FREEDOM OF PURPOSE
Saturday – February 4th, 2012
Here we go! I did it. Again. I am now sitting at Sea-Tac airport. 5:15am. Wondering. How did I manage to get here once more?
My friends think I am insane. I don’t blame them. Who decides to just skip out on a week of school during the middle of the quarter to go to Mexico? But as one of my dear friends told me before I left, “You’re crazy. But this does not surprise me. If anyone can pull this off – it’s you.”
I like to justify myself by saying things like…
- Airfare was only $450 round trip!
- I’m only taking 10 credits, therefore only missing three days of class
- My classes are screen-casted
- I don’t spend my money on anything else
Which is all true. Airfare was cheap. Especially since I saved $80 by booking flights with pit stops in SoCal. I am taking an easy and light load this quarter (but really this is just because I am bored and have no idea what I am doing). And I don’t spend my money on much else besides food, yoga and traveling – true. My friends would be amazed. If they saved all the money they spent on parties and alcohol – they might find that buying a ticket to Mexico is a lot easier than it seems.
But none of the above listed justifications explain WHY I am here. My journey starts like any other modern day yogi’s journey would. I was on facebook.
I was going on a “Like” rampage. Trying to like just about every facebook page that had to do with yoga, traveling – or both. In the midst of my rampage, my friend from teacher training – Jake – posted something about a spot opening up at Alchemy Tour’s Xinalani yoga retreat. He hosts retreats with Silvia, my teacher from teacher training.
My first thought was “I wish – but no way.”
Less than a week later I found myself emailing Silvia and Jake; asking if that spot was still open.
My mom used to tell me I was crazy too. She worried that my obsession with traveling was an excuse I was using to run away from things I didn’t want to deal with at home. I’d argue the opposite. Traveling has always brought me great fulfillment. Yes – it is sometimes fueled by my desire to “get away”, but it has always brought me clarity, direction, and inspiration to keep moving forward. I think of traveling as a huge mind-opening experience. Sometimes we get so caught up in the drama of our own lives at home. We are so immersed. Knee deep in the depths of where we are and the drama of what we’re living in. Traveling gives me the opportunity to take a “step back” to see the big picture. To gain clarity and identify what’s important – and what isn’t.
Before I booked my ticket to Mexico, I was overwhelmed with wave after wave of change in thought and direction. I felt like a broken compass, not even sure which way was North.
I’m tired of people telling me “I don’t HAVE to know what I want to do.” I want to know. I want to know what my purpose is, and I want to know where I am headed, because without direction I have no motivation. Without motivation I have no desire to even get out of bed in the morning. I’m not expecting to walk away from this retreat with a detailed map of each step by step plan I have for the rest of my life. But I want to know where I’m going. Must fix internal compass.
I came on this retreat because these questions keep popping up.
Who am I? What am I doing? Where am I going? Why am I here?
So I am here. Sitting at the gate ninety minutes early – just the way I like it. For as much as I do love to travel, I am not an airport person. I’ll break out with twenty zits if I feel rushed. I’d rather be two hours early than one minute late.
I get in line to board our plane. I also purposely have picked a seat closer to the back so I can board first (since they board back to front). I want to make sure I have space for my huge-ass duffle bag. Light packing was never my forte. I try to be friendly to the lady in check-out line, but she’s not having it.
“Does that bag fit?” the words formed a question, but her inflection indicated it as a statement.
“Well, I’ve been using it for over two years now and I haven’t ever had a problem with it.” I tried to say it nicely, but I’m not exactly a morning person either. Om. Shanti. Shanti.
“Well let’s see. Go on. Try and fit it in over there in the metal stand.” She was challenging me.
I walk over to the stand with the sign above saying “Your Carry-On Bag Must Fit Here”. I lay my pathetic duffle on the metal frame while twenty people behind me are rolling their eyes impatiently. Whose carry-on actually fits in there anyway!? I don’t even bother trying to squish it in there. She and I both know it’s not fitting.
She checks my bag, and I’m praying it makes it all the way to Puerto Vallarta. I am grumpy for being separated from my bag – but secretly grateful I won’t have to lug it around LAX.
I am now sitting in seat 21A next to an older friendly old couple. I look out the window and see Mount Rainier staring me in the face with a hot pink sun rising behind it. It’s the best feeling to know that no matter where I go, Seattle will always have my heart. Without a doubt the most beautiful place I have ever been.
After arriving at the Los Angeles Airport, I board the same plane and find myself sitting next to a girl also on her way to a different yoga retreat to Sayulita. We smelled the yoga vibes on each other.
Is this really happening? I am just a couple steps away from actually being there. We touch down in Puerto Vallarta, one step closer to being there. It doesn’t feel real yet. I am praying my bag made it all the way here. While waiting at the carousel, I see nearly ten red duffle bags pass by before at last mine arrives. Great travel karma.
I snatch it, and scurry to the exit unable to mask my excitement. I then get bombarded by taxi drivers asking if I need a ride. I am thankful that I have had the insane airport experiences in Nepal. I was prepared for this. Find my way to the VIP transfer, and am waiting. The rest of my group arrives. Dan, Grace, and Patti. They are all students of Hauteyoga Queen Anne whom I recognize. I feel a little bit “at home” even just slightly knowing a few of the people.
We file into a shuttle which takes us to the Puerto Vallarta Marina. I find Maddison and two other ladies from the Shake Your Soul retreat – also at Xinalani. Feel more at home. It’s amazing what being surrounded by a group of yoga-minded people can do to you. I’m at ease already.
Our boat takes us on a beautiful journey across the ocean, and at last we arrive at Xinalani. Our group has arrived later than expected. We barely have time to put our bags down before we are scrambling up a set of dark stairs into yoga class, which has already started. Despite all of the craziness going on – we couldn’t have walked into a more peaceful setting. I quickly find a mat and lay down with my feet facing the ocean. Eyes close. I hear the softness in Silvia’s voice, and again – feel “safe” at home.
After class, and very brief introductions, we are shuffled down to dinner. I had a delicious meal of guacamole, roasted corn, fish tacos, and truffles. What a warm welcoming this has been.
My food coma settles in. And I am drained. I’ve hit a wall and my eyelids are fighting gravity. Jake walks me to my room. It is without a doubt one of the most unique places I have ever slept in. It reminds me exactly of the bungalow I stayed at with Reid in Thailand on the Phi Phi Islands – except there is no wall leading out to the porch. Yes. No wall. The room is wide open to nature and the sounds of the ocean. I love it.
The focus for this trip with Alchemy Tours is Freedom of Purpose. So I’m asking myself before I go to bed tonight – what gives me freedom?
