Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Keeping the Retreat Alive

You’ve just spent 7 days of bliss in a magical place, enjoying great food, the perfect structure and balance between activity and reflection. You’ve nourished yourself with healthy local food. You’ve meditated, journaled or whatever it is that grounds you to your Big S self. You’ve re-prioritzed your life and are ready to make some much needed changes. You’ve Retreated! And you feel amazing!

Now what?

As you start to pack and get ready for the journey home, you may feel some waves of anxiety, nervousness. You may have already started to check your email, and experience a crushing weight of your previous life. You may feel pulled to respond to the “same old same old” in the “same old same old.”

Over the years, I’ve learned that integration and preparation for re-entry is an important aspect of the Retreat Experience. Here are some quick tips to help you smooth that transition into your “normal” life, and support your “new, post-retreat” normal. 

  1. Remember that your family and friends have had time away from you as well. Approach them from the present moment instead of expecting them to behave the same way they always do. And if you are returning to partners and/or children, know they probably missed you! 
  2. Get real with your unspoken expectations about what you want when you get back. Are you expecting your partner to have cleaned the house and made a fantastic spa meal for you? Maybe they are expecting the same from you! Communicate with each other and maybe opt to go out to dinner or get take out so no one has to cook and you can spend the time enjoying each other.
  3. Ask your partner or family what they did while you were away. You may want to share all of your amazing experiences, but you might also want to keep them private for awhile until you digest. Let the conversation be more about them.
  4. Dare to change. What one concept are you ready to incorporate into your life? Get honest with how much time you can give to this newness so you don’t feel overwhelmed. If it’s 5 minutes, then 5 minutes it is! You can stretch for 5 minutes, close your eyes and watch your breath for 5 minutes, journal, read, stare at the clouds. Let this be your new practice to connect yourself to your Self.
  5. What one thing can you do to remember how you felt? It might be “look at a flower” or “see the differences in others without judgement.” It might be “drink more tea and less coffee” or “eat fruit.” Connect to that when you start to feel overwhelmed. Choose Retreat moments as part of your day!
  6. Take the “listening” challenge. Instead of having to fix, change, or judge somethng, just listen. Then walk away. Retreat. You can always share your pearls of wisdom at another time. 

So keep your commitment to yourself! You went on a retreat for a reason. Give yourself a Retreat each day, by giving yourself the time and space to remember that you are worth the time and space of a retreat experience. Every day.

Monday, July 15, 2019

Advance to Retreat

In a world where the idea of “Advance! Advance! Advance!” is highly valued, it can be hard to justify the idea of Retreat. In many scenarios, retreat means defeat. But this programming may no longer be serving us, and it is clearly not in service of our Wholeness and Balanced Life. In our rapidly changing and tumultuous times, it is important to ask the question, “how can I recognize both masculine and feminine energies in myself and use them in a more balanced way?”

Part of the inspiration for our upcoming “Yoga for Your Heart” Bali Retreat, came from the lush Balinese land. We felt our own hearts melt as we gazed upon the beauty and asked, “What does Bali have to share with us?” We felt a strong presence of the Divine Feminine energy. Her voice, the voice of the Mother. This voice, that comes through both men and women, is a voice of nourishment, of receptivity, of listening, of waiting, of reflecting. Of Retreating. And not just because its on your “to do” list.

As a High Type A, I grew up in a family where productivity was valued and rewarded. The masculine energy was valued over the feminine. (I grew up in a family of only women, so this had nothing do with gender.) Taking breaks or time to reflect was not valued.  In fact, taking a break implied “lazy,” “unproductive,” “weak” and “less than.” I worked myself into the ground which took a toll on my health, my attitude, and my relationships. I knew there had to be another way to be in the world.

I started to ask myself, “what would happen if I did less?”  News flash. The sun came up the next day. And by “retreating,” I gave others a chance to shine. Over the years, I became more fully committed to finding ways to lead with my Divine Feminine instead of only my Divine Masculine. I felt my heart soften. I felt my creativity increase. I felt the need to do, to fix, to change diminsh. I started to re-prioritize my health, healing, and well-being, which fed every single area of my life. I began to feel a balance in my life. 

