I landed in Mumbai and switched on my phone. Ding, ding, ding. It worked. Text messages came through and the internet connected just fine. Relief. The next day I flew to my final destination of Coimbatore to make my way to the Isha Yoga Center. I turned on the phone once again. The dreaded words 'no service'. Oh no.
I arrived at Isha and continued to check my phone's connection. There were a few service bars, but no 3G to access the functions of the iPhone. I sent text messages to family to let them know I arrived.
Nothing came back. I sent more. Nothing. I went into worse case scenario mode and convinced myself that something happened and no one wanted to tell me. This is an old pattern of mine coming to life.
An Active Imagination
My imagination's story is making me anxious. To top it off, I feel like a fish out of water. The journey took almost 40 hours, the heat is different from the blizzard I just left, I don't know anyone, I don't know the rules, and I cannot get my feet on the ground.
Everyone at home is doing just fine and living their life. Here I am, caught in between. Not there and not yet here. My only security blanket is my phone to connect with people back home. Clearly they already forgot me.
Instead of waiting for a response, I instantly make an expensive phone call. Everyone is fine and I can breathe again. Now I am forced to look at this whole scenario and my attachment to a telephone. It is a way to feel worthy and connected to the world. It is also a way to confirm that the stories in my head are not true.
It is all an illusion. I don't need to post my pictures on Facebook or to update my status. I don't have to check my email ten times a day. I don't need to see what is happening 10,000 miles away. All I need is to be here, be in India, and be with whatever is happening around me.
A few days go by and I find solace that I can rent the computer in the office. 30 cents for 30 minutes - a perfect way for me to escape from not dealing with my feelings of being alone and out of place. India takes time to settle into. This is my second trip so I kind of know what is going on. I visit three times a day and the people at the desk already know me.
On my third day, I visit my security blanket to find out that the internet connection is down. I desperately ask, "NO, when is it going to work again?" The woman replies, "Later on, come back." I'm annoyed. I had to send an email and I wanted to make an update to my return ticket home, plus so many other things on the to-do list that I created. I decide to go for a walk.
I walked to the cow barn and spent some time with my favorite animals. I smiled and laughed. Then I went to sit in meditation in the Dhyanalinga. This space was created by Isha's founder, Sadhguru, and is an energized space where anyone can sit and become meditative. It is an amazing structure that one has to experience to fully grasp. It was so peaceful and I felt very connected to the energy of the space. Nothing else mattered.
Eyes opened. I head back to the office 'later on' and of course they tell me, "Later on, come back." I go back and it still is not working. Now it is very clear and I am totally aware of compulsive behavior number one.
By connecting, I feel in control that I know what is happening back home. By doing research on return plane tickets, I can keep busy. Sitting in the dark office is a way for me to avoid sitting with myself.
The Phone Loses Power
I said to myself, "But I flew 10,000 miles to meditate and do yoga. Why am I avoiding this?" Because, it is not easy. Especially in the ashram where the energy is on full speed ahead. When you close your eyes, your world is not the same. Deep rooted emotions, repeating patterns, compulsive tendencies come to life with the added benefit of being aware of everything.
As time went on my visits to the office computer became less and less. My obsession with getting my iPhone to work with 3G fizzled away. I became more connected to my yoga practices, to taking walks, to chatting with friends, and to simply noticing the beautiful nature that surrounded me. I felt free. It was liberating to not feel the need to have my phone with me. A whole new world opened up since my eyes were looking around and not down.
These days we need to be connected and we need phones. But we have to know that there is a difference between using something and letting something use you. I learned this from Sadhguru - "The things you buy are using you up, enslaving the human being. Whatever you want to use, you can use, don't let these things use you. Understand the limited role that everything has in your life. Know where one thing begins and where it ends."
Is your phone using you? How many times a day do you mindlessly check your phone or browse through Facebook? If you have never been without your phone, give it a try for a couple of hours a day. Next time you meet some friends or family members for dinner, leave your phone at home. Break free from the ball and chain. Fully engage with your life and the life of those around you. Not with your phone's 'life.'
Note- Originally published on the Huffington Post on April 8, 2017