This is a capstone about my 7 months in Senegal and the things I’m the most grateful for. For 7 days, starting today, I will post a reflection about something important for me from this experience. I hope you enjoy it.
As this is about my stay in Senegal, I decided to put first what I consider the greatest aspect of my year. Meditation, as the art of reconnecting with your non-self through non-thinking while concentrating on your breath, was a lifesaver in all the difficult moments during (and after) my time in Senegal, no exceptions.
Senegal made me feel lost, from head to toe. I often had the feeling I didn’t know who I was, where I was, nor where I should be moving from or towards. It was dreading, chaotic. I knew humans had a need for control in their lives, but I had never seen that so clear as when I felt absolutely out of control over what happened around and inside me. That’s what intense cultural immersion initially felt like. In such a foreign place, drowning in such foreign feelings, despair was the most frequent word in my writings. All attempts of finding some stability, some safe ground on which I could step to watch and try to understand my surroundings not only failed, but also heated up the chaos and lack of hope inside me.
Almost as a confirmation to a saying I immensely appreciate, that is “you have to pull the arrow backward before you shoot it,” I entered the most dreading and enlightening existential crisis of my life, not even a month in. Scared of my own perception of the world and guided by some of Osho’s teachings, I took the wisest decision one can take in times of desperation: I stopped. Ndank ndank (slowly, little by little) I concentrated on what I could perceive as real. My skin, my breath, the dirty floor I was sitting on. The walls, the ceiling, the people whose voices I could hear. My anxiety, my fear, and the fact that I needed to calm down and let go from all apprehensions, problems, stress, negativity… Reality was as real as it could be, and I didn’t need to understand it, nor give names to things, nor find logic where I couldn’t even find food. All that mattered was that I was there, breathing and existing as it had always been.
It may not be so easy to understand the importance of letting go, and I won’t try to explain what only reading and practice could teach me, but only the universe knows how grateful I am for being able to do so. Meditation was an important part of my year, and surely the one that has bettered my life there the most. It has also made me practice gratitude more frequently and consciously, and this is a reason why I decided to write these seven days of gratitude. Let it all go, see what stays.
“You only struggle because you’re ready to grow, but aren’t willing to let go.” – Drew Gerald