Wednesday, May 21, 2014

retreat (and listen)

If I were to identify the one constant yearning that tugs at my soul, it is for spaciousness. 

Naturally, my unconscious tendency is clutter.  Clutter or filling up. Filling up my time with activities; my mind with thoughts; my day with chatter; my table with projects; my bedside with books; and if I wasn't wearing these invisalign braces, I would be wanting to fill my mouth with nibbles. 

Moving towards quiet or spaciousness is an ongoing practice for me.  Filling up is all fine and good when it is balanced with emptying out and when the filling is done mindfully.

Last autumn I had a daily practice of sitting in my garden.  Not meditating, not journaling or drawing, not counting my breaths.  Just sitting and being.  Feeling the air on my skin, listening to the birdsong, attempting to be part of the landscape rather than a spectator or visitor moving through it.

The Power of Love Temple

This past weekend I had an opportunity to deepen that practice.  A friend who had recently moved out of state, returned for a visit.  She returned for a much needed "Hug Fest Retreat."  Gathering at a beautiful spot out in the country, seven of us came together for 26+ hours. It was a time to be with sisters (old and new) but also time to be with ourselves.

The first morning we each drew an oracle card for the weekend.  Appropriately, my card instructed me to Listen. A gentle but direct reminder for me to monitor my own talking.  Did I really need to hear what I already know?  My spiritual inspiration, Swami Kripalu, wisely said "Before speaking, consider whether it is an improvement upon silence." 

I've also understood that I need to empty myself of surface chatter - the rantings and ravings of my small self - so that I can hear the voice of my intuition, heart, and deeper self.  

But you know, sometimes the best guidance is also the most obvious.  A night in my tent reminded me I tend to over-complicate things.  Listen.  Listen to the wind blowing the rain fly. Listen to the barred owl call across the night sky.  Listen to the sounds of the night's residents scurrying about me (and thankfully, not joining me!) And at 5:45 am, I listened to the orchestra of birdsong that shook me wide awake.  Crows and jays, turkeys and cardinals, mockingbirds and finches, mourning doves and goodness knows what else loudly and emphatically declaring their place in that morning, in that field, and in that day. 

The performance lasted a good half hour before the volume knob was turned down.  Then only the neighboring cows added their coda of moos to the morning song. 

I listened to all of it and I experienced myself as one among many that night.  It was disquieting at first ... feeling myself out of place ... realizing that all too often my experience is one of separation rather than connection.  While this is the spiritual journey of Yoga, it is also what I believe is at the heart of our planet's environmental disaster: humankind believing itself to be apart from Nature.  

I don't want to live in this false dream of separation.  I want to honor connection. I want to honor my place in the vast web and I want to celebrate this gift - this life - of belonging.

I can do this by listening.  And by lifting my arms to connect and to receive.

All this from one weekend.  Filled with friends and nourishing food, I return to my home filled in a way that sustains and supports me, so that I may in turn support and feed those around me. 

The best food ... the best drink ... is infused with, and becomes, love and creative expression.

A little dragon infused water does provide a nice "kick" to one's energy. And so I go into my week, refueled, plugged in, and open to what may come my way.

Jai Bhagwani xo

(the traditional phrase would be Jai Bhagwan: I honor the Light within You. With my friends we use the feminine form of Bhagwan: Bhagwani. It is honoring divine as Mother/Sister/Daughter)



  1. that sounds like a weekend that stays with you - deep within your heart. beautiful

  2. i believe this is my call as listen. and i yearn for spaciousness too and do a fine job with the clutter ;)

    what an amazing retreat with your tribe. sustaining/supporting yourself so that you may turn and do that for those around you.
    yes, i am learning this.
    i am learning.
    i am listening.

  3. Loveliness, so good to for you! xoxo