Home from retreat. The strings of lights on the Christmas tree are still waiting to be taken down. There is still an icy driveway to negotiate. And even though she will return to Peru this week, the signs of daughter Molly everywhere as she has settled in and claimed her place here at home are still here too. Nora still smells of popcorn, and making the morning fire in the wood stove still holds the same magic for me. It is a home that is familiar in every way and yet the home in me that lived here two weeks ago has changed…
Retreat is so powerful. Not unlike what happens when retreating in battle, it creates space for a different outcome. It offers the opportunity to see and take in something completely new. It challenges firmly entrenched patterns and can offer support for accessing the awareness to shift.
After years of honoring the space of retreat in my life, taking two whole weeks still seemed extravagant this year. I knew upon leaving after one week of this same yoga and meditation retreat in St. John last year that I would sign up for the two weeks this year. So I had a year to prepare in obvious ways financially and physically. What I didn’t realize was this preparation also included a psychic gathering of core beliefs that continue to shape my experiences, beliefs that I would have such a clear opportunity to consider once I began moving to the healing rhythms of the retreat.
The eco-village of Concordia is located on the southeast end of the island at Salt Pond Bay.
Spectacular views from sunrise to sunset are simply part of the daily rhythm of moving up and down the many levels of stairs that allow access to the permanent tents providing accommodation.
Here the waters of the Caribbean flow around Rams Head point and find their way into a beautifully shaped cove complete with a white sand beach that can be accessed via a short trail through captivating native woods. Last year it was a daily trek to this beach, being with the sand and sun, eventually bridging the gap to plunge into the warm liquid and then hours of floating in center of the magical waters flowing into the cove that became a kind of still point in my mind for what to return to.
And I wasn’t disappointed this year. After each morning of meditation and yoga classes the pull to these waters continued to be there and even if drawn to a different activity for the afternoon, I could still commune with them from the village at different times of the day. These waters became the backdrop for all the unfolding and ‘unravelling’ that we were being gently led to each day in practices.
The path of my unravelling this year took me to some wonderful and unexpected places. Most poignant was seeing clearly my firmly held belief that retreat into the sacred place of ‘me’ could only be truly experienced in moments of solitude yielding to an equally nourishing place of experiencing and knowing sacred ‘me’ in community at the same time. The belief in the separateness that has kept me from fully embracing and owning both my chosen solitude and my extroverted social way simply dissolved in the flow that kept bringing me back to salt and sun and undulating uninterrupted resonance with the water each day.
Of course this couldn’t have happened without the support of so many beautiful souls to share my experiences with both on and off the mat each day. I am so grateful to each and every open presence encountered, grateful for being able to feel the infinite core of strength inside me that supports every breath I take, grateful for each and every moment of laughter, grateful for being able to yield to so much fun, and grateful for being able to even allow tears that could join with the beloved waters of the sea.
So I have come home. Again. Smile. Home to a world of white and swirling snow this morning that has driven us all inside for a different kind of retreat, and yet, for me right now the warm salty fluid and cold frozen fluid are simply one and the same. One form draws us out, one form draws us in. It is a continuum….