Grateful Monday today I’m grateful for being a student again. I’ve just finished ten days of a yoga and meditation retreat with the incredible shiva rea, here in beautiful costa rica. Before I came, knowing I would be exposed to some new things and pushed a little out of my comfort zone, I made a promise to myself that I would be open to these new experiences.
Over the course of the 10 days I had to remind myself of this promise on more than one occasion eg. Chanting at the full moon, or throwing rice into the fire getting up in front of 100 new faces and saying why I was there, trance dancing sober, doing 3 hour daily yoga sessions, eating fake meat but it was actually these new experiences that I ended up loving the most. (apart from the fake meat).
Coming from a culture where to dance in public is never without liquid aides, it was at first little uncomfortable but I ended up loving it so much I was sad when the music finally stopped wondering how I could get away doing this on my upcoming return home to nz and convince others to follow suit!
I loved being a student again and putting myself in guests shoes and experiencing the process they go through like the anticipation and vulnerability felt at the start with many questions and self doubt arising like can I do this? Will my body allow me to do all of this? Will everyone be better at yoga than me? Will they like me? This fear was soon replaced by heart warming recognition that there are so many like minded souls and essentially we are all the same and want the same things peace, happiness, joy and to be free of suffering. The rhythm of retreat enables the process of letting go and getting out of the head and just purely focussing on your heart and surrendering to it all.
I love the flavor of retreats which can be probably described best as positivity, honest, mask free, true, getting back to your shoes off self and regaining some of that childhood innocence and wonder. On retrthe masks are dropped, people are focussed on kindness to themselves and one another, compassion, without judgement – it creates a wonderful nurturing environment and is probably why friendships are formed so easily and you get to know people quickly and well. It’s lovely to be enveloped in that. It mad me think of our retreats at surf haven and how I love observing the softening, opening of our guests as they transform in this environment feeling bit frazzled when they arrive from their busy lies so transparent on their faces then day be day this being replaced by softness, smiles and finally a beautiful (surf haven!) sparkle.
There were some ups and downs, some days my body just said no! And my mind resisted like a child not wanting to go to class. Sore hips from surfing to 3 hours of daily yoga, to the long beach walks to get to surfing and broken sleep from the sweet but noisy howler monkeys that loved sitting outside my window probably smelling the bunch of bananas I kept on hand to tie me over between meals, through to craving non vegan food at times dreaming of bacon while in morning meditation and sighing when I saw the fake meat again qvp through to letting off a red red paper lantern on new years eve shaped in heart to symbolize new year of love and my one refused to lift off instead making a quick abort into the fire!!
However these moments were brief and i recognised were a necssary part of the process of change. What I loved were the small moments, surfing next to a dog down at the beach, getting lost in nature marveling at all the wildlife, amazing sunrises and sunsets, clearing my mind in the stillness of morning meditation and switching off the chatter, whilling away lazy afternoons with others talking about life over a cold coconut juice and the feeling of peace, lightness and ease. The pay off – genuine smiles, a spring in my step, feeling of calmness and lightness, a truer sense of self, less of harsh self critique, beautiful new friends and a renewed sense of confidence that can only come when we take those life challenges and step outside our comfort zone. I plan on being a guest more often and now as I head back to nz shores for some summer fun with my friends, I just need to figure out a way to bring trance dance to nz!
Love Jen xx
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