I have never once regretted going on a retreat. Retreating is a conscious carving out of time to step off of your current hamster wheel and see the world of your life through a different lens. Retreats give us an opportunity to nourish ourselves physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. During a retreat, we give ourselves the time and opportunity to digest life lessons so that we can assimilate these “nutrients” and enhance or make changes in areas of our life that need nuturing, re-evaluation, or attention. 

As we experience and embrace the softening that is more accessible during a retreat, we begin to organically build an inner strength and confidence. We are less concerned with what others think of our choices and decisions. We “retreat” inward, listening to our own inner voice of Truth. We begin to feel more comfortable with receptivity and listening. Divine Feminine. And there is a huge power in listening without needing to immediatlly act on that information. 

As we emerge from this receptive place of retreat, we are fully charged and focussed. We don’t need to mindlessly spin our energy around, “showing” others how hard we are working, and thus, how deserving we are of accolades and attention. Instead, we efficiently choose where to put our energy.  And at the end of the day, we have some left over to enjoy a time of retreat, either by our selves, with loved ones, in nature, or something else. “Retreat” is no longer  a “crash and burn” response to constantly “advancing.” “Retreat” is now part of a balanced life. We can now move from a place of balance and choice as we understand both Feminine and Masculine energies inside of us. We can both Advance and Retreat. 

Join Jean Mazzei and Brenna Geehan this October and discover more about your Divine Feminine and Divine Masculine in Yoga For Your Heart in Bali.

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Just because I'm good at it...

As I am now less than a month away from changing decades, I thought to myself as I got up this morning, July 4, what does it mean for me to be free? What do I want to be free from? What keeps me in prison? And although there are many answers and levels to those questions, the answer of the moment was around self-imposed oblilgation. 

One of the richest realizations that I had recieved a few months before we went to India, was that “just because I’m good at something, doesn’t mean I want to do it.” And as I applied this teaching to myself, I started seeing all the ways that I would feel obligated to do X, Y, Z just because I was good at it, and hey, "if you want something done right, do it yourself! "

Wow! Living from that place was a breeding ground for resentment, and let’s just say I popped out a few litters! I dove deeper into this idea, and began to gain awareness on how subtly and not so subtly this self imposed “obligation” was a bully, a tyrant, in the country of Jean. I had to let go of the need to having it “done right.”  Also the need of having it done “on time.” Also the need of having it done at all! I had to grow a big set of Patience and allow others to learn what was “easy” for me. I had to watch them not get it right all the time. And not get it done. And I had to learn how to communicate with them through the process. All this took a lot more time and energy than if I had just done it myself. 

Or did it?

What was the price I paid for always doing something just because I was good at it? Did these things come “naturally” or had I just had more time in on the project? And was it “easy” for me? Execution may have been easy, but living in the resentment/disappointment pond was NOT!  Living in the past and future was NOT! Feeling exhausted at the end of the day because I had put all these self-imposed obligations created in the past in front of living in my New Now in the present was NOT EASY! 

As I backed away and said NO to doing the things that were “easy” for me, things that I had a habit of doing "just because," I had to back away from resentment, disappointment and stress. And when these have had your back for awhile, it can feel kind of weird to not have them holding you up. But just like a butterfly emerges from self-created confinement, drying new wings in the sun can feel pretty great. Also, as those wings are drying, pre-flight, it’s a nice feeling to not know what’s coming next. I don’t have to be good at something to want to experience it. I don’t have to get good at something to enjoy it. I don’t have to get good at something and then be stuck doing it the rest of my life. 

So one of the things I’m freeing myself from is the self-imposed obligation of having to do things just because I’m good at them. At one time, doing some of those things felt good. It gave me a sense of peace and accomplishment. It gave me a container to grow and evolve. It gave me a sense of who I was. But that's who I WAS. And look in the mirror. It's a different face now. 

Freedom for me means choice. Choosing the what’s right for me. And being OK with not knowing what that is. Freedom to discover my Self in the present moment after all these years. Being OK with where I am, right here, right now. In other words, loving myself, just as I am, without condition. That’s freedom.

Thursday, July 4, 2019

Freedom Fighter

What does it mean to be a “freedom fighter?” What does it mean to “gain independence?” Do we even want independence? Maybe we want connection?