- Living as my “true self” – not what others expect of me
- Knowing who I am – when I know this I have direction
- Belief in myself and my dreams
- Abandoning fear (of what others will think and of failure)
Sunday – February 5th, 2012
I woke up this morning to the most peaceful sound of ocean waves. I am wondering what today will bring me. I still have to repeat to myself out loud that yes, I am here. This is happening.
I meander down the many steps to breakfast where I sit at a table with some of the yogis from the Shake Your Soul group. I meet a lovely lady named Sarah who is also from Seattle, who also lives in Queen Anne, and who works for Children’s Hospital. Small world.
Today in class we recapped a bit on what I journaled about last night. What things in our life will give us freedom? And what things get in the way of our freedom? I wrote that fear, judgement, expectations, and habbits get in the way of my freedom. The consequences are that I end up holding back, losing focus, not living up to my potential, and I feel like i have no direction.
Today we are focusing on the first chakra. The sanskrit name for the Root chakra is Muladhara. Self-work of the first chakra relates to self-preservation. Movement is slow and steady. It involves our “right to be here”. Principals surrounding the Root chakra include grounding, survival, finances, family, physical health, trust, safety, security, and stability. If the first chakra is out of balance, this may result in fear, instability, Mistrust, Insecurity, Monotony, Hoarding, Materialism, Greed, Sciatica, Constipation, Anorexia, Obesity, Addictions to food, gambling, shopping, and work. Other fun facts about this chakra include the element which is earth, the sense is smell, color is red, and it relates to our feet, legs, ankles, hips, and knees.
So in honor of our Root chakra, Silvia prompts us to write about “Who Am I?” The key is I am no allowed to write things like a student, yoga teacher, daughter, etc. It’s a difficult prompt. I write that I am a passionate, compassionate, hardworking, learner, giver, leader, and motivator. I believe in all of these things. We then discuss how when we are able to be ourselves – we liberate those around us to want to be themselves too. And I know this is true because I have always gravitated towards these types of people in my life. Honesty has to be one of my favorite qualities in friends. People who are just real with me.
We wrap up the journaling sesison by drawing what Silvia calls a “Mind Map”. Simple. Draw a circle. Inside the circle write a list of things that you consider important and good for your health. On the outside of the circle, make a list of all the things that interfere with your health.
For lunch I gobbled up a delicious salad with cucumbers, tomatoes, quinoa, onions and hummus. Yum. Yum. Yum. Drooling. After lunch some of the group decides to follow Jake to go on a horseback riding adventure.
Not entirely sure what I have signed up for. But I am down to have some group bonding time and see more of the surrounding area. I ask our friend what my horse’s name is. He says “Ranger”. I wonder if he made that up. Nonetheless, I bond instantly with Ranger. I am reminded of all the times I used to go horseback riding with my sisters in Sun River, Oregon.
But I feel bad for these horsies. They look tattered, like they’ve definitely been through a lot. I’m trying to give Ranger a little neck/shoulder massage and he turns his head to look at me a few times. Still don’t think he appreciates having to carry me on his back.
We meander through a little trail. There is some drama as Grace’s horse decides to charge out of nowhere and she slides off the side of her saddle into the sandy water. She hops right back onto another horse before half of us even realize what had happened. Handled like a champ.
I like the way Erica described the dilemma our horsies are experiencing, “If these horses drew a mind map of their health and freedom – I don’t think having us on their backs would be in their inner circle.” I’m laughing out loud. But she’s probably right.
We arrive at our destination. A gorgeous waterfall pouring cold water into the perfect swimming hole. I decided that this retreat I am working on getting over my fear of open water. I love the water. I love to swim. But something about being in open water alone sends me into panic mode. It’s the same feeling I get when I walk out at night alone – even just to the garage. I get an insane wave of the worst case scenario thoughts one after the other after the other. Intense anxiety. So I work on trying to control the thoughts. Breathe.
I jump in after Jake and Casey, and the water is a little chilly! I’m wading, wading, wading. Reid is not here to hold my hand. I am breathing. We try climbing around on the rocks, and then watch the locals as they leap from great heights into the water. Young children scaling vertical rock, climbing up and down the rope… is a slightly sketchy operation. I am nervous I may witness a terrible accident and am packing up my things. Ready to leave before someone gets hurt.
Ranger takes me back to Xinalani, and I thank him with one last little neck massage.
I make my way to the beach for the first time! Yes. Madison is out baking in the sun and I decide to park near her. Casey and Erica join us. Madison proceeds to convince me into ordering my first Corona. It seemed like a fitting occasion anyway – on a beach in Mexico after riding horses? Couldn’t have been a better time for my first Corona!
I chat for an hour or so with the three girls just getting to know them. I love hearing where people have come from, and why they are here. It reminds me of how important it is to be mindful that everyone has a unique story. Everyone has a special perspective to offer. We all come from different backgrounds, but are blessed to be able to share this magical experience together. I am so happy. Me and my Corona.
Class this evening was very calm. Silvia had us write one word on a notecard that finished the sentence “I AM ________.” The foundation for the root chakra. I wrote “myself” on my notecard. I end up spending the entire class wondering if my answer was wrong. Was I avoiding the question by answering it in that way? I have a difficult time describing what “I Am” in one word – so I just chose to by myself. But even if I were to describe who myself was, would I know how to do that honestly? Without avoidance? I have never enjoyed talking about myself.
We wrap up with a brief meditation and it brings me back to being here. I let go of worrying about my notecard, and feel satisfied with where I’m at.
Immediately following meditation I rush downstairs to check my email. Panicking since this is the first week I am leaving Yogis at UW – and hoping that things run smoothly while I am gone. Also must check on reading assignments for this week.
I come back to dinner and feel frazzled. Unsure why. Casey takes one look at me, and tells me I should have waited and not rushed to jump on the computer directly after meditation. She’s honest. But she’s right!
For dinner we had chile relleno, mahi-mahi, and avocado mousse. Wowowowowowwww!!! Yes – the mousse was crazy. So weird. But weirdly delicious. I was into it. Madison orders me my first Sangria. I wish I had just gotten a beer. The sangria is not nearly as delicious as the red wine and orange soda combo that the Bulgarians from Romio’s taught me. To this day it is still my favorite drink.
My roommate, Libby, comes from a totally different world. She lives in the Northwest Territory in Canada. It is negative 40 degrees there (Celsius), they speak a village language that isn’t official and has no rules, and she is the only person at her office right now. Incredible. Everyone has a story.
Somehow another beer winds up in front of me. I have very low alcohol tolerance. I am starting to fade away. Jake lets me use his phone to make a call to Reid – I leave a voice message, and am thinking of him. I trek up the stairs to my halo bed.
Monday – February 6th, 2012
Class is at 8:00am this morning, and I wake up at 7:40am. Our main light is out – it went out in the middle of my shower last night. I gaze out at the beautiful view before me and make my way to the bathroom. I quickly throw on my yoga clothes, and pop in my contacts. Cannot see myself in the mirror since it is still pretty dark.
