I have been back in Tokyo now for a few weeks after spending nearly 2 months in Mysore. Ever since my first trip to India in 1995, I have always experienced challenges readjusting to "normal" life back home. Day to day life in Mysore, which is built around practice and rest, is much more conducive to a yogic life. By this I mean that it is a way of living that leads more to inner peace, to a more naturally contemplative and reflective life.
Those of you who live or have lived in a large urban center (Tokyo is comprised of 30 square miles and has a population of 33 million people!) know that the opposite is true about life in the city. The energy alone is intense and frenetic. Radio waves, electronic pollution and psychic pollution are rampant. Then there is the bombardment of sensual distractions (signs, lights, advertising of every kind, sounds, noise, smells).
One's attention is continually being drawn out. Body and mind are continually being stimulated to the point of overload and overwhelm. Even when I stay at home, I can still feel the chaotic energy of the city invading my system. Not only do I find resting and sleeping more difficult, but the quality of practice seems to suffer as well. In general, the mind is more active and the attention is more distracted.
What to do?
What I have learned over the years is to adjust my mindset when making the transition between life in Mysore and life back home. The mind's natural tendency is to compare two different environments and to judge one against the other. This kind of prejudice can cause all kinds of suffering. It is important to realize that each environment is unique and should not be compared with another. It is true that Mysore (and India in general) is much more conducive to the yogic life. It is also important to realize that every challenge offers an opportunity for a different kind of merit. Yoga is the path of purification and awareness. When we are confronted by the challenges of urban life, we all have the chance to see ourselves more fully, to become more aware of our own limited mental and emotional constructs. As much as possible, if you bring any degree of awareness and acceptance (truly there is no real awareness without acceptance) to those moments when we are entangled in our own limitations and judgments, we have the opportunity for merit, purification and freedom. Granted, this is easier said than done. I myself have struggled with this very practice hundreds of times. Still, if we are persistent and if we consistently remember the spaciousness of our true Selves, we can gain tremendous strength and wisdom over time.
So, when I find myself struggling or suffering in any way with my life in the city, I gently remind myself to be as present as possible. I remember that I am doing an entirely different kind of work/practice than when I was in Mysore with my beloved Guruji. It makes all the difference in the world.