I’ve never had much trouble dreaming big. I can’t say for sure that I always knew exactly what I wanted to do but I’ve never had a doubt I’d do it. I’ve always known it was just a matter of time before another amazing thing happened. Traveling around the world teaching yoga was assuredly never something I planned or dreamed of doing. It just happened. Maybe there was a time a few years ago when I crossed my fingers to go to a training somewhere lovely like Mexico. But never could I imagine I’d be teaching yoga, training teachers and becoming part of new families and communities in Italy.
Maybe it’s waking up to a set table and cappuccino. Or maybe it’s walking the beautiful cobblestone streets through narrow tunnels and past villas to the yoga studio. It could be the greeting and parting kisses and strings of ciao-ciao-ciaos from every new friend you make. Perhaps it’s teaching yoga to eager, receptive Italian students who don’t seem to care at all that you don’t speak their language because that’s how much they already love you and yoga. It surely could be the evening dinners around a simple wooden table, sharing space with children, grown-ups, grandparents and friends, where peals of laughter on the heels of deep conversation come as easily as breathing.
Which I hadn’t really done in a very long time when I first arrived in Italy.
Breathing, that is.
No matter what it is there in that magical town, it’s life-changing. The first time I visited, I was only in Lake Como, Italy, with Christiane Piano and her delightful family for about 12 hours when I knew I had, well, come home. This was not just a vacation or a teaching trip; it was the first chapter of my new life, where I could re-discover myself as human, woman, teacher and global contributor, starting with simple conversations next to a lemon tree on the veranda. I had to learn to connect with people again. I had forgotten how to do it.
The years before I stepped off the plane in Milan into this new life were challenging at best. Needed as they were in my spiritual and emotional evolution, I let survival patterns reign and forgot how to simply enjoy small things and connect with people. Suddenly I found myself remembering what real food tasted like. I got to meet people who knew absolutely nothing of my past few years and had no more advice to give me other than whether to walk around the lake or take a boat across. In my teaching, I finally understood the beauty of simplicity; I could not trail off on long rants about anatomy or energetic awakening. “Right foot forward” was the extent of my delivery, and it felt like a liberation. I didn’t have to be clever or wise. I didn’t have to be the leader or the owner. I just got to be me.
One day a few years ago at a training, Christiane and I sat across from each other, knee to knee. I knew her. But I hadn’t really gotten to know her. We laugh (sort of) at this now, but back then, my walls were thick and high and I readily admitted that I really didn’t want to get close to anyone. Here we were though, looking at each other. Then we had to put our hands on each other’s hearts. Yes, I know, I realize that this is what everyone thinks we do all the time at yoga trainings. Well, assumption confirmed. I looked at her with my hand on her heart and hers on mine, and knew she was my life-long friend. I was in her home with her family only a few months later.
I’ve been to Breathe Como three times in the last year, supporting, training, teaching and contributing. I’ve watched it grow exponentially, which is remarkable in a European country with all of the different factors they deal with in their own unique yoga industry. After this last trip, Christiane asked me to write a testimonial about my time with them. I could have written about how awesome it is. And it is. But there is more to it than that. For me, it was a remembering.
In the book, Conversations With God, Neale Donald Walsch says this. Well, wait – God is actually saying this through him. Either way, here is what they say:
“Your job on Earth, therefore, is not to learn (because you already know) but to re-member Who You Are. And to re-member who everyone else is. That is why a big part of your job is to remind others (that is to re-mind them), so that they can re-member also.”
Spending time in Italy teaching yoga is a remembering. I go there, and I remember who I am and what my purpose is. I see and meet new people and swear I’ve known them before. Somehow, I am remembering them in the reaches of my soul. I remember to laugh, taste, rest, walk, teach, smile and ponder. Being away helps me remember how much I miss and love people at home, and makes me want even more to have meaningful, committed relationships with them. I even remember that I may forget, and derail off into thoughts of fear and the numbing routines of my life; which helps me cultivate awareness and compassion for myself and everyone around me.
Because we will all forget. Sometimes more often than others.
But for me now, when that happens, I order a cappuccino or I play an Italian piano solo. Or I start kissing all of the people in my life on both cheeks multiple times and greet them with dramatic hand gestures.
And then it all comes back.
Ciao, ciao ciao.