A hard surfaceWhen you arrive in Guatemala, the airport reminds me of the opening scene of "Love Actually" only everyone is barricaded outside and people are dressed in a mixture of dontaed clothing and traditional shirts and wear. People will speak Spanish with you but talk amongst themselves in their native tongue. This makes it difficult to barter at the markets. You will have an opportunity to ride with almost anyone. You can stand on the road and flag a car, bus, van and they will accommodate you. A great way to travel - and slightly dangerous due to vehicle conditions, road conditions or drive condition - is by notorious chicken buses which are auctioned school buses retired from the U.S. which are now spray-prainted, named and usually have some religious memoriablia. Good to pick a well decorated bus as they tend to be cleaner and work well. I always try to carry and extra orange with me for arrival, the peels make for a nice smell amongst less appealing public transports.
I have been coming to Guatemala since 2007. I have seen a lot of changes and none at all. A few times I have traveled a lot of the country but mostly I head to Lake Atitlan. Sometimes I do this trip three times per year. It's always different. The lake sits at about 14,000 feet above sea level and from my location, overlooks a trinity of volcanos and hundreds of small pueblos. These indigenous towns are progressive with apothecaries, women cooperatives, natural fabrics and dyes, trade centers, recycling initiatives all amongst traditional mayan peoples.
Traditional Mayan culture includes specific ways of living to honoring the quality of the day and within each individual to the vibrancy of music and immersing in the heart of your surroundings. This is something I have resonated with in growing up near a large fresh water lake near the northern passes of the Green Mountains. It was not only through the connection with nature - that a walk in the woods, sleeping under the stars, waiting out weather or plowing through it that most problems and energetic stagnancy could be moved, alerted or learned about in true nature - but my connection with my family, ancestors and history of a people. I was raised intuitive - operating on confirmed thoughts, experiences, feelings, sensations as well as logic and reasoning. I was allowed to explore which lead me to my love of the breath, the energy within and the ability to mental mastery and manipulation of energy. In childhood journals, I reference inventing and chakras without growing up in a yogic household. I can really identify with the line, yoga found me. I would go further to say that life found me as well.
The struggles of life are always in existence. It is said that how we handle them is a great first process to changing perception. Even, at times, getting a bill in the mail is a reminder that you are in fact alive! That's amazing! This aspect of you, full of harmony and vibration, from a single-cell and before you had a heart, head or hands, decided to duplicate its own perfection and continued this process until your birth and it still continues.
We could get into real questions: Why is it that your brain and heart stop you from experience this basic energetic living harmony? Why do I not feel or recognize this within myself? We could also go on the fact that here you are! You have arrived. How can you at this moment be actually present to a point of feeling complete!? I say this with great care on your personal development rather in yoga or shamanism as within in both of these frames of existence, exists life, hardship, joy and a desire to be full.
I tend to talk in a long arching circle that eventually lands where we begin. Here we are in Guatemala, getting ready for the sixth year of the advanced teacher training program. We will practice in a variety of ways for 12 plus hours per day. We will explore the world - land and spirituality - here and sit in a charged space. What do you need to bring? How do you prepare? Bring yourself and let harmony come to you once again.