There is beauty in stillness and space. Give yourself permission to enjoy the things you do and do them well, be patient and allow things to work on their own time. After all, time is our most valuable resource. Let's not waste it by trying to fill every second. How you spend it is up to you, making the most of your moments may mean doing less. <3
3. Go With The Flow
The first advice I had about coming to Little Corn was "You'll learn to go with the flow, you won't have any other choice". I learned this on my first tumultuous, panga ride from Big Corn to Little Corn, with enormous waves and a very small boat. Food and goods only come by boat once a week, there are giant spiders the size of my face and most days now, I trudge through mud and rain to work. There are more serious issues too; poverty on the island, sick stray dogs and cats and lack of reliable health care. Going with the flow means to be what's needed in the moment, to be adaptable and shape shift a little to be of service to yourself and to others. I learned to do something about the situations I can help, and to accept the rest at face value. I haven't always been a "go with the flow" type of girl, even though I desperately wanted to be, and even more so wanted people to think I was. Inside I would be screaming, but I got pretty good at seeming cool and collected on the outside, until I wasn't anymore. I got to a point back home where my stress was palpable and I couldn't hide it. It turns out, you can put on whatever face you want, but going with the flow cannot be faked for long and it needs to be summoned from within. Living in paradise is amazing, but...wherever you go there you are... Usually, 'how we do anything is how we do everything." If we can learn to respond skillfully rather than have a giant reaction when a conflict or challenge arises, we're going to be able to roll with the punches much more easily. Here on the island, if the wind is above 20 knots, we can't run the boats to and from Big Corn to transport people back to mainland Nicaragua, the waves are too high and it's dangerous. This is a stressor for many travelers, but as we know, we can't control the weather. Sometimes the water ripples and sometimes it roars. These waves in life come from the outside, it's up to us to develop a deep inner strength so we can ride them without getting knocked down - sand in our swimsuits and scraped up by rocks, or worse, drowned by them. For me, it's been all trust; trust in myself to make the right decisions and follow through, trust that opportunities will present themselves, trust that I am strong enough to handle whatever situation comes my way. Trust IS strength, so trust yourself, get on your yoga mat, take a deep breath, grab your surfboard and ride the wave.