This post is written by Kay, who recently found relief from a chronic headache at a Yoga Nurture Retreat. She’s since been back several times.
“Inside that lit stillness
we drank in the swelling breath that would
unfold on its own for months.”
from “Quiet of the Mind” by Naomi Shihab Nye
An acquaintance of mine recently returned from a two-week overseas trip that most of us would consider a dream vacation. When I asked her about it, she said, “Well, it was really nice, but I’m just so tired. We all got pretty cranky because we just had so much to do, and we had so many friends to buy things for, and it just was so stressful.”
But isn’t that the way many of us—and by “us” I mean Americans—live our lives? We tend to plan events so that we can “check in” on Facebook, take pictures, and say we were there. Sometimes we’re so focused on taking the picture that we forget to actually experience the thing we’re photographing. Once our event is thoroughly photographed and Facebooked, we move on to plan the next one.
The lines quoted above come from a beautiful poem about enjoying a moment and letting it carry you through months of everyday life and stress. It’s easier said than done.
When my friend and coworker Terry and I registered for the Yoga in the Pines Retreat, we knew we wanted an introspective, peaceful experience, but we weren’t sure how to get it. Our husbands had sent us off with “You deserve it!” and “Take some time for yourself!” and “Don’t forget to take a great book!” We expected time to relax and practice yoga, but I don’t think we expected the slow steady sense of calm that would suffuse us.
Shortly after Terry and I arrived at Yoga in the Pines, we visited Theresa’s wonderful little boutique. Almost immediately we spotted a shirt (which I bought!) with the words “today matters” printed on it. We resolved to adopt that as our mantra and use it when we got back to work and things got a little crazy. And so far, it’s working!
Throughout the weekend, Terry and I drank in the swelling breath of so many things: camaraderie with our fellow yogis, wonderful family style meals prepared by our yoga host and teacher, focus on our yoga practice, new friendships, solitude, literature, walks in the woods, moments on the porch swing, delight of a spunky little dog named Zoe, and the smell of pine trees.
Drinking in that swelling breath reminded us to attend to all the things that matter in our lives. We intend to hold that breath in as long as we can, releasing it bit by bit through the coming months. It helps to know that before that breath completely “unfolds on its own” and we forget that “today matters,” we can come back to Yoga in the Pines and inhale again.