Cat From The Mat

The Overwhelming, Ever Changing, and Circuitous Path

I recently experienced Iceland…the land of Vikings, indescribable terrains marked by geological activity, and a unique home of Norse origin.  En route back from my European yoga tour, I stopped off in Reykjavik (which in Icelandic means “smoky bay”) to meet up with my husband for an anniversary trip. Off on an adventure we went in our rental car, with local krona currency, an ice-chest, and an exploring appetite.  Together we have driven through majestic mountain ranges of the US, played on hills of gypsum, and have traversed fresh lava fields.  However, nothing quite compares to the exceptional environs of Iceland! 

Overwhelming destinations: I had one of those speechless moments when I saw the gargantuan glacier the feeds into the Glacial Lagoon in the southeast region of the country.  From the highway, the frozen flow of water was colossal and awe-inspiring, which only enlarged as we approached the enormity of the tip of the iceberg.  Its immense presence made my eyes jump out of their sockets, adding to my gaping maw.  

My response reminded me of how often I can feel overwhelmed.  Some challenges in life may seem insurmountable at times.  It’s easy to become paralyzed, not knowing how to move forward.  Yet, small, tangible steps bring me closer to my destination without focusing on the final goal.  As I approached the glacier and took my first stride upon the delicate, breakable ice, I tread lightly.  An environment like this commands respect.  How insignificant we are in contrast to the big wide world in which we live!  And yet, the steps we often take are huge…to us.

Ever-changing typography: Our daily itinerary took us through diverse territory, from green-covered volcanic moonscapes, to exploding geysers and steaming hot springs, to productive farmland and windy sandstorms at the beach.  The sheep population has learned to live in both lush and barren land, finding food in all situations.  The quest for the yogin is to also find the nourishment in every encounter, whether palatable or not.  Resiliency is not only the key to survive, but it’s an important tool to evolve as beings.  Being adaptable to what is around you requires an abundant perspective and luckily lots of opportunities to practice.

Circuitous routes: One local suggested we hike up the mountains to find a gem of a hot springs river.  We set off for what we thought would be an easy jaunt.  However, with the short daylight hours and confusion of where the path originated, we started our trek later than expected.  As we began our ascent, we noticed fellow hikers descending, looking refreshed from a hike and soak.  Each person indicated that we were not too far away from our destination.  But every time we turned a corner revealing river steam ahead, the path would then lead us further away from our intended target.  The lesson seemed painfully obvious…that just because the path seems to be taking you in the complete opposite direction of your trajectory, doesn’t mean that you are not staying the course.  After about two hours, we finally made it to the river frustrated and exhausted, but happy to finally jump into the hot bathing river, even if only for a quick well-earned dip.

 The return down the mountain went much quicker.  We had no flashlights and had to hurry before the sun set.  In Iceland, outside of the major towns, there are no highway lights to guide the way.  This can be disconcerting when trying to find your destination in the dark.  But this blackness is what allows for the colorful Aurora Borealis (The Northern Lights) to be seen.  

Yoga teaches us to generate luminosity to see amidst the dimness within and without.  It’s an ongoing cultivation of awareness.  When you always know the way, you are less inclined to open to the unknown.  As you approach the winter solstice on Dec 21st, the longest night of the year, you are invited to generate more inner brightness, to match the holiday lights wrapped around the trees, houses, and store fronts.  If Icelanders can find cheer amidst long winter nights, lava-field sheep can find feast over famine, then I encourage you to find levity along your path in life.  It may be overwhelming, ever changing, and circuitous, but the trail is unmarked, unspoiled, and unbelievable!


Happy Holidays!


Cat From The Mat

December 2013