So what does it mean to be a “Freedom Fighter?” Being a freedom fighter means someone who will fight for freedom. For me, it’s not about bullying someone or some situation into submission. It’s not about showing power. It’s not about proving worth. It’s about “fighting” or overriding habits, constructs, attachments. Acknowledging that at one time, these habits, attachments, constructs were supports to that provided a “safe container”  for us to grow and evolve. And over time, like clothes, we outgrow them. The "safe container" can become a "prison."

When we feel locked inside a tyrannical container, whether it be our country’s pre-July 4, 1776 container, or the container we created for ourselves, it’s time to do what it takes to break free. Does it mean destroying the cocoon, or finding a way out of it so we can both exist? Does it mean preaching or beating someone into submission until they see you as the one who “Knows” or has “Power?”  Is my freedom based on someone else’s submission to my needs/wants/truth? 

I think Freedom is knowing yourself well enough to take responsibility for one’s choices, emotions, health, thoughts, actions, non-actions. And the freer I am, the freer we all can be, because my freedom is no longer contingent on the behavior or beliefs of someone else. And that is worth fighting for. And figuring out what it means to “fight.” As we move towards more equality and equanimity, we may still “fight” our way out of our prisons, but in the process, we will find that in order to truly be free, we may need to re-frame what it means to “fight” and understand that we are really only ever fighting ourselves. As Dennis Adams says, “It’s never outside of yourself.” And as hard as that can be to swallow or even grok, it applies. And what I’m really fighting is my own resistance to change. My own attachments. My need to have life “just so.” 

Being a freedom fighter means I am willing to see more choices. I am willing to choose another route. I am willing to wait. I am willing to act. I am willing to embrace or walk away. I am willing to say yes or no. I am willing to not know. I am willing to evolve independently of others, yet alongside of others. For me, freedom is being able to evolve myself as you evolve yourself. And one of the gifts of this freedom is that we can witness each other's evolution and learn from each other. 

Independence Day. Connection Day. Freedom is having both at the same time. 

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Friendly Competition

As you may know about me, I love me some wordplay. And I love to muse and ponder about colloquial phrases that we use, often without thinking about what we are really saying, meaning, or avoiding. 

Yesterday, I took a break from activity and watched TV yesterday for the first time in a long time. I was surprised at how the "friendly competition" idea seemed to be everywhere (conflict is the stuff of good plots after all!) and I didn't experience any of it as friendly. (and no, i wasn't watching reality shows!). Whether spoken or unspoken, competition seemed to be part of the War model - where there is a winner and a loser. And once we put competition in motion, there is going to be a winner and a loser. And who likes to lose? What does it mean to be a "good loser?" 

I've heard that a little competition is "good for us" in that it helps us better ourselves. It helps us go further, faster, than we normally would. This in an of itself poses some interesting questions: Why do we need something else to "push" us? Why is it about the external motivator? Is it because at some level we don't believe in ourselves? Is it because at some level we are constantly comparing ourselves to those around us and measuring our selves, our successes, our failures in relationship to our externals?

So this "friendly competition" - is it really friendly? When we look at  how many likes we get on Facebook, or how many comments or reactions we get on whatever other social media outlet we use, when does it feel friendly? And if I'm "friends" with all these people, why wouldn't I just "Like" (or love or react), in other words acknowledge, every single comment or photo?

What I started thinking about was how we defend this model of competition, making it OK, and even desirable. We justify our need to see things as greater than or less than by smiling and saying things like - "a little friendly competition is good for you." Why not just say "competition is good for you"? Why not just call it "competition?" If we do it in a "friendly" way, it's OK? And is it? There is still a winner and a loser. And if we are ok with winners/losers and survival of the fittest, than no problem! Let's just admit that we love a good fight and we are OK with someone else going down as we rise up! What I question is the label of "friendly" which tells me there are some "good" and "bad" competitions. Are we sugar coating something to make the medicine go down a bit easier? To "elevate" our animal/survival instincts? Isn't competition just the act of competing? 

The definition of compete is to "strive to gain or win something by defeating or establishing superiority over others who are trying to do the same." And what is friendly about that?

Friday, March 30, 2018

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Rain Brings Reminders

When it rains, I am reminded of these things:

Stay  hydrated
Be fluid
Be aware of the presence of tears and let them flow
There are Masters present
Slow down
Slow down so you can see/hear/express more clearly
Things may be surprisingly slippery so pay attention
Wet things dry
There is light in the rain
There is power in water
It's a miracle
Nourish yourself
Stay hydrated