Monday, August 2, 2010
I Get High With A Little Help From My Friends
Ah, yes. The bliss of a yoga retreat. There is nothing quite like the beauty of going somewhere special and joyfully doing nothing but yoga, chanting mantras, encountering holotropic breathing (an LSD high without the LDS), vegan cuisine, swimming and hiking and sleeping in the cold night air and trying to find the bathroom at in the dead of a dark night. And never getting there in time.
I hadn't been on a yoga retreat in about a year and a half. The last time was in Costa Rica and I was the only one in attendance. My daughter in law's brother was a yoga teacher at this particular retreat near Jaco on the west coast of Costa Rica, and he said he'd meet me there. But had decided to leave a month before I came and forgot to tell me. So I arrived and became a part of an Argentine family who ran retreats as well as lived an idyllic existence on the premises. I simply became an extended part of the family structure for a week. I didn't want to leave my new family when the week was over, but I had to go on tour with my adorable eco tour guide who ended up getting dengue fever and leaving me to fend for myself. I should have taken up their offer to adopt me and have me teach daily yoga to the locals.
This weekend's retreat was in the Ojai Valley. It was held at a place called Casa Baranca. There is a very large beautiful lodge on the grounds with a winery alongside. Tea houses are scattered around on the premises. The most beautiful yoga room I have ever scene is the centerpiece of the retreat. Next to that is a beautiful swimming pool with a jacuzzi. Hiking trails are everywhere.
I intended to not to talk very much. People who know me are laughing out loud now. But I had an intention to keep to myself. However, when I met he various yogis and yoginis and saw the huge smile on my yoga teacher's face, I knew this was going to be a great ride. Everyone was joyful. There was electricity in the air; energy was bouncing off everyone. It was so not a solitude moment for me and I surrendered to the collective energy.
I had no expectations about the retreat. I never do. I try to stay in the moment of my practice, listen to happy breathing in the room, the ever loud rock and roll selections by Steve, wait for the pithy comments, and relax into the flow of moment. The practice is always like a dance for me and the chanting is forever an inspiration. I get high with a little help from my friends. The holotropic breathing sends me into the world of the unconscious where the fears and dark memories reside, and by the end of the hour, they are all released into the universe.
We gather in the kitchen for meals and they are always lively and witty and full of fun. On this particular trip, there were some very intelligent people with exceptional talents - both men and women. One man, in particular, was a very funny Hollywood screenwriter who was never without an hysterical quip or riff on our grueling yoga practice or Steve's insensitivity to our physical pain. "It's all good," Steve repeats as his mantra. "I just don't feel your pain," he adds.
The physical beauty of the land, the way the early morning fog curls around the mountains, the way the sun rises to meet the sky, the perfect intensity of the afternoon sun, which made our bodies warm and supple, the blissful temperature of the pool, the sounds of birds and animals everywhere, the lovable resident cat, the cheerfulness of our vegan cooks, the outdoor eating patio that was surrounded by luscious ice plants and giant oak trees - all made my weekend glorious.
Even driving home on Sunday after a rigorous yoga practice and an exquisite vegan lunch produced no negative energy as I stalled in traffic on my way back to Los Angeles. My life was getting back into balance. I was on the road to recovery, maybe even to transformation.
Then, there is real life. There is my ever present sty above my right eye which won't go away. I made a pit stop at UCLA emergency care to see what was up with it because it looked like it was growing daily. Not much was up with it. It was still hard as a rock and cloning twins. Cleaning and shopping and unpacking and getting ready for Monday's work and the arrival of my step-daughter, cheerful as ever bringing me food and wine and joy were all part of my extraordinary day.
So it was a pretty great weekend, I'd say. I am grateful for my bliss, my joy of yoga, my new friends. I'm grateful my book is on Kindle and it looks smashing on my book page and all ladies who are reading it are laughing and really like the story. So, yeah, I into the gratitude mode as I shuffle the energy of the universe around myself and those whom I love dearly.
And today, another blissful encounter with my yoga classes. I walked into my 5:30 class, my last of the day, and wondered what the noise was about as I stood outside to listen. I finally entered and there was my book, Sixty, Sex, & Tango opened to the chapter entitled, "Men and Other Sociopaths I have Met" being passed around and everyone was laughing. I got ribbed to death and then we settle down for a energetic flow class. Another joyful day.