When we first started talking about Vietnam, I knew it meant heat. Yet I still couldn’t have prepared myself for what it is like to live in Central Vietnam in the summer time – the hardest part for me to believe is that it’s going to get even hotter. It’s been 95-100o all week. The humidity hasn’t been as high as usual, yet sweating is a constant bodily function now. What happens is that the only time the community is really outside is before the sun rises and after the sun goes down. That looks like staying inside all day, and with only a bedroom that is air conditioned, it means being in a very hot house with fans and/or sitting in your bedroom all day. Then, there are electrical outages (some planned and some not) that will randomly happen such that you can’t run your fans or AC units.
The first few weeks of this have been so tough. On top of already feeling emotionally heavy and sad about missing my family, I’m also trying desperately to cope with the reality of my external environment. What does it look like to create new rhythms in this kind of heat? How do I deal with my mental and emotional reactions to my body’s ongoing discomfort with the heat? Also, my skin seems to get inflamed and react in very challenging ways to this heat and humidity.
I will return to the US for a few months in exactly 8 weeks. Rather than wishing that time away, and simply trying to survive each day until I reach the end of the 56 days remaining, how could I instead create the space to thrive? Even writing that possibility out now feels completely unattainable. But I will sit with this today. And really dive into and explore what I’ve learned and practiced in yoga – the ability to refine our awareness such that I can live into the truth that my True Nature, my Diving Being is not defined by my body, thoughts or emotions – those are just ever-changing states – they are simply different sensations. I find that the interaction between my body and mind leaves me longing for reprieve, desperate to change the physicality of being so hot.
A few weeks have now passed – there are 43 days remaining. I can truly say I have felt a sense of thriving. There have been an overwhelming amount of things contributing to that. First is my routine of getting up on weekday mornings at 4:40am to enjoy a jog along the beach before the sun rises – I experience the magic of watching the sun rise as I flow from my jog to a leisurely walk along the river across from my home. I bear witness to a very active local community, all of whom also are enjoying the coolness of the morning. I have had a daily gratitude practice that helps me pay attention to all the goodness in my life – getting up early gives me plenty of space for all my spiritual practices. I’ve been consciously seeking connection with family which is easier now that I have nearly four hours of time to myself before work begins.
Since returning from my trip home, I’ve had the tremendous gift of training a group of local yoga teachers/students who want to be volunteers in the community – they have been a source of inspiration and connection – they have given me the chance to reconnect to my true passion for yoga, those parts that are deep. The parts that involve interior transformation leading to fulfillment of authentic service and love in the world.
I have had more quality time with my partner. Because of the extreme discomfort of the daytime heat, we’ve been enjoying more meals at home together. We’ve been following the Vietnamese tradition of taking naps after lunch. On weekends, we visit a nearby pool to relax, study Vietnamese, and occasionally take a refreshing dip.
It has been an encouragement to see our work truly come to life in ways that are having such a meaningful impact in the community. This week we visited both of our Swim for Life pools. Knowing we are training over 600 children in just the summer session is unbelievable (last year we had a total of 450 for four sessions). Wow! The teachers and students are finding their groove in a way that is seemingly mutually gratifying.
And friends, always friends. It has been a joy to discover that we can still host BBQ’s and have a fantastic time even in the summer. This season brings easy access to Bia Hoi (a cold keg of fresh beer); equipped with our Bia Hoi glasses from Hanoi, we thoroughly enjoyed hosting 20 friends last weekend. There is also the happiness and connection that comesfrom spending quality time with friends who have left, and come back. I have enjoyed James so much, and spent the day with him and his best friend as we navigated activities in spite of the weather. Nothing better than those electric bikes!
My heart is overflowing with gratitude. I am in awe of how much setting an intention truly manifests a completely different outcome. What are you currently facing that feels totally unmanageable? What circumstances feel like they are doomed to bring you total misery and discomfort? How might your see you physical, mental and emotional reactions as no more than changing states of being? What new possibilities exist for you inside that awareness? I’m sending out so much love and compassion to us all. Thank you for being on this journey with me.