I get to class and Casey tells me I have a booger hanging out on my nose. Classic. Then half way through class I notice my pants are on inside out. I am laughing, because Silvia asks us to write down what our “word” from last night means. Mine is – I am myself. Myself just happens to be notorious for wearing clothes backwards, inside out, or both.
Today in class we focused on the second chakra – also known as the Sacral Chakra or Svadihistana. The second chakra is located two inches above the pelvic floor, low belly. The self-work of this chakra involves self-gratification. The movement is fluid, circular like water and sensous. It embraces the right to feel. Other fun facts about this chakra include the element which is water, sense is taste, color is orange, and the bija seed sound is Vam. The primary concepts surrounding this chakra include creation, relationship, play, pleasure, and sexuality. When the third chakra is out of balance, we may experience Guilt, Inhibition, Repressed sexual energy, Excessive sexual preoccupation, Infertility, Poor boundaries, Obsessive attachments, Addictions to alcohol, sex, and heroin. Areas of the body relating to this chakra include the sacrum, ovaries or testes, bladder, kidneys, and circulatory system
Silvia asks us to journal about a couple of things. The first is “What does 2012 look like for me?”
I can’t get too specific – otherwise I obsess over the details. But I know 2012 will be a breakthrough year for me as far as school goes. I hope to do well, and by well – I mean be on a path that I want to be on. I see even more spiritual growth, than what I have experienced in the past year.
The second journal question was “What have I been most self-conscious about?”
This took me a while to get going. There are plenty of little things I’m self-conscious about (like having boogers on my nose and wearing my clothes inside out during class). But I suppose that the thing I have been MOST self-conscious about recently has been the fear that I will fail at something that I try, and people will no longer think I’m smart or talented or whatever it is that they “think” I am.
After class we ate breakfast (fruit and oats) – I sat with two of the other ladies from Chicago, Naomi and Stephanie. I haven’t gotten to know them well yet. When people ask me about who I am, and where I am from – somehow school always finds its way into the conversation. I don’t like talking about it. I don’t ever really know what to say.
Yes I am in school. I’m majoring in Public Health and Pre-Medicine. But I don’t know if that’s what I want. I really just want to finish college right now and get my degree so I can go on and do other things that I actually want to do. But what a crappy mentality. Shouldn’t I be enjoying college?
People always have an opinion on what my major is, or what I need to do or don’t need to do. Part of me loves to get the input and advice, and another part of me just wants to not talk about it and just have it be done with. When I tell people I am a pre-med student I get 1 of 2 reactions
#1) Wow. That must be a lot of work. Good for you. (Those who are impressed)
#2) Medical school is a big commitment (Those who think being a doctor is overrated)
After chatting with them I wander down to the beach for a while before we went on a “jungle hike”. Laid out in the sunshine with Maddison, Casey, and Erica. Did some more swimming in the ocean. Slowly overcoming my fear. Not ready to put on the goggles yet. Seeing fish is like an entirely new level of courage that I’m not yet prepared for.
We have lunch (salad, mushroom + coconut soup), and begin our hike from the beach. Las Animas is the beach town we are hiking to. I certainly appreciate my time alone and with other people – but times like this make me really wish Reid was here. Whenever we go on walks together I always have a very wild imagination that likes to make up stories of what is happening around us. My typical pattern when we go on hikes together, is to personify the trees. Some of them look like they are dancing; wiggling their way up to the sky. Some of them are growing sideways out of the ground and seem to just be taking a big morning stretch. A lot of the trees I saw today seemed like they were ringing out water from their hair, and they had little pieces of wavy hair scattered out all over the place. Kind of like my hair after I swim in the ocean. A cute little black and white dog befriends our group, and follows us for the entire hike.
We arrive at Las Animas! I walk along the beach before settling in and love to observe all of the locals here just playing in the sun. Volleyball. Swimming. Or just drinking a few cold beers.
I go swimming again. The beach here has more people so the fear of open water is less intense. Some German guy swims over to Jake, Casey, and I – and begins to chat with Jake. They get on the subject of beer and he says “American beer is like having sex in a canoe. Really f*cking close to water.”
I’m dying. Laughing. Taking this as my cue to go back and find my towel on the beach.
I am trying to read my textbook, but have never been good at reading with other conversations going around me. I think I re-read the same page at least seven times.
After lounging around in the sun for a bit, our group beings the trek back to Xinalani. The way back seems to go much faster. I discover that Jake used to be a track coach at Eastlake while I was at school! Weird to think that I was less than twenty yards away, playing tennis while he was out coaching!
We arrive at the beach along with our new puppy friend. I’ve got about fifteen minutes before we have to be up in the meditation cabin. I dash to the room and rinse off all the sand that I can before putting on fresh clothes.
I arrive in the small meditation cabin and feel a wave of peacefulness wash over me before the session even begins. As more of our members slowly file in, we sit in a circular formation. We’re close to each other. It is a small room and there are sixteen of us including Jake and Silvia.
Silvia begins leading the meditation by asking us a couple of questions – Who am I? What is being offered to me that I am not recieving?
I’m not entirely sure what it was about this moment. Perhaps it was simply being close to this many people in a meditation setting, the group energy was unreal. But tears started to come. At first just a few slowly spilled out of the corner of my eye. But then they wouldn’t stop. It was like an internal faucet had turned on and I began silently sobbing while sitting in meditation. I tried not to fight it, but at first I was scared – I didn’t really understand what was going on.
After who knows how long, we silently do a walking meditation from the cabin up to the jungle studio. Silvia leads us through a few restorative poses, and we again end in meditation. I don’t want to leave this moment.
I come out of the meditation completely unaware of how much time has passed. It feels like ten minutes, but I know it was at least over an hour. I know something really incredible has just taken place, and I’m trying to let the juices of everything settle in before going down to dinner.
I quietly arrive at the dinner table. I’m unable to really engage in any conversation during dinner. I still feel a bit spaced out and far away. I’m not very hungry but cannot pass up the tortilla soup and gluten free cake.
I’m slipping away and pack up my things to go up to bed. I remember to ask Jake about our light. The main one in our room has been burnt out for almost two days and there’s no other real source of light in the rooms. While he goes back to ask someone about the light, I tell Silvia about the two butterflies I saw on my bed netting this morning.
I left for class and there were two pretty little orange butterflies just resting on the mosquito netting. I came back from class and they were still there, and when we returned back from the hike… they were still there. I was just telling her the story because I thought it was cute. But she nods her head up and down. I’m not sure why.
She explains that butterflies are a symbol of freedom. Is this coincidence? I doubt it.
