With the best of intentions I started my unexpected retreat in wine country. Every morning I would meditate, then do yoga, write, eat exquisitely well, take long nature hikes and allow Spirit to reveal to me the next steps on my journey. I figured this would be a transformational time and I knew it would be about love, but that’s about all I knew. Everything else was a mystery.
What I didn’t know is that what I needed first and foremost was rest. I was exhausted! Not just from all the packing, sorting, storing, and releasing that was required to prepare for the move (a much bigger than I anticipated!) More than this, I was tired from working hard, from being driven to live a fulfilled life.
I always found time to work, to meditate, to do yoga, to work out, to spend time with friends, to travel, to see my family, to do things I love like cook and garden and be in nature…yet much of that came out of place within me that believed that this is how I needed to live to live and fulfilled and inspired life.
Some of this was right on; I was doing what for me amounts to a fulfilled and inspired life. But at the same time I was seeing that part of my life was being lived from a belief that I wasn’t good enough and I drove myself to overcompensate for that belief. I also recognized that I was holding a belief that in order for the Universe to take care of me, I needed to work really, really hard. No wonder I was exhausted!
My first day in slow down mode was very sloooow. I could barely move and didn’t leave my sanctuary at all. I couldn’t. My body refused to move any faster than its slowest gear. I slept, drank tea, nourished myself with good food and slept some more. But my mind was still in fast gear, totally running amok. At some point I realized I had two choices: to either listen to and believe all the thoughts and comments that were arising in my head or to simply observe them. Things got a little blurry here; sometimes I watched and listened, other times I was totally caught up in them. And this went on for hours, that turned into days. And the great gift was that I got to see what was underneath my very busy life: the driving forces of anxiety and fear.
“The quieter you become, the more you can hear”
I don’t know who to credit with that quote but it is so true. My time in the vineyards of Dry Creek Valley have given me the space and opportunity to look at what is working for me in my life and what is holding me back from being my full, juicy, outrageous self.
Deep and lasting change doesn’t always come quickly and easily, at least not for me! I would, at times, make an agreement with myself to do something differently or intend to practice gratitude more fervently or be more mindful, and then I’d find myself slipping back into some old patterns that weren’t congruent with my intentions. But with a little prodding and inner encouragement I would course correct and find myself back on track.
Among the things I’ve learned during this time of retreat is to practice extreme compassion with myself and the understanding that forgiveness is a process. Forgiveness is not about condoning someone else’s behavior. In fact, it’s really not about the other person at all. Rather, it’s about setting yourself free so you can heal and be empowered enough to move on and free up space inside for things like love and joy.
I’ve also had to practice humility in graciously accepting the kindness of others. I discovered that I have friends who care about me dearly, who love me without me having to give anything in return except to be my most truest self. I know that the Universe or Spirit or God, whatever term you want to use, does care and love me and that Grace is available to us at all times, we just have to be open to it.
I am learning to live in the moment, to practice what Eckhart Tolle writes about in the Power of Now: While I may not know what will happen or where I’ll be 1, 2, or 6 months from now, as long as I stay focused, and keep trusting and listening to my inner guidance, I will be OK. And for right now in this moment, I am OK. In fact, I better than OK, I am thriving, I am happy and healthy and I am very, very blessed.