by Angela Clark
Often times, when one steps away from their daily routine to go on retreat a lot of emotions get involved. We get excited or anxious, as well as scared when there is no idea what to expect.
We pack our bags, say good-bye to our loved ones, and set out for our journey. Sometimes the ride is smooth and sometimes we get stuck at the Newark airport for an extra five hours, but once we reach our destination we begin to feel a sense of accomplishment. One gets the feeling they have begun to open a door they had no idea existed within.
The first few days are always the hardest. While we could be in a beautiful place, with scenic views of water and volcanoes, we are still in unfamiliar territory and the nervous system knows that. And, if we are on a yoga retreat where we are practicing four and a half hours a day, the physical demands on the body can be quite grueling.
We have to remind ourselves to walk with an inquisitive mind in this unknown territory, both literally and figuratively. As we do our surroundings start to unfurl, butterflies begin to appear, unique flowers show their faces, and long buried dreams or ideas begin to step forward. “Beautiful and grotesque”, a phrase I am fond of, comes to mind. It can be quite overwhelming and what helps us manage the ebb and flow is the fact that we have retreated ourselves away to a place built with the intention of holding and healing. We are cradled in the warmth of the sun and fed by the grounds we walk upon.
As one begins to acknowledge the many facets of themselves, the need for change can begin to dissolve into the quality of acceptance and by the ending days of the retreat. An exhaustion of sheer beauty takes place to allow everything to just be as it is, with the wisdom to know that things will change without our effort.
It sometimes feels as though you have been put through the wringer. But, if we can remember how fresh and clean our clothes are when we wash them, we can see the joy in what is to come as we let ourselves dry off from the detox of emotions that once ruled our mind.
And then you find yourself landing back home – perhaps with a sense of sadness for leaving a beautiful spot filled with so much transformation and so many new friends. But we can also see that the small crack of the door when we first arrived has been blown wide open and we understand that the joy and beauty is not in a remote place but with us always; it is beautiful because we see beautiful.