It has been two months since my last blog post; in that time I have been very actively engaged in our work here in Dong Hoi. Much of the planning and designing has reached the stage of implementation. Our swimming pools are opening, we trained all of our swim instructors, we hired a new Program Officer here in Dong Hoi, and we’ve put together schedules for our swim classes. The pilot program for Mindfulness Yoga for Empowerment has just wrapped up its first phase, the first draft of our training manual is complete, fundraising is underway, a group of local yoga teachers and students have organized themselves to participate in Mindfulness Yoga and then take it into the community as volunteers, and plans to take yoga into the districts of our Province are in motion and scheduled for June and July. Additionally, we are actively involved in creating and training for a first-ever career education course at Quang Binh University. The planning process is complete, and we are half-way through the training, with a set of career guides translated into Vietnamese and compiled into a packet for the 20 instructors in training.
Phew! Amidst all of that, conversations about our staying here in Dong Hoi a 2nd year have not only begun, but are getting more specific and serious. We have been asked by of our partners, our colleagues, and our friends to stay another year. While that feels very flattering and affirming, I also felt some uncertainty rise up within me. While I have said all along that I am open to nearly any option that reveals itself after this first year, I could feel within me that something was hesitating. I set out to see what this lack of clarity was about. I sought to talk it out with my partner, to journal about it, to hold it in meditation, and to discuss it with a few trusted friends.
What finally revealed itself is that although there have been so many wonderful happenings and learnings in the last 6 and ½ months of being in Vietnam, my way of being and living simply isn’t sustainable for another year. I recognized the need to spend more time with this new awareness. So today I took a mini silent retreat in my “yoga sanctuary” on the 3rd floor of our home. It was a small slice of heaven. I felt like I had come home to myself and had a small reenactment of some of my most cherished moments in retreating in the context of Ignatian Spirituality. I was moved to choose the book on discernment given to me by an incredible group of women from SU with whom I’d journeyed into this experience. I happened into the “Blessing for Beth” they gave to me on that special send-off night in the summer of last year at Jen’s home. It brought tears to my eyes – particularly the piece about coming into a new stillness. I knew in that moment that this is truly what has been missing. In my efforts to be open, accepting, loving, receptive, and giving, I had inadvertently come to believe that this time for reflection and discernment could wait until after my year in Vietnam.
One of the most significant exercises I engaged with this morning, is one I’ve often used with students and clients over the years – it was an inventory to help discern whether the energy one is expending is fulfilling or depleting. It felt so, so good to see where my energy was being sucked dry – and furthermore to see how much of that is truly about the people and the activities, versus the way in which I am showing up for it, and the stories I believe about each area of my life. I was also able to see the things that truly bring me energy – that fill up my tank. This is priceless information – it is data I can use right now to inform even the last 3.5 months I have left in my first year here.
Have I had any big insights into the question of whether I/we are called to be in Dong Hoi a second year? Not exactly, but what I have discerned in the meantime will surly lead me to more clarity, and in the process give me more space for peace, connection and strength. I’m incredibly grateful for the people, frameworks, teachings and experiences I’ve had over these past years. While being in a new context has given me a chance to toss them up in the air in a spirit of newness and openness, it is deeply significant to see which practices emerge as essential during this time. So I ask you – is there anything you are discerning in your life right now? Do you have clarity on where your energy is being directed? Perhaps taking some time to reflect on how your energy is being channeled is just what you need to see your truth for this moment. We are all together on this path, and as always, I’d love to hear from you.