In spite of all the chaos of the city you reside, you find these little gems, serene paradises that bring peace and harmony to your soul. You feel at home, connected to yourself and all that is surrounding you. The disconnection you feel towards the city just disappears and you no longer want to run away and live in small village out in the nature. You are happy just the way you are.
For me, in this city that I live in, being on the Bosporus awakens that feeling within me. I forget all that is disturbing me about this city and just melt in the amazing view of the two continents stretching out in front of me.
Years ago, when I first moved back to Turkey from LA, I was not able to adapt to this city. My heart and soul was in LA, and honestly I couldn’t understand what the big fuss about this city was that people were talking about. I never was a fan of Istanbul. So, the following 6 months have passed in haze, trying to fit in, find a haven within my heart to make this city my home. Then, at that New Years, a very dear friend from LA came to visit us in Istanbul. And it was when I got the opportunity to see this city through his perception; I started to see the hidden beauties people were marveling about. I remember it like yesterday. We were passing through the bridge from European side to the Anatolian side for the New Year’s party. For me, it was a daily routine. I never for once stopped to think about this passage and what it was representing. And I suddenly saw his expression change; his enthusiasm was pouring out from him and capturing me. He turned to me with shiny blue eyes and said “This is the first time I am pressing my foot onto Asia.” Yes… that route that we regularly took without much consideration actually was one of world’s exceptional, unique routes. A city connecting two continents, a land that hosted many civilizations, a fertile land our ancestors have travelled to and settled down and made our home… and at that moment, when I glanced at the city, passing from the bridge, through his eyes, his vision, my understanding of the whole city has transformed.
That is the day I made a promise to myself to always LOOK with my eyes and SEE with my heart, not with my mind. To be open and perceptive.
So, whenever this city suffocates me, I get on a boat and try to look at it from his perspective, and once again be grateful for all the beauty that it offers.
All these thoughts have rushed back into me while I was sitting at Yo Café waiting for my Wednesday class to begin at Cihangir Yoga. This yoga studio in Istinye was also one of my escape routes in the city. Located in an open air shopping arcade in İstinye (which is very exceptional for Istanbul I must add. We are surrounded with so many shopping malls that little village centers almost seize to exist), whenever I arrive here, although physically I am still in Istanbul, my soul feels light and airy as if I am back in LA. Although it is located in the middle of the city, it has this suburban texture; time slows down, sounds disappear, even the grey dirty air of the city melts away… and I find myself in a dreamland. Every soul I encounter here greet each other with a huge sincere smile, they too are appreciative of this special place providing us a home to meet ourselves again and again.
May we always have these places that shed a light on our days, leaving us peaceful and at home… Places of gratitude where we get to see the God within us and carry that knowledge in our daily routine lives.