By Nicole Lonero
Studying Yoga and Ayurveda has taught me to appreciate and seek out balance in my life. The lessons I learn from these 5,000-year-old traditions often boil down to and point me in the direction of balance. They also remind me to look to nature – the rhythms, the laws, the chaos and the order. There are so many lessons to be found in nature and in us. In Yoga and Ayurveda there is no duality; we are each a unique expression of nature.
So now, when I am lost in doubt or uncertainty, I look to nature. And what I see are elements. Ayurveda examines the elements in nature and in ourselves to understand how our environments affect our individual constitutions and how we express the elements and qualities of nature internally and externally in our minds, in our emotions, in our thoughts, behaviors, actions and patterns. It’s all connected. Ayurveda helped me discover why, when living in Colorado, the cold, dry air aggravated my vata dosha to the point of imbalance. At the time, I was so clouded by my imbalance. I couldn’t see that I needed sunshine, warmth and nourishment in the form of cooked meals and grounding practices to find myself underneath the expression of my imbalance.
Recently, I was on a trip to the desert and wound up back home in the elevated mountains. I love traveling and I love being in new places. But now I love coming home because there I have finally found balance. The desert and the mountains were profoundly beautiful, but there is an energy in those elements that makes my heart pulse and stir. It can’t find its beat. It can’t settle into a rhythm. Those rough, dry, scrappy, powerful elements aggravate my vata. They make me feel uneasy. In Los Angeles, where I now live, I feel embraced in warmth, in abundant sunshine and in a sense of home. Under the palms, between the mountains above the Pacific and amongst the surge of creativity, I’m rooted in my own version of balance. The desert was vast and blanketed in indigo-hued sunsets, and the mountains were crisp and the forests full of mystery, but LA is home. And nothing can replace the feeling of home.
But part of me continues to poke doubt at the notion of home, stirring my vata thoughts into questions. Is LA too much of my comfort zone? After going to the desert and being so uncomfortable, I wondered if being coddled in the comfort of home is ideal for our personal growth, or if it inhibits it? Doesn’t all learning and growing happen outside the parameters of our comfort zones?
In Colorado, Wyoming, and in the jungles of Hawaii I lived in discomfort. I lived in it for so long it became bearable and that’s numbing in its own way. The shock of discomfort always wanes so why would I choose a bearable discomfort over the feeling of home?
Then I think about nature. I know that plants need nourishing soil to grow and animals return home to their nests. Animals and plants know how to make and keep a home. They depend on their homes to thrive. Eventually I will make a home out of my discomfort, so why not choose a home that gives me the greatest vibrancy and restoration? As long as I make a conscious choice to leave the nest every so often to awaken that jolt of discomfort so I can feel vulnerable, raw, alone and even afraid. As long as I know the difference between sitting in comfort or navigating blindly through discomfort and take responsibility to experience both daily -- I think that’s balance. I think that’s growth. I think that’s what people mean when they say they travel only because they can come home. If I stay in one for too long I get complacent. I get stuck. I start sitting on the edge of life too afraid to step forward in any direction. The price of admission to living your best life is courage. The prize is balance, within and without. From balance you can root, you can soar and you can be the best version of yourself.
In late 2015, Nicole worked at Durga Farms and lived at Hale Pule. Furthering her interest in Yoga and Ayurveda, she went on to complete her 200-hour Raja teacher training at Hale Pule in 2016.
She currently lives in Los Angeles and works in film and television, aspiring to write and produce. She also teaches private Yoga sessions and small group classes in LA. You can follow her on Instagram @nicolelonero or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.