There have been many times in my life, probably most, where I’ve approached things with a heart that is at least partially closed. Last weekend I went on my first yoga retreat in honor of my old yoga teacher’s fiftieth birthday. When I initially got asked, I hesitated, it was way outside my comfort zone; 2 days of yoga feels like a lot (and a few aching muscles now attest to that!) and I didn’t know anyone else who was going.
However, I felt it would be lovely to see Yogamurti again and honor her birthday so decided to give it a go. Since it was outside my comfort zone, I decided the best thing was to approach it with an open heart, what I got out of it was so much more thanks to the people who were there.
We were an eclectic bunch, no one really knew each other, and some – like me – had never been on a retreat before. For those who are unaware, yoga is a practice of mind, body and spirit, so lots of exercise and meditative practices. I’ve never really been attracted to the old Eastern mystical practices in any depth but it certainly brings you to a quiet centre of stillness and helps you take a broader view of life.
So in that context we came together, all getting to know one another, seeking connection and validation as part of a newly formed group. What a wonderful group it was. Over the weekend I got to see some amazing strengths and traits in the people around me, and could see the vulnerabilities too. Through sharing their stories, I could feel how hurt some felt inside.
I could also appreciate the rising strength that comes in women as their children are grown and they start to look at themselves and their lives from a different vantage point. One lady was recounting a new role she had taken on. Having been in her profession for many years, there is a constant pressure for her to take the lead in critical circumstances.
I loved the way she told the story, for over the years she has been in many other similar situations and felt obligated to take the lead, taking a toll on her own health. As much as she loves the care she can provide in critical situations, her role is very much a supporting one and she has no desire to take the lead. So now she just says “Nah”. Perfect, I wonder how much more we could say that to.
There was another lady I met who was such a joyful soul, very capable in her arena. After many years in a role she loved, she had been bullied out of it by a newcomer to the scene who obviously had more than a few issues going on. She still carries the hurt from the dishonor she feels, although she is now running a different company with exciting prospects ahead.
I could feel the hurt, and I suggested that she do something to honor herself to start to heal it. It’s always interesting to look at why we bring situations into our life, perhaps she needed more than a small nudge to open up to this new opportunity. Perhaps it played out in a similar way to other people or events from her earlier years; this is common to all of us.
The universe sends us subtle messages and they get louder and louder in their discomfort until we are listening.
Another lady is preparing to carry a baby, yet there is something going on in resistance to that. She knows what it is, perhaps not consciously, but she’s tuning in and letting the resistance go. When we have held our body at bay for so many years, sometimes we have to start to gently coax it to strip away the layers we have built up.
Such awesome people. A bubbly lady of amazing stature, outgoing yet with a hint of holding back, some uncertainty. Her hair cut and styled to just help her hide away a little. This is someone I think who is coming into herself. She’s giving up her practice that she has run for many years and pondering on the deliciousness of the variety life has to offer her. Everything points to the sun coming out from behind the clouds.
It was a lovely experience of just being able to be with people, to see their wholeness and to focus on the wellbeing that is there, even if it has popped behind the clouds in their world for a while. Reminding others that their sun shines whether they feel it in that very moment or not was so rewarding. It was a reminder to me of the same, and I felt its warmth.
It was also a great reminder that the most rewarding moments in our life are those when our hearts are open. Applying this in our day to day lives can be a challenge when we feel overwhelmed, but remember that happens as a result of the thoughts in our head, pressure we are putting on ourselves. In essence, our clouds are self generated; we feed them with our thoughts and bad feelings.
Lift yourself above the clouds, think of your problems as details on the ground, the further you are from them, the less significant they seem. Take the broader view of your life; think about the thing that is most important – your happiness. Like the people here, you are not broken, you are whole. Open your heart and I promise it will fill up.
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