This weekend was the weekend of my yogi retreat for my yoga teacher training. In this post I want to share some of the amazing experiences and lessons that were gifted to me over the last few days.
I learned that when we share our stories with one another everything else slips away, becomes white noise. We all have an inherent ability to captivate others with our own vulnerability and authenticity. When we are fully present with others we give them the opportunity to validate our experiences and to accept us for who we really are; we show them it is okay to be our perfectly, imperfect selves. We give them space to be their authentic selves with us. When we are true to ourselves, we are powerful like water. Water is soft, malleable, adaptable but fierce enough to carve through mountains.
There is a reason the water beckons to us. We are born of water, belong to water. We are water. Adaptable and fierce. There was a lot of adapting this weekend. Friday, before I left for the retreat, my credit card information was stolen and hundreds of dollars were spent before it was detected. I was told 5 to 7 business days before I had access to my account again. All I could think was, “how am I going to survive without money for 5 to 7 business days and what if I don’t get all my money back.” I could have let myself keep going in that place for hours but I made a choice not to stay there, not to ruminate. I chose to adapt.
I was driving out to the location for my yoga teacher training, yoga retreat (which admittedly I was feeling too depressed to go to, but I chose opposite action) and I passed through this adorable little town. It had these beautiful old Victorian buildings. One of them had been turned into a Central Perk (hello, nostalgia).
There was a quaint “gently used bookstore.” It made me think, maybe I could be happy in the future being a therapist for a cozy town like that. Not in Texas but somewhere intimate. Taking the time to be in the present led me to the future because I am future oriented but it improved my mood. It made me thankful for quaint Texas towns. It made me realize that even though there were things in my life that sucked, not everything had to be terrible. I realized things aren’t so black and white. The gray area is where beauty and pain can co-exist. The gray area is the birthplace of wisdom. This weekend was filled with shades of gray.
Once we all arrived at the house. It turned out that the AC was on the fritz in the house where we were supposed to stay. We all woke up super early in the morning burning up. The temperature in the house got up to 90 degrees.
So, at 5:30 in the morning all of us were on our phones, iPads, computers looking for someplace else to stay. There weren’t any “good options” so our instructor remained open to possibility.
We managed to get the AC guy out to the house, while everyone was at a local studio practicing. The studio was kind enough to let us stay there for several hours after class so we had a nice, air conditioned place to practice and learn.
The hope was that when we got back to the house the AC would be fixed; however, life rarely follows the path of hopes. The temperature reached 84 degrees and plateaued. It wouldn’t get any cooler. This actually ended up being a blessing in disguise. The guy who was letting us use his vacation house had a family member with a vacation house only 12 miles away and he happened to be willing to accommodate us. So, we caravanned it to this other house not having any idea what to expect. When we got there it exceeded expectations.
The house was this beautiful two-story lake house. We were right on the water which added power to everything else we did for the retreat. We practiced yin on the upstairs porch that night. We basked in the moonlight. We practiced sun salutations under a giant tree, facing the lake the next morning.
We meditated to the sounds of waves crashing against rocks, to birds playing and flirting.
We had coffee and quiet reflection on the decks looking out over the water. We watched as hummingbirds bravely approached the feeders for nourishment, no cares in the world. We were graced by the presence of so many gorgeous deer.
It was all perfect. But my favorite part was practicing empathy and holding space on the deck, the afternoon we arrived at the new house.
We were all irritable and a little wine drunk (Texas heat calls for such things). But we were paired up with a fellow yogi(ni) and asked to look into her eyes without saying anything. It was really difficult at first. We were all distracted and uncomfortable with the level of intimacy that took but once we settled in the magic happened. I was partnered with the same person who road over with me and she had begun telling me parts of her story, which I won’t share here in order to protect her confidence, but I will tell you she has been through so much! She is so strong. I think that conversation made the staring exercise deeply connecting. I looked into her eyes and really tried to understand what was there and I saw sadness.
As soon as I saw the sadness in her eyes, I softened my gaze and she began to cry. I reached out my hand for her to take and whispered, “I’ve got you. It’s okay.” And we sat there for the next 5 minutes, holding hands, looking into each other’s eyes, her tears quietly flowing. Eventually I made a conscious decision to deepen my breathing, to make the rise and fall of my chest visible. She picked up on it and matched her breathing to mine. We took our breaths in sync and eventually her eyes softened too. I saw gratitude there as she seemed to find a sense of peaceful catharsis. Everything else in the background slipped away in those minutes. I didn’t hear the jetskis or the boats or the barking dogs or the drunken teenagers. I just saw her, my partner in that exercise. It really taught me how much we can truly help one another by just being fully present and in the moment. By truly holding space. I never really knew what that meant until this weekend.
This weekend has, once again, taught me the power of being in the moment. Sitting with yogis next to the lake, listening to birds. Staring into the eyes of friends as emotions well up inside them. Listening to the stories of others, bearing witness with our whole selves. I even realized how important it is to be fully present when things go wrong because sometimes the falling apart really is a falling together. I couldn’t have asked for a more perfect weekend.