Swimming In The Wrong Direction

There’s the most beautiful lake right outside the ashram here. You walk down a steep set of steps encased by tropical trees before meeting the opening at the water’s edge and gliding in to swim. I’ve never known such a warm body of natural water. The sun heats it up all day and floating on its surface grants an unparalleled sense of peace. With the Agastaya mountains climbing into the distance, resting here is like resting in a divine heart as your worries melt away.

Everyday, we swim across the lake and back on our break between classes. The swamis warned us that there might be crocodiles, but the locals swim here and no one has seen one since a lady’s arm was compromised doing her washing before sunrise 20 years ago. Nonetheless, I like to swim fast. On the first day, I put my head down, scrunched my eyes tight and didn’t look up for about 100 metres. When I stopped to assess my position, I realised I had somehow ended up swimming completely the wrong way. There’s a gentle current that pushes in from your right hand side, so if you don’t know it’s there you get pushed down towards the bottom of the lake.

I was with a group of friends who were gently making their way across the lake and were somewhat bemused to see me swimming off course. When I bobbed my head back up they asked where on earth I was going. I protested that there was a current, but they laughed and said I was crazy. I kept swimming but every time I looked up again, I found myself disorientated. So I made a conscious effort to keep my head above water and be more mindful of where I was heading.

It’s a bit like that with life sometimes. We find ourselves racing off into the distance, but somewhere along the way the current pushes us off course. If we don’t know it’s there, we might get carried away and end up somewhere we don’t want to be (perhaps with the crocodiles!). But if we look up and take stock of how we got to where we are and understand where the current is coming from, we can get back on track.

At this point, keep your eye on where you want to go, feel into the resistance and work with it. There’s always going to be a current, but if you can understand its force, you can muster the power to overcome it with your own strength and make it to the other side.

So here are some questions to consider if you’ve found yourself swimming in the wrong direction:

  • Where are you now?
  • What current(s) brought you here?
  • Where are you heading?
  • Which currents do you need to work with to arrive at your destination?

I hope this helps in some way my fellow wanderer. May God bless your journey.

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