Tuesday – January 7th, 2012
I wake up at 6:30am. I consider going for a run on the beach. I brought a pair of running shorts, but the beach here doesn’t stretch as far as I am used to when visiting my aunt in Manhattan Beach. I convince myself I will have plenty of time to run when I get home, and I should sleep while I can on vacation. It doesn’t matter where I am, or how noisy it is. When I am on vacation away from home, I sleep like a baby.
Today we are focusing on the Third Chakra or the solar plexus chakra – Manipura. The self-work involving this chakra is self-definition. Movement involves purpose, energizing the limbs and torso, and building chi. The right entails our right to act, and the major concepts surrounding this chakra include Power, Will, Self-esteem, Self-image, Digestion, Adaptability, Ability to grow, Vitality, and Purpose. When we are out of balance here we may see Shame, Low self-esteem, Depression, Passivity, Fear, Difficulty accepting change, Inability to adapt, Dominating, Bullying, Blaming, Aggressive, Scattered, Digestive problems, Diabetes, Addictions to amphetamines, cocaine, caffeine, and work. Some other fun facts about this chakra include the element which is fire, sense is sight, color is yellow-gold, and the Bija seed sound is Ram. The areas of the body relating to this chakra include the lumbar spine, large and small intestines, liver, pancreas, adrenal glands, and digestive system. The pranayama coordinating with this chakra includes Kapalabhati, or breath of fire.
When Silvia talks about the third chakra, self-defitinition, and purpose – she refers to the famous quote by Marianne Williamson. I know exactly the one because I have it memorized by heart. I quickly jot it down in my journal.
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that frightens us most. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and famous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that people won’t feel insecure around you. We were born to shine as children do. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in all of us. And when we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” – Maryanne Williamson
She then asked us what pose would make us feel free? What pose do we aspire to be able to finally get? I couldn’t think of one immediately. Yoga hasn’t ever really been about that for me – which is maybe why I haven’t been growing much in my physical practice. I certainly have grown over the past year – but not as much as I know I could be. I’ve never really pushed myself in yoga. This has been good for me the past several years when I was pushing myself too much in all other aspects of my life. But I have evolved since then. I think I’m ready to bring a little aspiration of the asanas into my practice. And I took this moment as a sign that goal setting in yoga might be a good idea. I decide I am going to start working on the full expression of natarajasana. King dancer – with both hands holding the back foot.
Class is beautiful this morning. Lots of standing splits with prep on jumping into handstand. Silvia comes to spot me and I end up kicking her somewhere in the jaw. Damn long-ass legs have no spatial awareness. Once a klutz always a klutz.
I come back and immediately prepare for the beach. I go down just in time for lunch – thank god since I missed breakfast and my tummy is screaming at me. I fill up with a delicious salad but don’t see where the salad dressing is. I assume that they just don’t use dressing – but I need something! So I dump some Sriracha on it for some kind of wet substance. Mouth is on fire. I later overhear Erica raving about the delicious salad dressing which was apparently located right in front of the salad container. Whoops. Leave it to me.
I find my way to the beach and post up on a nice flat patch of sand. I’m already feeling the sun is much more intense today. I spend my afternoon alternating between 1) laying in the sun, 2) jumping into the ocean to cool off, 3) walking along the beach, 4) walking back to be in the shade, and 5) attempting to study. Not all necessarily in that order.
Xinalani has some ridiculously humongous birds here. Jake likes to call them pterodactyls… which I kind of agree with. I occasionally get distracted from my reading and glance upward to watch them soaring in circles. Then, out of nowhere, they tuck in their wings and do a straight nose dive into the ocean. I fear for the little fishies below.
Xinalani has a neighborhood pup as well. The same one from the hike is making rounds and friends with everyone from the retreat. She plopped down on my towel today for all of 5 minutes before she went off and had a love affair with some other tourist. She’s stolen all of our hearts – but she’s not the only one. All of the dogs here just come around begging for our love and affection. We happily oblige.
Madison decides to go float out in the ocean on a boogie board. I am surprised because she seemed so hesitant to go into the water earlier, but am happy for her! “Nice, have fun!” I say with encouragement. Ten minutes later I see her come tumbling out of the water and trudge up the stairs with tears in her eyes. I think the waves pushed her around a bit. She returns back to the beach with a beer in her hand (courtesy of none other than the wonderful Dan Waggoner), and her mood is steadily improving.
I am enjoying the big comfy chairs out on the shaded porch while attempting to study. Several people pass by on their way to and from the beach. They all stop to look at my notes and ask what I am studying. Why do I dislike talking about school so much? Or maybe I just don’t like talking about myself? Or both? I’m not really sure.
I am trying to get through this chapter today. I have been blessed. I received an email today from my instructor who has cancelled my only class on Friday. So – I am really only missing two days of class!!! This trip was meant to be.
I hike up (literally) to my bedroom early. Around 4:00pm. The sun sometimes soaks up a lot of my energy. I feel zapped. I take a cold shower and brush my hair for the first time since I’ve been here. Whoops. I let my hair air-dry as I lay in the hammock overlooking the ocean. I have to catch myself from falling asleep before class begins in the Jungle studio.
There are two routes to the beautiful Jungle studio. The promenade, or the “athletic path”. I take the athletic path, but according to Casey it’s actually the easier one. Steeper – but significantly shorter.
Tonight is a moonlight ceremony. Silvia talks about the need to let go to start new beginnings. I am wondering what my new beginning is. What do I need to let go of? When people talk about forgiveness and letting go, in the past I have always thought of my family and those who have hurt me. That was the one situation in my life where I always felt like I was stuck. But tonight – my mind didn’t wander there. I was thinking about myself. I suffer from perfectionism. I have since I was about 11 years old. And I know exactly how it started. I didn’t used to always be this way. Before my parents were divorced I was a terrible student. I was a yapper, disrupter of class, extremely bright but never did my homework. I loved to cause drama and controversy with my girlfriends. I was a pot-stirrer.
After my parents split up, I started to convince myself that if I did things in a certain way, my parents would get back together. It started with my lucky blanky. I obsessively began sleeping with it every night, knowing that if I did that they would get back together. I even remember little things like blowing bubbles in my bedroom and trying to catch one in my hand. If I could catch one in my hand without it popping – they would get back together. Then the little things transformed into school. And eventually into everything else. If I never missed a homework assignment, and always wore my glasses – maybe they would get back together. I remember the word “perfectionist” first got used at a parent-teacher conference with my fifth grade teacher. The word hadn’t ever really applied to me before.
It’s something I still live with today (not the thought that my parents will get back together). But the perfectionist mentality. If I do things perfectly – everything else will happen the way I want it to. It’s a mentality that I work at letting go of as often as I can. But not often enough.
We end class in face down savasana and Silvia comes around to lay blankets over all of us. I feel a warmth surround my heart and am not sure where it’s coming from.
