Retreat and Renew

This past weekend I had the honour of hosting fifteen lovely women for an annual yoga and meditation retreat in Prince Edward County. Such a beautiful location…very conducive to restoring and renewing one’s energy. Our theme for the retreat was CONNECTION – to oneself, to others, and to nature. Over the course of the weekend, I witnessed the unfolding of an energetic exchange amongst the women that grew deeper day by day. Faces that were initially apprehensive and uncertain, became relaxed and at ease. Bodies that held tension from stress began to move with grace and flow. Over-active minds experienced moments of peace and serenity; I could see it in their smiles and hear it in their hearty laughs. There was a transformation in these women happening before my eyes and I watched in awe as they blossomed.

 

circle of friends

 

So many special connections were made, but what I found to be the most interesting was when I asked the women to give away one of the pebbles they had collected in an earlier afternoon activity. At the time they found these pebbles, they had no idea who they would be giving them to; they were just to find a stone that was unique in some way and “spoke” to them. Later, in our yoga circle, I had them turn to the person on their left and present them with the pebble. The words that came from the heart of each woman were so precious, so genuine, and so in-the-moment, that I simply sat back and listened with astonishment. Each individual pebble seemed to be the perfect gift, as if the recipient was receiving exactly what she needed. A simple gift from nature created the biggest connection of all…and it was beautiful to watch.

 

IMG_1729

 

Our goodbyes at the end of the retreat were a combination of laughter, hugs, tears, and well wishes. I believe everyone, including myself, took home a piece of each other, and at the same time, left a piece of themselves behind. A piece that was no longer needed or a layer of “stuff” that needed to be shed…Such is the power of a retreat – to release, renew, rejuvenate, and restore.

Sometimes one needs to venture beyond their own backyard, away from the ordinary routine and the noise of the city; to connect with nature and the elements in order to re-set. I believe we NEED this more than ever…and I am blessed to have been able to experience it once again with such a remarkable group of women.

 

Buddha 4

 

Advertisements

Late Summer Bounty

In my backyard, I do not have a vegetable garden, but I am blessed with a lot of friends who do. So at this time of year, I am usually the recipient of a variety of garden goodies, from tomatoes to herbs to giant zucchinis! While the produce at the store might look shiny and fresh and colourful, there is nothing that tastes more “real” than the gift of something hand-grown with love from a friend.

Garden veggies

 

I like to think that home-grown fruits and veggies are infused with positive energy; that someone took time, patience and care to nurture and support their growth. Sure, some plants are higher maintenance than others and require that extra bit of “tending” while others seem to grow better if you leave them alone. Some don’t survive no matter how much we want them to, while others seem to grow out of control and take over the garden (i.e. giant zucchinis!). Some just wither away when we forget or neglect them, while others we must physically yank out and discard when growth is just not happening…Doesn’t this sound like a metaphor for relationships? Can we take the same approach when nurturing our friendships and family interactions? The ones that blossom beautifully are the ones we take time with – we pay attention, we invest positive energy, and we support growth rather than stifle it. And when it is clear that weeds of negativity, misunderstanding, judgement, and impatience are growing fast, we take appropriate action before they become so overgrown that nothing can be saved.

I have a note card that says “Happiness must be grown in one’s own garden” and I truly believe that if my backyard is filled with love, then whatever grows there will reflect that, whether it is a tree or a person. Today as I’m weeding and poking around in my backyard, I might just contemplate a few things and see if I can become a better gardener…both in my own garden and in my life…