Tomorrow is the last day of our second week of clinic. My experience living and working in Nepal has seemed slow to evolve, but I realize is actually evolving very quickly. Last week was extremely difficult. The weather here in Bhimphedi was hot and sticky, the clinic was brand new, I was seeing more patients in one day than I've seen in a week and on top of all of that, I ended the week feeling sick and exhausted. I know from past experiences with travel that this is normally the point when I have a breakthrough. I had to remind myself of that, since it has been 12 years since I have lived abroad for a period of time. I've always been the type of person who when the going gets tough and I become stressed, I find a way to absorb that stress and "toughen up" in order to get through it. Unfortunately, this is usually when I get sick. This is exactly where I found myself last weekend...sick, tired and uninspired. When I was asked to be the team leader of the Bhimphedi satellite clinic, I knew in my heart that I was up for the challenge. I didn't know at the time that that challenge would have very little to do with the logistics of leading 2 other practitioners and keeping an organized clinic. It's turning out to have everything to do with learning how to thrive and follow my heart in an otherwise stressful situation.
We all have coping mechanisms. Over the years I've become quite good at learning to exist in difficult environments and adjusting my body and mind so that each one was filed away into its predesignated spot in an attempt to keep my surrounding environment running smoothly. My heart didn't usually have much of a say. My surrounding environment was probably never as calm as I thought it was and I was certainly not in a state of inner calm. In recent years, as I've tried to incorporate my heart's desire into my coping mechanism, I often ended up appearing very vulnerable....a scary feeling for the girl from the east coast! But as I started to include my heart's needs into how I reacted, I started to feel a sense of freedom from this vulnerability. I feel as if the opportunity I'm being given as the team lead for the Bhimphedi clinic will expand my heart in a way that until now, I didn't truly realize needed to be expanded. Perhaps there is a way for me to exist, calmly and peacefully from the heart, within a stressful environment. Perhaps order and direction can co-exist, within myself, with a sense of vulnerability and an open heart. This is still a bit of a scary prospect for me and one that I will probably continue to stumble over many more times, but as I've begun to discover in recent years, it's also a freeing prospect. As I learn through Vipassana meditation, perhaps this is the key to responding rather than reacting. We respond with our hearts. We react with our minds.
When viewed from the mind, everything we do here on a daily basis seems to be a lot of work...from showering to using the toilet to communicating. But when I start to relax and look at what or who is right in front of me, I realize it's not so much work...it's life. And when it's smiling back at me, I can't help but soften and smile back. I think I'm starting to see the magic of Nepal. ---Patty McDuffey