As I’ve mentioned in previous writings, I love watching people transform during our retreats. . I usually get just a peek at these, and I am hopeful that they last forever, but even in the tiny glimpse to which I’m honored to witness, an amazing thing happens.
There are all kinds of people who attend, male and female, young and old…and all kinds of transformations which occur. For the purpose of this writing, I’ll focus on one type of person. She is a very strong and capable business woman, and nothing is undone…hair, dress, jewelry, make-up. She is such a lovely woman, and so empowered. She may or may not have done yoga before or traveled to a retreat environment, and oftentimes, this is her first experience of the kind. The first thing she does upon arrival, is find the wi-fi information and make sure she is connected. She checks emails, answers phone calls….
Day two, she assesses the lay of the land, gets familiar with mealtimes and yoga schedules. She’s a bit nervous about keeping up with others in yoga, and how silly she might look to others. She has figured out where she can get her ‘other’ exercise, or ‘other’ relaxation, or ‘other’ food. Satisfied with the knowledge that she CAN still have these things, she starts to decompress. The environment is constructed for just this purpose.
By mid-week, she has stopped going to lengths to ‘do’ her hair. She still fixes it for a night out, but otherwise she makes do with something simpler in the heat and humidity, without putting in a lot of effort. She has stopped wearing make up, except maybe on our fun night in the village. She is happy to sit next to almost anyone from the group, most of whom she has known for only a handful of days, and happily carry on a conversation. She laughs, she dances~ she is cutting loose and forgetting all about those emails and phone calls. She has fun! So much fun. She flings her sandals over her shoulders and walks home in the sand, under the light of the moon.
As the week ends, I notice the color in her cheeks the way she greets everyone else, with such an open heart and open arms. I see what was previously a forced smile become a beatific, relaxed smile, peaceful and serene. I see a new kind of strength. The kind that comes from being vulnerable. The kind that comes from BEING.
At the closing circle at the end of the week, there are tears in her eyes. She speaks about letting go of this and making a commitment to that. She is focused on taking care of herself, something she hasn’t allowed in a long time, if ever. The tears result because she is speaking her truth. She is allowing others to see her, in a way that is not usual in her daily life. She and others talk about healing and bonding and acceptance and love.
I am moved, deeply, to see her connection to wi-fi and her cell phone be replaced by a much deeper, beautiful, and lasting connection with herself. She feels she may live or work in an environment that doesn’t speak to her true nature. Here, she has found her tribe. She belongs. She realizes she can take this feeling with her, wherever she may go.