My entire time in India, I was with other people.
I went with a group of 10 westerners. For 7 days we stayed at an ashram, a spiritual community. Every morning we did yoga. Every day we piled into a 6 seat taxi to serve at the Bhatti Mines school. Every night we went to markets, schools and temples. And the whole trip, at every meal, we ate together.
Cut to America one week later.
I have my own room, my own car and the freedom to do anything I want. And I realized I have used that freedom to do things that isolate and separate. It struck me buying groceries. Walking through the store with a whole cart of food for one person. A whole week of meals that I was about to eat by myself. How did this happen?
I used to believe I needed to isolate myself. The world felt invasive. I needed more time to process and integrate. India was good medicine for this. In India the smells, sights and sounds are everywhere, all the time. What helped the most was allowing time for solitude. Time to go within, reflect and come to realizations about what was happening. Every morning we practiced yoga, and, to me, it was the most essential part of the trip. If there is an opposite of isolation, it would be engagement and presence. Which is exactly what i mean when I say "practicing yoga."
Now, there is another kind of yoga to practice. To find the engagement in presence in my relationships at home. To find connection, community and service. While still finding solitude, reflection and integration. This trip showed me that it is not only possible, but essential.