When I can’t sleep, I will take an Ambien to help me relax and fall asleep. However, I have done a lot of crazy things after taking Ambien. I have woken up to find that I have had long conversations that I simply don’t remember. I have found wrappers from snacks that I really don’t remember eating. Once, I wrote a press release and sent it out to a news wire service. But I’m pretty sure that nothing can top my most recent Ambien-related activity: booking myself (and paying for) an entire vacation.
From what I can piece together, I must have decided that I needed to relax. Otherwise, I have no other way to explain the fact that I am currently on an ashram in the middle of nowhere in Northern California.
That’s right: me. Me, who doesn’t like yoga. Who doesn’t have enough focus to meditate. Who doesn’t really like new people and doesn’t like trying new foods. Me: who gets hysterical when my phone doesn’t work for a few minutes. Me: who checks the internet every five minutes. Me: who makes fun of people who use yoga terms in conversation.
So how to explain that I’m currently on a farm, doing yoga and meditating all day long? I have been here for four days: hanging out with new people, eating confusing new vegan food. I have zero cell service and very, very spotty internet. This place is actually called “expanding light.” And today, I had an hour-long discussion with a woman about where my moons and planets are currently located.
When I try to piece together how I got here, I am aware of several things. This week is “fall break” for my three children. This is the first time in my life that I am not with my kids during any sort of a school vacation. They are with their dad this week. And leading up to this week, that fact was making me very sad.
This past year has brought me a roller coaster of emotions. I moved homes, changed jobs, watched a friend pass away and then give my very first eulogy, went to funerals for children who were much too young to die, and I observed the world become an incredibly negative, violent, and downright scary place.
So when I woke up one morning to see that I had booked myself a flight to a place I had never been to a place that I have never heard of anyone going to: I figured-what have I got to lose? I am fully aware that at this point in the story, most people would have just canceled the whole thing. But, I’m nothing if not adventurous. I am, after all, the “mom on tour.” So, I figured I should live up to my name.
This past Sunday morning, I took a 2 hour flight to Sacramento. As I waited for the ashram van to pick me up, I texted a few friends and family to tell them that I was possibly about to be joining a cult. I spotted a woman at the airport who appeared to have wandered out of “The Handmaid’s Tale,” and so I worried that I was about to become someone’s surrogate.
Nonetheless, when that van arrived, I popped on in. I took a 90 minute ride through hills and canyons with a woman who definitely didn’t get my sense of humor at all. We made a quick stop along the way at a food co-op that featured the cast of “Hair. ” And then finally, I arrived at my vacation destination.
When I checked in, no one put a white hood over my head, and no one asked me to join a cult. Instead, they led me to my room, which was actually a small cabin. I was a bit alarmed when I saw the mezuzah on my door, especially since none of the other cabins had them. I decided they must somehow know I’m a Jew. Did they research me? Did I check a box on the registration form?
With paranoia flowing over me, I got into my little bed, surrounded by books written in Hebrew and pictures of the Wailing Wall, and I went to sleep.
Over the next few days, I learned all about the proper ways to relax. The people who taught me were so… calm and content. They told me about spirits and gurus and levels of consciousness and how to correctly breathe. I tried foods I would never have ordered off a menu, and spent hours talking to people from all over the world. We talked about internal strife, and conflict in the world, and peace and love and blah blah blah. But you know what? According to one of the people here, my “energy has shifted to a more positive place since I first arrived.” And I have to agree.
Why? Because I have learned something very important.
What I have learned sounds like something that I would have absolutely laughed at last week, but today makes perfect sense. Here it is: the only thing that we can control in this world is the way we feel. We can’t control other people’s ignorance or selfishness. We can’t control all of the madness around us. We can only control how we react to it all.
And just like that, everything has come into focus for me. I have spent hours obsessing over the Las Vegas shooter, trying to figure out what outside source must have caused him to commit such a heinous crime. Could it possibly be that there’s no one and nothing to blame, except for this guy? Could all of this anger and hatred come from the one place that no one could have predicted? Is the entire key to life finding out how to deal with the emotions and feelings that we have coming from deep within our souls?
Is the reason that I am here not because I took an Ambien? Instead, could I be here because my spirit guide wanted me to be here? Have I not blogged in so many months because my creative chakra was blocked by negative energy? Is everything in life pre-determined and the only way we screw things up is by letting our egos override our true destiny? Did I know I liked curry so much?
All this, and I get to wear yoga pants and sweats all day long! No one cares about my appearance (which is ironic, as I am probably the only person ever to have gotten their hair blown out before going to an ashram.) But I swear, I am suddenly much calmer.
The true test will be how much of this I will retain once I return home. But as I sit here tonight, in my little Jewish cabin, I do very much believe in the power of inner peace and tranquility. I do believe that there is some other force out there helping me make the right decisions, and that that force is not a prescription sleeping pill.
I have also decided that it doesn’t matter why I ended up in the Jewish cabin. Maybe it’s a sign that although I don’t have a specific god or guru that I worship, I can still believe in a higher power.
So I come home tomorrow: to phone messages and texts and unlimited access to the bad news of the world. The people here told me to spread the white light from my internal organs to all the people of the world, so I hope this blog is doing the job. They also told me to keep everyone laughing because my moon is currently in the seventh house and Jupiter is aligning with Mars.
But if peace can guide the planets, then love will steer the stars. Or something like that.
Breathe, relax and laugh. Take care of yourself.
Namaste for now.