As a few of you know, I was in Italy on an Art & Asana Yoga Retreat a few weeks ago. My pleasure that has come from that trip has been the open space in my mind that it has provided me.
I can't remember the last time I slowed down that much in my life. In fact, I don't think I ever have. Sure, there were plenty of Sunday mornings in my twenties where I slowed down, but this was different.
My friend asked me what I wanted out of this trip. I told her I wanted to better sequence my yoga classes. My goal was to read as much as I could on sequencing from my yoga resource books, and spend all my free time nailing sequences for my classes. I was actually looking forward to getting away so I could plan what I was going to do when I got back. I originally had about 12 hardcover books I was going to bring in my carry on. (I'll take, Who Doesn't Travel Often for $1,000, Alex!)
She looked at me and, to mince words, said, "you need to do better than that." She was right. But I didn't know what I wanted; I had had no time to think about it, to process the journey I was about to embark on. I felt like my life had gotten so busy and so rushed ... so go go go ... that I wasn't really processing anything anymore. Sure, I laughed, I joked, I was having fun and present (for the most part?), to the person I was talking with, but if I got mad or upset or even experienced joy, I didn't get to really feel it, know what I mean? I just would recognize the feeling, then quickly stuff it down inside to be felt later, so I could continue to run around to the next place or the next thing. (I would never remember to feel it later, either.) So when I left for Italy, all I knew was that I wanted to practice yoga, take pictures, and create art, like the description on the website said. Oh, and sequence all those classes with the free time I was going to have. Never did I think I would get as much as I did out of it. After all, when you've never taken a vacation by yourself in your life, you just don't realize how busy you are until you are forced to stop.
When we introduced ourselves to the group I was with, we were asked what we wanted out of this retreat. 'Hitting the reset button' was offered as an example, and, because it's a challenge for me to think quickly when posed with thought-provoking questions, I liked how that sounded and went with that. I was told by a few people to remember that this trip was about ME. And that I deserved to go. To remember to do what *I* wanted to do when on this retreat. To do what felt right to ME. That it was ok if I felt like doing nothing, or felt like not doing something I had originally signed up for. Maybe it was the amount of people that reiterated this to me, or how sincere everyone sounded when they said it, but it was a thought that kept bubbling up with me through the whole trip. Although, at first, I needed to let go of the piece of me that wanted to just go back home to what felt normal. When I first got to my room, and finally let all of the emotions I had been stuffing down while traveling come up, everything hit me that I wasn't just a hop, skip and a jump away from my family. I was an ocean away, and THAT scared me.
It took a few days to get into this groove of not having to be anywhere, or race against the clock. It was almost as if my brain couldn't compute going from being so busy to being so … still. With that stillness came a lot of realizations with myself. Some are still bubbling up to the surface. Some I don't think have made it up yet, and yet some others have bubbled to the surface and pop into these realizations when I'm in the middle of something. I didn't realize a retreat could bring up so much in a person.
With the myriad of things I took away from my trip, the most important ones are slowing down, remaining patient and not stressed (every day is a new day, right B?), and staying present in the moment. Even as I have transitioned back into reality, I'm still keeping those core ones at the forefront of my mind. It made me realize how scattered I was before I left. How I can tell there are some of my friends that could really, really use a retreat right now themselves, and if they could drop everything and go, I'd be the person to encourage them to do so. How it really isn't that great to multi-task, and instead of sending that email as soon as I think of it, a quick note to do so later, followed by putting down my phone to be present for my kids is more important. Or, instead of spending my Saturday evening writing my blog post, I opted to keep my computer off and watch a movie with my hubby.
We seem to forget that we are just ONE person. We operate best when concentrating on the moment that is right in front of us. The task right in front of us. Not the other five things that are competing for our attention. Just one thing at a time. One breath at a time. One foot in front of the other. One phone call at a time. One person at a time. One day at a time. Inhale, exhale, repeat.
Love, Happiness & Coffee,
~ Heather ~