I again have to stop myself from falling asleep here. It’s time to dine! And at Xinalani, we dine like Kings and Queens. Tonight we had a yummy salad to start, and a Portobello mushroom with mashed potatoes and broccoli as the main course. I’d never just eaten a straight up Portobello like that, but I loved it. It was slightly salty and I’m feeling my tummy expand with every bite. To finish it off they bring out a little apple cobbler (gluten free for me!). I love fruity desserts!! I’m not used to eating dinner this late. I tell Madison I usually eat around 4:30 or 5:00pm at home. She says I am the weirdest 21 year old she’s ever met. Not the first time I’ve heard someone tell me this.
I embrace my inner weirdo as I am one of the first ones to make the head back up to my bungalow (99 steps if you include the porch).
Wednesday – February 8th, 2012
Yoga before breakfast this morning. I prefer this sequence of events. The food here is too good – when I eat breakfast before yoga, I swear I can feel my food squishing around while moving through class.
We all gather in the greenhouse, and await Silvia’s arrival. Today we are focusing on the Fourth Chakra, also known as the heart Chakra or Anahata. The self-work of this chakra involves self-love, and includes the right to love and be loved. Something that definitely speaks to me. The movement of this Chakra moves from the breath to move deep, and move the body. Other facts include the element which is Air, sense is touch, color is green, and Bija seed sound is Yam. Basic principals surrounding this Chakra include Love, Devotion, Ability to connect with others, Opennesss, Compassion, Balance, Self-acceptance, Self-confidence, To be in good relationship, and Place where dharma resides. When out of balance, we may see Grief, Emotional outbursts, Insecurity, Nervousness, Anxiety, Anger, Impatience, Fanaticism, Overly Critical, Withdrawn, Inability to have deep relationships, Inability to express emotion, Codependency, Poor boundaries, Posessive, Jealous, Addictions to tobacco, sugar, and marijuana. The areas of the body relating to this Chakra include the thoracic spine, heart, lungs, spleen, arms and hands. I think this is one of my most balanced Chakras.
Class involves a lot of quad stretching and heart opening. At last – I made my first transition ever from downward facing dog to wheel. This wasn’t ever something I really pushed myself to try, but today I figured why not?
Silvia reminds us that by “plugging in” the extended arm after we flip the dog, we are sending a reminder to give love to ourselves first. By then doing that I was able to at last reach to the floor and transform into a wheel. I know I have this tendency in my yoga asana (reaching out before plugging in). But I know that I also do it in real life. I am constantly in “give mode”. I often neglect to remember to love myself first. I am a giver by nature – constantly looking for “what can I do for you?” I have never been good at receiving gifts, compliments, forgiveness, or love. Something I have and am continuing to work on.
I had a delicious bowl of fruit, nuts, and honey for breakfast this morning. I make my way down to my favorite shaded porch with the comfy chairs overlooking the ocean. It is the ideal study spot.
I am reading a chapter in my Psychology of Gender book right now on Hormones and Chromosomes. It talks about the processes of how each of us develop into males or females. Usually. It then goes into detail about those who have developmental disorders. They are either missing a sex chromosome, or they have an additional one, or something else goes on which causes a disorder. These individuals are born with both male AND female genitalia. For example, an individual with androgen insensitivity syndrome is an XY male fetus whose body cells are insensitive to androgens (which is the hormone that prompts development of male reproductive system). Since the cells do not respond to the androgens, the baby will appear as a female at birth – but their internal genitalia are masculine. They may live their whole lives as a female, completely unaware that they in fact have no ovaries. They are part male. Once they become a certain age and have not yet hit puberty – they may go to see a doctor and discover that in fact they are technically half male. Talk about identity crisis and feeling like you don’t know “who you are”. My problems are mild compared to what so many other individuals face.
Okay. Apologies for the digression – but I think I’ve made my point. I am at least able to identify myself as a woman. This I am sure of. This I am grateful for.
After finishing another section of my chapter I close my book and decide to wander down the beach for a bit. I come across Julissa. A sweet, beautiful, Puerto Rican woman from upstate New York. She’s standing near the ocean with her shorts and a tank top on. She explains to me that she really wants to go in the ocean, but she doesn’t want to have to hike all the way back up to her room to get her bathing suit on.
I smile at her, “Well you have a sports bra under there don’t you?”
“Well, yeah, but. Like… I don’t know!” she replies.
“Just go in the water!” I encourage her, continuing to smile… “This whole retreat is about freedom anyway isn’t it? What better way to just be free?”
She nods in agreement, “Yeah. You’re right Alysha.”
I walk a little further down the beach, reach the pretty rocks at the end, deciding to turn back. I make it half way and smile to myself as I see Julissa slowly wading into the ocean in her sports bra and shorts. I pick up my pace to cheer her on.
“This is great!” she squeals as a wave nearly swallows her up.
It is so awesome to see people transform and have breakthroughs. And to be a part of the process. The magic of yoga. Hard at work.
I continue pushing through more homework until it’s time to grab lunch before heading out to Yelapa for the day. I sit with two new people while eating my crunchy salad. Trying to make sure I am able to get to know everyone in our group before it’s too late. They’re sweet ladies from Chicago. I again get asked about school and slightly sigh a little bit. Why am I so uncomfortable talking about myself? I will continue to ask myself this question.
We gather our group and journey out to the pier where our boat picks us up to visit Yelapa. I’m searching the water for whales but see nothing. We arrive in “downtown” as they called it, and opt to take a short walk up to find the waterfall nearby. They say it’s impossible to get lost in this town so I’m thankful for this. Me and my terrible sense of direction.
The streets here remind me of a mix of Greece, Nepal, and Thailand all in one. Silvia sneaks up beside me and says, “This town reminds me of so many different places kind of fused into one.” This happens to me all the time, and many times on this trip. I think something in my brain, and within seconds hear someone else say it out loud. Perhaps my Grandma’s psychic powers are manifesting inside of me.
Little dogs roam the street which is adorned in hanging flowers, garments, artwork, souvenirs and gifts shops along the way. We reach the waterfall in less than ten minutes and I stare up at where the water is falling from. Each little bead of water has no choice. Whether they want to or not, they will free fall from the river above and evolve into the pool below. I feel for those little beads of water. We snap some yoga photos of each other, and continue back through town toward the beach.
On the walk back I remember Madison telling me that Patti had a Match.com account. She’s never been married, and doesn’t have interest in having children anymore, but says she would still really like to get married. I’m a fan of Patti. And I’m a fan of online dating. I remember my mom used Match.com when she finally started to date after being divorced for two years. But Patti doesn’t have a photo up yet! So I sneak up next to her and let her know…
“Patti, if you see somewhere where you would like to get your picture taken, let me know! I’d love to take one for you.”
She looks delighted and replies, “Oh yes. Yes, Alysha I would really like that. Thank you so much, I think I might take you up on that later.”
