This past weekend, I attended my first yoga retreat. I like to think of myself as an avid meditator and a beginner’s yogi. Both have been apart of my daily practice for about two years. A few weeks before my weekend arrived, it finally hit me that this could be a life-changing event. Would I be able to finally let go of all that feels heavy? Would I be able to finally live life with a clear mind? Would I find the romance I constantly tell myself I need throughout each day?
The atmosphere of the ranch was simple and calming. I spent my time in two-hour yoga classes, relaxing in the sauna, writing and reflecting on my life. There was chanting before bed and morning walks at the crack of sunrise. Those were my favorite parts, to my surprise, instead of the vegan gluten-free food, which was delicious or even the yoga.
To my surprise, I conversed with a lot of inspiring people. I tend to over internalize my shyness, going to this retreat alone was one thing, but to meet and genuinely connect with others, was another. I met a lawyer who has been to the ranch six times already and said he wouldn’t be able to continue his practice without time to clear his head. I met others similar to me in 9-5 jobs just looking for a more peaceful outlook on life. My roommate, whom I effortlessly connected to most, inspired me with life and job advice. It felt easy to relate to many of these people, but to an even bigger surprise, some felt cold.
There were people who refused to participate in Karma yoga, a thankless chore that requires presence, such as sweeping the floors for a half hour or collecting wood for forty-five minutes. There were some who had no intention of taking their shoes off in the building, despite it being one of five of the Ashram’s rules. I noticed some people didn’t participate in chants or meditations while others carried their phones with them at all times. Friends who knew each other grouped together and wanted to do what the other was doing.
At first, I couldn’t help but judge. You purchased this retreat to let go. You are here to quiet your mind and get out of your daily life. Participation only helps and the volunteers do so much for us, why wouldn’t you want to lend a helping hand? I started to realize it didn’t make me better than anyone else, participation or not. Even though I wanted to express my opinion during a service and tried every food or elected myself for Karma yoga, meant nothing. I was doing this for the good of myself and to prove myself that I can go out of my way and try new things. I admit I have a people pleasing gene in me as well, so definitely had something to do with it.
During my stay with trees, bees and a scenic lake nearby, I thought a lot about the expression: “Planting seeds." The act is a labor of love to yourself and the earth. However, it takes time and even preparation beforehand. You can’t plant seeds in the dead of winter, despite your impatience, or else they will die. You have to plant them in the right climate and temperature or they will not flourish. Sometimes, it’s hard to figure out where you even want to plant seeds, or what type of seed you want to plant.
Everyone who gave their all or gave as much as they felt were working on the process of planting seeds. There were people who enjoyed their stay and watched their minds bloom from the seeds planted before and during the retreat. There were others who dug holes, knowing what parts of their life goals, but not exactly sure how to bring them into fruition. Some were still walking around figuring what they wanted to do, but the act of even adjusting to a new environment gets them one step closer to where they want to be.
The retreats residual energy still has an impression on me. I learned a lot about the patience of planting and why time is so important to growth, maturity and goal setting. You could say, I’m a budding Stargazer Lily, anticipating to bloom, despite my past conditions.