“Meditate. For four days,” she said. “Facing the sun, collect the positive energy of it within you.”
That was two days ago, nestled in the mountains of northern Colombia. Rosa, the indigenous woman wrapped in white, said it as coolness touched my skin, as a sweet smell radiated off the medicinal leafs she had boiled and blanketed over me, and as clouds covered the heat of the South American sun.
So at three in the afternoon I leave the comfort of the air-conditioned cafe, and I step out into the blistering heat, toward the busy street. The aroma of sweet cakes and fresh brewed coffee replaced by wafts of cigarettes and the nearby seafood store.
I find a small space tucked away from the main path and a wicker chair to support the next hour of focus and peace. I push play on the binaural beats queued in my headphones and settle in.
Within minutes, beads of sweat appeared on my arms and shins. The tops of my feet burning from the small square of light radiating from above. My fuchsia dress, selected that morning in anticipation of the growing heat, clung to my body.
The bus drivers greeted their friends with short, staccato honks. The motorbikes roared and whizzed past, and bicycle bells alerted pedestrians of their presence. The waves and rhythms in my ears – drowned out by the life happening around me.
My gaze lifted, slowly noticing the way the couples held each other as they walked across the street. Kindly observing the older woman who gently cleaned the street on her way to the recycling bin after finishing her lunch. The children as they came from school and merrily walked home. The puppy, who took himself for an afternoon stroll.
As I waited for the delicate chime of the timer, I observed the energy of the people on their way to somewhere else. I sat and I waited and I closed my eyes again. The heat overpowering my ability to focus, I turned inward.
I reminded my body of the cold days back home that made me wish for a heat like this. I reminded myself that it wouldn’t last long – and a cool breeze echo’d that thought.
I reminded my body of the hours of yoga spent dripping in sweat, and how that too, had ended. I reminded it of the strength, the flexibility it possessed and the changes it had endured. From hiking to incredible views, to swimming in the ocean, to jumping out of planes and running for miles.
I reminded it of the endless concerts and nights dancing, and of all the hard things that I never thought I’d accomplish.
I reminded my body that to love this life, you have to go through the unpleasant moments to get to those so much sweeter.
I reminded myself that you have to hear the noise to appreciate the quiet.
And after an hour, the gentle chime interrupted my focus. I slowly rose and walked back into the air-conditioned cafe, and I got a cold water and a piece of cake.
How sweet it was.