I have just experienced three of the fullest days of my life thus far. They came on the heels of one of the busiest summers of my life thus far. I thought travel brought all the chaos to my schedule and originally, I was happy to be grounded for a bit. Then I decided to spend all my spare time launching a passion project to lay the foundation for a future retreat business. Now I know why they call them side "hustles".
I welcomed fall in last week, sharing within my social media community ways to usher it in with intention. I set my own: more nourishment of my body. I had once again let bad habits take over under the guise of busyness. We were ordering carryout far more often than I was cooking. It always catches up with me and I was feeling it in my body.
To help solidify these intentions, I decided to attend the three-day virtual fall equinox retreat within my online yoga studio. Hone my efforts and focus in on this one thing, I thought, and maybe it will be worth my time.
The theme of the retreat was "Coming Home" and echoed much of the content from last year's in-studio September lessons. Last fall was the first time I completed a monthly lesson within the BMS studio. I not only found a lot of magic in the yoga classes and worksheets, I truly embraced and embodied my fall intentions. I set intentions on writing and volunteering and carried out both. I knew what I was capable of but was still hesitant.
As a member, I was offered free access to the event, meaning I wasn't financially invested and had an out. Plenty of other excuses ran through my mind:
My parents are passing through so I'll miss most of Saturday...
How will I find the time if we're driving back and forth from Hamilton?
More screen time? Shoot me now.
This is going to feel nothing like a "real" retreat, much less the Bali one I'm missing!
The familiarity with the fall equinox lessons gave me yet another excuse to bail on the retreat. Nonetheless, I decided to embrace it, and asked my husband if we could hold off on driving to the land so that I could attend the opening ceremony Friday night. Our glitchy Wi-fi made the first call so unbearable I hopped off early, uncooperative technology affirming many of my fears.
The next morning, bleary-eyed after a late night drive to our property, I woke with the sun to enjoy some coffee and meditation before the morning session. I set up my Chromebook and yoga mat on the deck and settled in, fully expecting satellite internet to once again prevent me from participating. To my surprise, it held on. I immersed myself in the teachings and small group discussions. I had no idea I could feel like I was sitting in the same room with someone from the Netherlands on a Zoom call. My hard edges began to soften.
I thought the 108 sun salutations might kill me, but I made it through. And here's where it gets interesting. My Wi-fi dropped no less than ten times. The sequence was repetitive enough that it didn't matter that much, but amazingly, every time I came back online, I was right on cue with the group.
Our instructor encouraged us not to dive into a social media vortex on the break, so I went for a nature walk around our property. The theme of "coming home" really sank in as I envisioned the farmhouse we hope to build and retreat cottages where I want to host events just like the one I was attending. I followed the path down to see some purple wildflowers I'd spotted earlier that morning. The nearby creek was so crystal clear that I took off my boots, peeled off my socks, and waded into the shallow water. There would have been a water ritual in Bali. In that moment, Mesquite Creek held the same magic.
I did miss the afternoon session while we visited my parents. It still seem to fit the theme, as they were coming home from their summer in Colorado. It was the first time since June we'd seen them and it was a welcome visit. We drove through the wildlife preserve at the RV park where they were staying. The park was awe-inspiring and we had fun petting the voracious farm animals at the petting zoo. We mentally added alpacas to our future hobby farm.
Sunday morning, I was excited to rejoin the retreat community. My perspective had shifted. Not only was I feeling connected to the more than 200 other participants, but I was feeling especially attune to the land and my surroundings. The wildflowers, the dragonflies, the abundance of squash in my garden. All reminders that fall can be a beautiful season to come home to, the shorter days allowing for rest, not defeat.
I finished the morning session (possibly skipping a savasana) and we raced home to Fort Worth for the closing ceremonies. Again, the theme of coming home echoed in my soul. Sometimes I don't appreciate the city as much because I'm focused on the future and how soon we can build on our land. Yesterday, I appreciated all of the beautiful spaces throughout our home, especially the sacred space where I start my day. It was in that corner where I closed out the retreat, crying at the thought of saying farewell to all of the amazing people who attended from all over the world.
I went into this virtual retreat with an absurd amount of skepticism for someone who encourages community. I let fear of disappointment cloud my judgment. I was so very pleasantly surprised. The experience will carry into the coming weeks. I learned a lot about myself and am ready to nourish my body just as I did my soul.
"Let nothing be lost on us." ~Pixie Lighthorse