As we approach the beach I see a bay full of pretty boats overlooking the jungle, beach, and sunny blue sky. I offer to take her photo and snap one with her little disposable Kodak camera. She is an adorably beautiful lady, and I know that photo will be a keeper.
We all settle in on the beach, and as I am walking on my way to find the bathroom I get asked if I would like weed on three different occasions. Do I look like a junky? Perhaps I need to wash my hair. I look around for something to buy Reid for Valentine’s Day, but don’t see anything super unique. I settle in on a beach chair next to Madison, and one of our high as the sky friends decides to pull out his karaoke machine to sing happy birthday to a lucky lady down the beach. He then parks his machine right by Silvia and Jake for an afternoon of fun, sun, and awful karaoke.
After a thoroughly entertaining afternoon, we make it back barely in time to scramble up to the greenhouse. Given that today is focused on the heart chakra, Silvia talks a bit about relationships. We draw a “mind map” related to relationships. What do you want in your relationship goes on the inside, what you don’t want goes on the outside. Easy.
I thought of Reid and how lucky I am. I get one of two reactions when I tell people that we have been dating since I was sixteen years old. The first is, “wow that’s a long time.” The tone of their voice indicates they don’t believe in young love. I typically identify these people as cynics. The second reaction I get is one of sweet hope. “Aww, that’s adorable.” These people believe in true love – age isn’t a factor.
I know our relationship is special for lack of a better word. For being twenty one years old, we have been through some pretty stormy weather together.
We know each other so well. More than anyone else in the world I can just be myself with him, and I feel safe knowing that he loves me fore that. Our love may be young but I think our relationship has the wisdom of any other long lasting love.
I looked at my “mind map” of what “I want” in a healthy love relationship. Everything inside I know that I already have. I am so blessed.
Silvia ends class talking about our Dharma, and how this relates to our fourth chakra. When we have a healthy love relationship with ourselves – we become steady in our consciousness – and purpose becomes clear. Something I clearly need to work on.
We end class with partner work helping each other come up into wheel. Some people make it for the first time, and it fills my heart to see people grow. But it is clear to me that growth for them extends far beyond mastering the asana.
Dinner tonight included a lovely salad with enchiladas followed by coconut sorbet. Our end of the table was talking about their dreams. I notice how much I take interest in other people’s dreams (yet am uncomfortable talking about, and identifying my own). I wholeheartedly enjoy letting people just know that I believe in them. I love encouraging people to follow whatever it is that they want to do. Because seeing people light up when they talk about something they’re passionate about brings me inspiration. As a younger person, it is moving for me to see people take action on their dreams. Because I believe that my dreams and my purpose will evolve as I become older. I know that right now what I need to do is focus on learning. Focus on finishing school. Focus on finding ways to make this experience meaningful for myself and my peers. To be a motivator and supporter to those around me.
I finish eating and ask Jake if I can borrow his phone. I dial Reid’s number and talk to him briefly. He tells me he is happy I am here. Happy I am doing this for myself. And that he can hear how peaceful I am in my voice. He knows me inside out.
This day last year was the same day I was with Reid in the UW Medical Center at Roosevelt when we were told he had cancer. This same time last year I was also notified I was just accepted to teacher training. It’s funny being here and seeing how far I have come in the past 365 days. I know that I have gone through a huge transformation. So much has happened in such a short amount of time. But now it’s time for me to be here, in this moment, soak in what has happened – and discover what’s next.
Thurdsay – February 9th, 2012
I hear Libby’s sweet voice calling my name this morning. I asked her last night to wake me up if I wasn’t up by 7:40am so I can get to class on time. I usually wake up around 5:30 or 6:00am when I’m at home. I’ve been sleeping great here. I wish I could transport the sound of the ocean back home with me.
I quickly get dressed (double checking that my clothes are not inside out), and remember to grab my journal as I head out our door. I follow the pretty dirt path on my way to the greenhouse. Set up my mat, towel, a brick, blanket, and settle into the back row. Preparing to lay back with my knees up when Casey walks in and reminds us we’re in the Jungle Studio today. Whoops. Quickly pack up my things, and go charging back up the stairs. Nothing like a little morning cardio sesh to wake you up!
I love these stairs. I live on the 7th floor in my student apartment and am thankful that I always took the stairs up. I arrive at last in the studio where our mats have been placed in a circular formation and class begins.
Today we’re focusing on the 5th Chakra – communication and truth. But I appreciate Silvia pointing out that communication involves BOTH speaking, and listening. I am excellent at the listening part.
The Fifth Chakra also known as the throat Chakra or Vishuddha. Self-work portion of this Chakra involves self-expression, and the right to speak and hear the truth. The movement is without sound, letting sound move through the body, and then releasing through sound. Additionally, the element is sound, sense is hearing, color is bright blue, Bija seed sound is Ham, and pranayama is Ujjayi. Basic principles include communication, ability to speak clearly and appropriately, resonance. When out of balance we may see Lies, Fear or hesitaion in communication, Repressed communication, Excessive talking, Inability to listen, Stuttering, Hasty or inappropriate speech, Addictions to opiates, and marijuana. The area of the body associated with this Chakra includes the cervical spine, thymus and thyroid glands, throat, and voice.
Silvia asks us to go around and name the most courageous person that we know. I don’t have to think for long. I know a lot of courageous people – but Reid instantly comes to mind.
He is the most true to himself and honest to everyone person I know. He never falters. Through all that he has been through – and through all of my darkest moments – he has always been the same, strong, loving, and happy individual that he is today. He never gives up. He’s constantly chasing his dreams. Constantly trying something new. He believes anything is possible – and believes in himself. He is a picture of courage.
We then went around and were asked what was the most courageous thing that we did? I had a flash back of a lot of moments in my life. I don’t know what the “most” corageous thing would be. I think of the challenges I have overcome to be where I am at today. I make a note to myself to write a list of these things, and the little things, later on.
After my delicious granola and fruit breakfast, I wandered down to my favorite deck below, and began to catch up on some reading/writing. As I was sitting there – I see Casey climb up onto the big beautiful rocks below, and I quickly unzip my backpack to grab my fancy camera. I’ve wanted a nice camera for over three years now. The first course I ever took at the UW was a photography course. The instructor actually encouraged me to submit my portfolio to the Photography department for consideration as a photography major – but I didn’t think my mom would approve.
I have always loved taking photos much more than I like being in them. I was snapping pictures from far away on the deck, and slowly made my way down to where Silvia and Erica were directing her. We spent time taking beautiful photos of Casey. It’s interesting to see how the poses that people pick often say so much about who they are. Casey’s photos included a lot of plank variations, and really simple but strong asanas. I’ve only known her for a few days, but just through taking an hour or so photographing her felt like I learned even more about her!
