During my recent trip in Europe I took a break from Global Yogi to be able to have some time and space to reflect on its present and future directions, and at the same time to reflect on my own personal present and future directions.
But essentially, my primary motivation for this adventure was to see my ex, and hopefully find some resolution to all the very complicated emotions I had been experiencing for the past year and a half since we separated after a short but intense relationship.
I was on a path to unravel the Samskaras that had so firmly and so deeply imprinted themselves on my brain since the breakup, but, I suspected that the roots of these imprints went back far beyond this one most recent and dramatic encounter with love, sex and intimacy.
Yoga teaches us to slowly recognize the patterns in our bodies, and in our minds and emotions, that shape the experiences we have in the world as humans. And it is through recognition of these patterns that we can then slowly transcend them, to grow into expanded versions of ourselves, shedding old patterns like a snake sheds its skin.
Samsara translates as the cycle of birth, life, death, and reincarnation, which brings suffering if perceived through a limited view – the lense through which most of us experience the world. And that lense is our patterns, our Samskaras.
So, my trip in Europe was essentially an investigation into my relationship Samskaras, particularly in the field of intimate relationships.
This kind of investigation is easier to do when travelling, away from home, as you are temporarily free from the physical and emotional structures which define your identity in your home – like your house, your possessions, your friends and your family. You are in a sphere where all that you have you carry with you, whether that is your clothes, or your emotions, your pain, your drama and your Samskaras.
Though my ex had said to me when he broke up with me on email, that he would ‘of course, be very happy to see me’, everything that had transpired in our Internet communications since hinted that this was not the whole truth and nothing but the truth. When I contacted him from Sydney to arrange a meeting he was less than enthusiastic to say the least.
What to do?
I did something I never thought I would ever do, and booked a ticket from Paris to go and see him, planning to just turn up as a … surprise. But I was not sure that this was the wisest course of action.
My two friends in Paris had arranged a welcome dinner for me in a small restaurant in the lively Pigalle neighbourhood, so I took the opportunity to put the question to them, and to the husband of one. My Australian friend thought that I should go. ‘After all’, she said – ‘you haven’t been to Poland, so why not, you will see a new place, and Krackow is beautiful!’ My other friend who is Parisian, was not quite so enthusiastic. She looked at me with a wise and enigmatic gaze and said, ‘you know, Michelle, these things are, … complicated.’ So French. Yes, to say the least. The husband of my Australian friend said, ‘you know, as a man’ (and a Frenchman, like my ex), ‘I would advise you at least to tell him first’, he said with a concerned look (I wondered if he was wondering if all Australian women are this crazy). ‘It is better that he is prepared.’
So I considered it for a few days. And then I sent him an email to say I was coming. And the days passed. And I got no reply.
I had hit the wall that I had hit already so many times with this man. The great wall of silence. The great wall of non-communication. The great wall of ‘I will not tell you how I feel about this. And in fact, I will not tell you anything at all.’
And so it came to the day before I was due to leave, and I logged onto the airline website, and paid some extra money to change my flight to go to Spain instead. I thought that might be the end of it. I even hoped it would be. But it was not. Two weeks later he replied to my email and wondered why I had not come? ‘La, tu as compliqué la vie’ he said. You complicate life. Hmmm.
The weeks passed in Paris and I got to know another Frenchman, who told me on the first night out with him that he suffered from bipolar disorder, and was currently in a manic phase. He was talking a million miles an hour, telling me about all manner of fantastical things.
And the next day he came to do yoga with me.
He told me he’d taken sick leave from his job as he hadn’t slept for days, and he needed help. This is a situation where someone else, who is not me, might recognize all of these warning signs and help him with yoga and leave it at that. But I am (at least – I was), not that woman. He started to send me dozens of texts every day, and instead of being concerned for him, I was intrigued.
So when he left Paris a week later and invited me to visit him in his native Basque country, where he was now doing yoga…with his mother, someone else, who is not me, might have declined.
I was intrigued … and I booked my TGV ticket to go the next day.
After picking me up at the railway station, in an agitated state, he dropped me at the apartment I had rented on Airbnb. And this was one of the last times I saw him alone. The next morning, he arrived at my apartment to give me a short tour of his town – with his mother. And from then on, with the exception of one beautiful mother-free afternoon, she was the driver and chaperone of our sortees. And most of those sortees were to the beach, to surf. The first time, his mother dropped us off there, but the second time, she was in for the long haul. She came with her hat, suncream, a stack of books and spread out her beach towel next to us.
And I ran into the sea, as fast as I could, without putting on my flippers.
When I was about 100 metres out to sea, I realized why my friend had insisted I wear the flippers on the other days.
I looked over at the huge waves crashing on either side of me, and I felt a strong current whirling all around me, pulling me out to sea. I tried to swim back towards the shore but got nowhere. I realized I was in trouble and started to panic. I felt a strong sickening feeling of horror in my stomach. I called out to my friend, who was on the beach, miles away, with his mother, totally oblivious to my situation. I panicked more, and had a very strong feeling that I did not wish to end my days on this particular day, at this particular beach, in the French Basque country. And so I screamed as loud as I possibly could and waved my arms around, and after a minute or so, some of the surfers about 30 metres away heard me, and came to my rescue. To me they looked like angels, and were, in that moment.
So it had come to this.
A near death situation in the ocean, in a place where I knew nobody except for the oblivious dominant submissive Basque mother son team on the beach. And I am a Piscean, very fond of water, and oceans, and a strong swimmer who grew up body surfing in huge waves in Australia who has never before felt so frightened in the sea.
But I got the message.
Thank you universe. I know I am stubborn and that you had to play this card for me to finally see this pattern, so, though it freaked me out, I understand it was the only way.
Some patterns are so deep that this is what it takes for us to see them.
This was just a more extreme version of what I had lived through in various long and short relationships many times over. I am especially attracted to unavailable men. I give my love to them and I get nothing back. And all I feel is pain.
But when we finally do start to recognize them, then slowly the Samskara for that particular pattern can start to dissolve, leaving you free to choose a new path in life. Free to expand into a new version of yourself, which is my case, is as a woman who chooses intimate relationships with men who are whole and emotionally available, and wanting to give love as well as receive. I hand in my role as Florence Nightingale, healer of the broken-hearted, carer for wounded and conflicted souls, and sponge for soaking up all the pains of the damaged men of the world.
Have you recognized any deeply ingrained Samskaras recently? I would love to hear about them in the comments.