I’m back in the digital world after my 6 day yoga retreat, where I enjoyed a lovely detox from my smartphone. I also was nourished by the incredible vegan food, the natural beauty around me (Suan Sati, the name of the retreat center, means garden of mindfulness), and 4 hours of yoga and meditation a day.
There were challenges, for sure: my legs falling asleep in meditation, the bruises on the back of my arms from too much crow pose, the nights listening to the geckos sliding around the roof of my bamboo hut.
But the biggest challenge for me wasn’t the occasional cold shower or the ants using me as a playground during shivasana. It was all the feelings, desires, and fears that came flooding in during the stillness.
When my body is active doing chaturangas or tree pose, or I’m moving about from place to place, or even just in the artificial busyness of my old daily life, it’s easy to block out any type of deep pain for the most part.
And when that doesn’t work, there’s always a glass of wine or an hour scrolling through Insta or a workout that deadens my body to exhaustion.
But not at Suan Sati. I was faced with time, with deep awareness of my body and my mind, with thought-provoking experiences and journaling prompts.
I was also surrounded with the kind and open hearts of the staff, and of my fellow guests. By the freedom of being taken care of, with amazing food and no scheduling worries and hugs when I desperately needed them. By my intention to remain open this week to whatever came along, whether that was a nap with Jungle Cat or a didgeridoo sound healing session or the flood of pain my body and heart feel when I sit in an extended hip opening pose.
To be honest, I didn’t book this retreat to get this deep into my pain and my psyche and my fears. I was somewhere cold (Austria, maybe?) and a little concerned about being bored with 4 months of sobriety, and so I spontaneously booked this one because it was affordable and warm. At the time, that was all.
But by opening my heart, I got so much more (and I’m not just talking about getting my first Camel pose either, though that’s a great heart opener too).
I’m a little bit shattered still. There is a reason I avoid that darkness that lurks within me: it’s bleak, and it’s deep, and it’s full of shame and loathing too. Running away from it, or occasionally throwing myself headfirst into it like it’s a dark pool I could drown in, haven’t served me.
So the path I’m on right now is hard. It’s one of the hardest things I’ve done. I’d take a 12 hour ride on an old, unairconditioned Thai bus over this any day. But after my retreat, I feel like I can do it, like I need to do it.
And that feels a little freeing.