I take a few more photos of some of the other yogis lounging on the beach. I have an option to go up to participate in a Yoga Dance class, but decide to stay and finish some reading and writing. I am in a zone that I don’t want to disturb.
I have not developed any tan lines since being here. I know I will go home and regret all the time I spent hiding from the sun in the shade. I convince myself to go and lay in the sun just for a bit on the sandy beach. I am the only person out here! I last maybe twenty minutes before becoming too hot and fearful of sunburn. I retreat back to my shady spot.
After lunch I wander back down to the beach for one more shot in the sun. I struggle with being still while daylight is burning. Fifteen minutes feels like thirty. Dan saves the day by asking one of our Xinalani friends to bring over two stand-up paddle boards. Grace (who is being silent today in honor of the 5th chakra) is teaching Madison how to use it. Madison heads out with the help of Jake and Dan.
Silvia, Grace, and I are all standing ashore watching, laughing, and taking photos. Madison eventually waves me over. I drop off my camera, and go back swimming into the water to switch places with her. I’ve only done this once and really was not good at it. Once a klutz, always a klutz.
I stand up a few times, and fall a few times. I’m just about over my fear of open water. I think. Thoughts are somewhat controlled. Maybe. I’ve calmed down the racing thoughts of abnormally large fish attacking me – and other wild things my imagination decides to come up with. I am at least breathing normal. I’m falling. Laughing. Jake is out farther than me, also trying to stand up on his board. The waves here are pretty big.
I fall off of my board, and come up to see Jake standing up on his – losing his balance. I tease him, and shout out “Show off!” as he falls crashing into the water.
I start climbing on my board when Jake pops up and back onto his board.
“Ow!” I hear him say.
Pause. I wait for him to elaborate.
“I think I hit a rock.” he says, with the calmness of a Buddha. Literally.
“Are you okay?” I inquire.
“Yeah…” he hesitates “I’m just bleeding a little bit.”
I’m thinking. Okay. Bleeding a little bit. A little scratch. Don’t want to fuss over it if it’s not a big deal. Let’s go to shore and get a Band-Aid. Problem solved.
My experience when people hurt themselves is to never overreact. My mom is the perfect bad example of this. When I got hit by a car in Paris our neighbors might have thought that the world had ended. If Nala (our puppy) has a drop of blood, mom’s version of the scenario includes… “blood SPILLING onto the floor”. So I have learned to use her as an example of how not to react.
So I am on my board and making my way back to the beach. Assuming that Jake’s little cut will be just fine. I’m waiting as Jake comes in shortly after me.
I’m looking closer now. I blink twice.
Arm covered in blood. This is not an exaggeration.
Painted in blood.
A little blood!? Is he serious?!!!
As he comes out of the water, Silvia snaps a photo of the wound with her iPhone.
He leaves with Grace, who silently bandages his wound.
Ah – what would a day at Xinalani be without a little drama to spice things up?
I stay on the beach with a little bit of survivors guilt settling in. Poor Jake.
I come to the room early to take a siesta before yoga at 6:15pm. We meet back in the greenhouse. Silvia asks us if we feel low, medium, or high creativity levels. I definitely know right now I’m in the highly creative zone. I have been for the past nine months or so. We’re talking about the 5th chakra as a balance between the heart and the mind.
I used to think only with my mind. All throughout high school and the beginning of college, I was analytical about everything. I’m not sure what has happened, but just within the past year I’ve notice an unusual amount of myself just wanting to listen to my heart and simply “let things happen”. I have this mentality that “everything happens for a reason”. So I guess things will just happen when they happen.
My brain knows that this is not logical. But sometimes I cannot stop myself. For example – I will study less for a test than I used to because I believe that if I am meant to do well, I will do well. This makes no sense. But it is my thought process.
I know this is a huge part of why I am struggling in school right now. Because my heart is telling me that this is not where I want to be. I don’t enjoy school right now. I have a creative surge of energy, ideas, and things I want to do – none of which involve sitting in school. I have legitimately thought about dropping out of college just within this past year. I’ve told my mom this. I just want to do what I love. And doing what I love doesn’t involve being in school. Right now.
But I know this is irrational. Sometimes I feel like I am in a rush. I am so eager to just get out and try to do everything now before time runs out. This leads me to make decisions without thinking.
Silvia leads us through a class that gives many tips on different ways to practice getting into supported headstand.
Before dinner I let Patti use my computer so she can make reservations on the Hauteyoga Queen Anne website for her classes this upcoming week when we return home. Talk about commitment! She thanks me about twenty times before giving me my computer back, and then tells me that anything I want to drink is on her tonight. My heart is tickled with the thought of Patti buying me a drink. Dinner is tomato soup, tamales, and chocolate cake in honor of Julissa’s birthday.
I talk with Madison a bit about what her plans are for when she gets back home. This is something I have to think about in advance. Making the transition from a paradise like this back to reality can be really exhausting sometimes. It is crucial that I find a way to bring a piece of this blissful reality back home with me.
I head back to my room as some of the others go to Charlie’s Bar. Not sure exactly what the scene is there, but I am once again too tired for anything else but my pillow.
Friday – February 10th, 2012
I blink my eyes open, but it’s dark outside. Black. I’m wondering what the time is, maybe 3, or 4am? I smack my hand around my bed and on the floor until I at last grasp my red glasses. Find my phone and glance at the time. 6:30am. It’s gonna be overcast today. But I am okay with that.
I open the netting at the foot of my bed and lay there as I watch the sky slowly start to lighten up. No sunshine – just light. There is a difference.
Class today is focused on the 6th Chakra. Areas of the body related to this Chakra include the brow area above the nose, and between the eyes. It also relates tot he brain, eyes, ears, and pituitary gland. It involves the Right to See (both physically as well is intuitively). Additionally the element associated with this Chakra is light, color is indigo or white, and the Bija seed sound is Am. Pranayama associated with the 6th chakra is alternate nostril breathing (Nadi Shodona). Basic principles surrounding this Chakra include Intuition, Imagination, Discernment, Ability to see from a deeper place within your “third eye”, Wisdom, Insight, Dreams, Vision, Color, and Clairvoyance. When out of balance we may see Illusion, Headaches, Nightmares, Hallucinations, Delusions, Difficulty concentrating, Poor memory, Denial, Addictions to hallucinogens, and marijuana.
Silvia says that kids who daydream all the time are really just meditating on their 6th chakra. I’m thinking Reid has a very balanced 6th Chakra.
When the sixth chakra is out of balance – we may experience denial, poor memory, and headaches. One way to get back into balance is by story-telling. I guess this is where my writing comes into play.
Silvia then gave me the best writing prompt I have had in a long time. Write the next chapter of your life. Two rules; 1) I am the main character, 2) I win. I love this idea. I’m going to do this when I get home. Not write out my entire life plan like I have tried to the past several times. But my story, just the next one or two steps. And this time – I get to come out on top.
