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The traveller without a luggage

The traveller without a luggage

By Idan Meir, Tuesday, 8.2.2022

About 20 years ago, as a theatre student, there was a partic­u­lar play that I loved explor­ing. I even got a schol­ar­ship for direct­ing part of it. „The traveller without a luggage“ by Jean Anouilh, or in French, „Le Voyageur sans bagage“ was fasci­nat­ing me, and today I realised why.

Since my youth, I remem­ber how freedom was essen­tial for me. Running long distances gave me a sense of freedom of movement and a quiet mind, and surfing was an enormous joy of being in nature where life demands are not relevant, and think­ing slows down.

Anouil­h’s play tells a story of a veteran of World War I who suffers from amnesia and trying to regain his memory. When he discov­ers his former cruel past as a young man who used to kill animals for sport, pushed his best friend down a flight of stairs, broke his back, and other terri­ble things he did to his family, he decides to turn his back to his violent identity and face a new way. At the end of the play, he steps towards an unknown future with a myste­ri­ous young boy that lost his parents in a boat accident as an infant.

When there is no past, the future seems better.

The young boy’s charac­ter repre­sents naivety, innocence, and hope for healing for the future. Anouil­h’s play is about the freedom to let go of the past and renav­i­gate your future. Many of us are easily caught by past stories, small and big, challeng­ing our well being when they appear mainly as emotion­ally charged thoughts. And the question is, how can we step out of the habit­ual mind and find freedom from past stories?

Who would I be without my past?

Most people tend to hold on to their stories and define themselves by them. It is not easy to let those go. Who would I be without what my parents did to me, or my ex-wife, or my best friend, or life, or myself? Without my achieve­ments, degrees, failures, or success, who would I be?

A short-acting exercise.

Imagine you are now playing the main charac­ter of Anouil­h’s play, and you don’t remem­ber your past anymore. How does it feel to have no history? How does it meet your body right now? When I asked the actor who played Gaston (the main charac­ter in Anouil­h’s play), his answer was light, very easy unrooted float­ing in the space. And he took this light­ness into his charac­ter artwork.

It might be a relief, a sense of freedom to have no past for some, but it can be terri­fy­ing for others. As you read these words, are you think­ing of your history right now? Proba­bly no. Does it make you feel less?

You don’t need to let go of your past completely, but it’s good to notice when your part doesn’t let you go completely.

When we are embod­ied, we are present.

We have no past and future when we dance or practise yoga poses. Sometimes we don’t even remem­ber our names, which is not relevant in spiri­tual practice. We are just there. I can find myself dancing around the room or practis­ing headstands, and think­ing about things to be done. In those situa­tions, I have enough space inside to realise that these thoughts are not so impor­tant right now. Then I choose to bring my atten­tion back to the body. Embod­i­ment practice can direct you to the present moment, where past and future subsides for a little while.

The soul flour­ishes in the present.

The mind floats between past and future while the soul flour­ishes in the present moment. Our most profound expres­sion, the soul, loves the present moment, the only place it shows up. We cannot touch our souls deeply when we overthink and plan. We are also in touch with our soul through pain. When past pain arises, we can connect to our soul as we feel the pain in the present moment if we embrace it and allow ourselves to feel it without adding any stories or comments. Of course, many people make fantas­tic art from their pain and challeng­ing life experi­ences. Still, those master­pieces’ magical process of creativ­ity is performed or observed only in the present moment.

The sweet spot

When I practice a yoga pose and find this moment where I am fully present in the body, it feels like I want to stay there forever. It feels like a sweet pull towards something good, like the same sensa­tion you have just before falling asleep or when you look at a baby falling asleep, you know they are going towards a good place.

This experi­ence may sometimes arrive on the dance floor, often towards the end of a session. After some release of the body and ease of mind, some tender­ness comes, and the level of sweet­ness rises. After years of teach­ing conscious dance, I notice the goodness in the air at the end of a session. Even when we dance online, people become so kind, tender and sweet to each other. And that is the most profound meaning of our practice, to come to this point of pure conscious­ness where the heart is open and love flour­ishes. There is no judge­ment of any kind, just the pure essence of being with other beings.

How can I apply this in my routine?

It’s nice to experi­ence this sweet­ness when you practice, especially in a group, but how you keep it in your routine is the million euro/dollar question. Eckhart Tolle speaks about alert­ness. The moment you realise that you are triggered by anything, past thoughts of regret or shame, or pride, or future worries, that is the place where the chance of awaken­ing hides.

How do I do it?

It is the same as on the dance floor or during medita­tion or any embod­i­ment practice. Feel your body, feel your feet, notice your breath. When I breathe with aware­ness, I open a space where the mind can trans­form into a new dimen­sion. When I listen intensely to the sounds around me, the silence between sounds, words or noise, I am more present. I AM MORE PRESENT when I open my eyes and observe the objects around me, their shapes, their colours, and appre­ci­ate their unique­ness. Then, I try to bring my atten­tion to the fact that I am aware, present and conscious of conscious­ness, which brings me back to the sweet spot.

More than running a marathon or surfing a nice swell, the moment I am aware that I am triggered by past or future stories and awakened back to the present moment, I can experi­ence freedom more profoundly. Like a traveller without luggage, I walk in light­ness and ease, naively and innocently, to the unknown and unexist­ing future.

1099 954 Idan Meir