Ahimsa and Travelling

My teacher had said a few times, if you ever want to test your yoga or your progress, go and spend a few weeks with your family and see how calm you are.

Well I did that during the first two weeks of my travels, I had my parents with me, the first week was challenging but by the second week we were in our flow, so it was ok, generally we are very supportive of each other though, so I’m lucky in that respect.

For me travelling from Koh Phangan to Bangkok was a real test for me. OK so I am travelling with more things than I can comfortably carry, so that one is on me! But let me break down the journey so you can clearly visualise the situation.

-2 big backpacks

-A handbag

-A medium sized dog crate

-A small toy poodle on a lead

-Boiling heat

Getting to the boat was fine, getting on the bus was surprisingly ok, I didn’t have to pay a bribe or deal with antagonistic behaviour – amazing. One of the bus workers broke the wheels off the bottom of the case, so it was no longer a rolling crate but something I had to carry and I still wasn’t fazed. I arrived at Surat Thani train station with a 18:35 ticket for a sleeper bed but was told the dog was not allowed on that carriage as he had to be in a fan carriage – ah I forgot that rule! So I swapped my ticket for a 3rd class seated bench ticket departing 3 hours after my original ticket – I’m still ok, this isn’t bothering me at all.

I boarded the train, with a lot of difficulty and A LOT of stares, i was the only foreigner on this train and I had more luggage than anyone else, plus this silly little dog, a guy from the army helped me load my bags on the overhead bars and the family of 3 sitting with me all fell asleep with their feet on my seat, reducing the space I had. Jake wouldn’t move from my lap, most likely due to fear, my seat was broken, so I was sitting on the bars of the bench , the lights didn’t get turned off throughout the night and at every stop traders would get on and try and sell everything from coffee, cakes, fried chicken and rice to soft drinks.  As I tossed and turned trying to get a comfortable position I realised that this whole journey was my choice.

It was MY choice to travel with a dog, it was my choice to pack as much as I did, it was my choice to downgrade my ticket so Jake could travel on my lap and it was my choice to do this alone. OK so it wasn’t easy but I found the joy in the journey, for every face that scrunched up in my direction, I replied with a smile, for every moment I was hot and uncomfortable I smiled to myself, for the ridiculousness of carrying nearly my body weight of things off the train, I smiled because these are my choices, these are the things I have chosen to do with my life and if I’m unhappy with my choices in life that’s almost the same as being unhappy with my life. What would be the point in being unhappy with your life if you are granted the freedom to make what ever decision you like?

I live in a world where my skin colour gives me privilege, I live in a country where my nationality grants me automatic entry into a job that I would be severely under qualified to do in my own country and get paid a high salary for the pleasure. I live a life where I am able to travel with my dog and have my friends come and visit me on a tropical island, I live my life according to my design and so I would be a fool not to enjoy the choices I am afforded to make.

Practicing ahimsa throughout the journey was a joy, I understood the part I play in every situation I encounter and more than ever it was clear that I could notice feelings of irritation or annoyance and smile at those sensations, knowing that they are not what define me and that they will not define my experience, that happiness is a mindset and not dependant on my circumstances. I can choose how to respond to every situation if my objective is to be happy.

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