We then reviewed the four keys to happiness, which I had not reviewed since teacher training. These four keys are a way to clear your heart of negative energy.
- Cultivate Naitri –> Friendliness –> Be happy for those that are happy –> Empathetic Joy
- Karma –> Compassion for those who are suffering –> Forgiveness –> Having compassion toward yourself
- Mudita –> Joy for those whom we admire
- Upeksanan –> Equanimity for those who have hurt us
We practice the first half of class with eyes closed. I have no urge to open them. In fact – I feel at home. When I practice at home, 90% of the time my eyes are closed. It’s funny how much more we can sometimes “see” when our eyes are physically closed. I love this, and am using this as an idea for my next YUW class.
I eat my tasty breakfast while watching the birds out near the ocean. I’m giggling out loud as their skinny little legs tip toe toward the ocean line – and then scurry away from the water as a wave comes in.
Silvia, Casey, and Erika go on a photo shoot adventure with me. I am trying to make myself excited – but I am much better in the seat of photographer than model. I start in a door frame where Silvia has me trying to almost do splits against the door. Not sure what I am doing or how anything looks – but I am trying! We walk up to a little spot overlooking the beach, and I attempt to do wheel on a ledge. Casey glances over the ledge and looks skeptical. I give her the thumbs up and press myself up into wheel. The ledge is thinner than I would like. Struggling to hold as I hear the cameras clicking. Try to come down slowly but end up rolling to one side as Casey lets out a squeal. All is well. I am alive. We have avoided another injury on Alchemy Tours!
We trudge through more water and I try doing boat on a boat, some warriors and yada yada. Silvia somehow talks me into strange poses I wasn’t aware I could even get into – but somehow it works. It’s slightly gray and drizzly. I’m reminded a bit of Seattle. This is the weather I’ve grown up in and I actually love it.
We end the photo shoot by playing around with some acro on the beach. Now have sand in scalp, hair, ears, bra, and down butt. Good. Nothing like some sweet sandy cheeks! We have a good selection of photos and I am grateful for the support.
I come back way too hungry since I ate a little breakfast and am pleased to see a delicious spread of corn soup, wraps, and salad. After a quick lunch Jake leads a small group of us into town where he teaches us about tequila. He is very knowledgeable and most of it goes right over my head, but I’m trying to pay attention as I try to hide the sour faces that arise as I taste the tequila.
I walk back and snap some photos in town on my way. A little Mexican man offers me a ride on his ATV as he passes me up the hill. But my mom flashes in my head and her disapproval of ATVs leads me to decline the invite.
I find Patti in the lobby who returns my laptop back to me. I take ninety nine steps back up to my bungalow, and begin to pack. I don’t want to. But I know I’ll be thankful I did this tomorrow morning.
Making this transition will be challenging – but I know and feel that I am ready. I came here with questions 1) Who am I? 2) Where am I going? 3) What am I doing? 4) Why am I here? I don’t think I have a one sentence answer for those questions – but I know.
I feel like right now I am learning. I am a student in many palces beyond UW. I also feel like I need to commit to either teaching yoga, or managing YUW. I physically do not have the time and energy for both of those on top of being a student and having a job or internship and what not. I feel that I would prefer to teach yoga, and am ready to pass YUW on to a new leader when the time is right. I want to find a way to convince UW to allow me to use some of my study in yoga as credit toward a minor. Right now I just want to focus on learning, and teaching.
The road block I run into is that part of me does believe that my dharma is to serve as a leader to my community – which is the UW right now. I excel in leadership positions, but it also wares me down. I have a contrasting personality and talent. I am introverted by nature – yet I am my best when I am a leader. But it’s draining for me. I get major anxiety before teaching a class. Then during the class I feel totally awesome and in my element. Then I finish teaching and feel wiped out. I have even gotten sick after the past two times I taught.
In our final class this evening we played around with more Acro fun. My legs are nearly fried from the photo shoot – but I am able to pop a few more people up into the air.
For dinner we finish the evening with tortilla soup, fish and rice, and the famous chocolate cake. I don’t even normally like chocolate but the occasion for me to be able to eat cake is so rare. How awesome is it that he uses tofu in the cake? The frosting is simply soy milk and dark chocolate. Simply delicious.
I’m not used to eating dinner this late, and my tummy starts to scold me for eating past 8. Part of me wants to try to stay up later for the last night – and the other part of me knows I won’t have time to get this much sleep when I return home. I strap on my little headlamp and head upstairs for one last sweet night of sleep in my princess bed. I wake up at 4:00am and hear the rain pounding on our roof. I feel nauseous and curl myself into the tightest little ball possible hoping this won’t last. I have a flashback memory of my 16 hour flight back from India after getting food poisoning. Please. Never again.
Saturday – February 11th, 2012
Last hoorah!! I force myself out of bed and try to convince myself that maybe a little yoga this morning will help my tummy calm down. It does a little bit. I keep hugging in my knees and telling myself that I am not getting sick. This usually works.
We wrap up our final class with the 7th Chakra, or the Crown Chakra – Sahasrara. It is located at the top (or crown) of our heads, and associated with the Pituitary gland. The element of the 7th CHakra is wight light or thought and the color is violet or white. Physiologically it functions in the muscular system, skeletal system, skin and central nervous system. The affirmation of this Chakra is “Thy will be done. Love surrounds, nourishes, and protects me” It is linked to god/goddesses, the creator, search for purpose and meaning in life, discovering ethics, unconditional love, symbolic vision, and ultimate liberation. When out of balance we me feel disconnected from meaning or purpose, migraines, chronic exhaustion, and sensitive to light and sound. Negativity may also form in the thought process of there is “no point to life”, why should I, nothing matters, what’s the point in anything – there is no hope.
Class is a beautiful flow of repetition mixed with “do what feels good”. We snap a couple group photos, and I am able to eat a kiwi for breakfast without feeling too sick.
I am never good at goodbyes. Even though half of these people I don’t have to officially say “goodbye” to. I have to say goodbye to this place, group, and setting where all of us were transformed in some way – big or small.
The morning moves quickly with the chaos of packing, checking out, and trying to say goodbye to people before I leave. The weather is bad today, so we are leaving an hour earlier to make sure we get to the airport on time and safely. I’m more than okay with this plan.
On the boat ride to the airport I am very quiet. Partially because I still feel nauseous, but mostly because I’m just reflecting.
I’m thinking to myself – I would love to lead some kind of retreat like this. But focus it on karma yoga. I have a vision of embarking out with a group of college students trying to find their way – and volunteering in the community environmentally or with the people. For me, a lot of times volunteering and doing things for others is a great catalyst to help jumpstart understanding what it is I want to do. What it is that is important to me. Perhaps this is one of my next steps.