This post is written by Beki who attended a Yoga Nurture Retreat in May 2011.
I just turned 50 years old this past May. As a gift to myself for my 50th birthday, I went on a weekend long yoga retreat to Retreat in the Pines in late May. One of my dear friends, who also happens to be my best yoga buddy, went on the weekend retreat with me. I think this weekend yoga retreat is probably the best gift I have ever given to myself.
I could go on and on about the food (delicious), the setting (beautiful), the weather that weekend (perfectly gorgeous), my time in the hammock in the woods looking up at the blue sky through the pine trees (sublime), and the yoga classes (just right). But what has stayed with me is not what I took away from the experience, but rather what I left behind.
After two days of yoga and relaxation, on the final morning of our retreat, Theresa, our host and yoga instructor, led the group of 12 or 13 women who had gathered there in a final relaxation session. The breeze was cool, and as the sun came out and warmed our bodies, it also intensified the aroma of the pine trees surrounding us. Theresa skillfully took us a through a beautiful and meaningful guided relaxation. More specifically, she led us through an exercise of putting down our struggles and worries, even if just for a little while. And then, as the final thought, as if it were the climax of the entire weekend, she began to talk about opening our hearts to kindness, and in particular, being kind to ourselves. I was surprised to find tears on my face. Then I noticed that my yoga buddy was also crying, and I saw other women around me wiping away tears, too. Theresa and I talked about this phenomenon… this “aha moment” we all seemed to have, later that morning. She said to me that often, as women, we give so much of ourselves to others, but we forget how to be kind and loving to ourselves.
I was in a particularly tumultuous (for me) mid-life crisis at the time, and heavy into empty nest syndrome. My children had grown up and left home, my parents were aging, my role in life was changing, and I wasn’t sure in which direction I should head. I had been working on being kind to myself, and continue to work on that today. Sitting on the deck of the yoga studio on that beautiful Texas morning last May, I found some peace, some forgiveness, and some kindness – all for myself. And I am happy to say that I left a trainload of baggage in the East Texas Piney Woods. I have to believe that most of us have some baggage that we would like to put down and leave behind. I don’t think I am unusual or special in this way.
I am now on a new adventure and going in a new life direction… at least for a few months. I have always wanted to keep goats, and I have always wanted to learn to surf. I am now working, for six months, as an intern at a goat dairy in Hawaii. Yes, I have been surfing, and, yes, I am learning about goats. What’s more – and, I think, more important — I am learning SO MUCH about myself every single day. My husband (the most supportive spouse on the planet) is holding down the fort in Dallas while I take this time to explore something completely different. I am a very lucky person to have this opportunity. I started writing a blog about it as a way of keeping my friends and family up to date, but also as a creative outlet and a way to journal the whole experience. Read about my experiences.
I plan to return to Yoga in the Pines for another yoga retreat next spring, when I am back on the mainland. I will not be picking up that old baggage I left behind there last May. My brother, a wise and clever fellow, recently told me that I should “be like the airlines and lose my baggage!” If I am lucky, there will be even more tears and forgiveness, and the chance to let even more joy in my life.
Aloha, Mahalo, and Namaste.
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