Lately, I've been into bravery. Possibly it's because I've been watching a television show that features many knights. Really, though, I'm into bravery because it's those brave acts that move us forward. It's the fear that drives us. We learn from what scares us. I believe that being brave is being bold. Being brave is a way of being.
So, how can one practice bravery on their own? Often, we are faced with situations out of our control, ones in which we are tested. Can we test ourselves? I think so.
For the past few years, I've been longing to go on another yoga retreat. The first one I went on was a total success, one of the best weekends of my life. It was called "Eat, Play, Yoga" and that's exactly what we did! Not only did I relax into the practice of yoga, but I made lifelong friends. Also, I've never laughed so hard in my life. Ever since, I've been wanting to return to that magical place in Glen Ellen.
A few months ago, I read about a retreat and it really spoke to me. It was called "Butterfly Hearing." The name in itself is a call to look inward. I didn't know much, except the following details: it was a yoga retreat for writers, led my the amazing yoga instructor/writer Karen Macklin and Ayurveda chef Meredith Klein. Here are some images of Meredith's healing and nourishing food:
A typical dinner...
...and a typical breakfast:
That oatmeal is savory, infused with Indian spices. It was an absolute inspiration. Anyway, back to the description of the yoga retreat. There was another detail that unfolded along with this butterfly's wings...
It would be silent. A silent yoga retreat for writers. Honestly, it sounded incredible. Exactly what I needed. I signed up, with excitement brewing like the cup of coffee I knew I wouldn't be drinking during those days in Glen Ellen.
Then, something completely out of my control happened. On May 10th (about 3 weeks before the retreat), I got hit by a car while riding my bicycle to work. I was not seriously injured (some scrapes and bruising), but the accident took its toll on me emotionally. I was discouraged by my pain, as well as my inability to do yoga and exercise. It slowed me down for sure, in a time when I felt like I was on a roll. My momentum felt blasted and I became very, very disappointed.
The weeks went on and as I slowly built up my strength and positive frame of mind, I developed something else: the most intense, almost instinctual, need to be around people. I'm not a loner, but I do need my alone time. During this time of healing, however, my alone time was not welcomed and did not provide the nourishment that it usually does. I wanted to be around friends, family, people. I also wanted to talk and laugh. I wanted to share ideas, talk of dreams, and make plans. There was one thing I didn't want to be:
Silent. So, I thought about it. Maybe I shouldn't go on this retreat. Maybe I should just back out. Cancel. I debated this for a few days and then something inside of me spoke up. And it said, no. I could not cancel, I needed to take this risk and be silent. I drove up to Glen Ellen on a Friday, not knowing where my thoughts would lead me. I went up to Glen Ellen with a little bit of knee pain and a lot of unknowing.
We are brave when we take a step into the unknown. I felt very challenged at first, unable to escape the constant chatter in my mind: Why can't I meditate properly? Why is my foot asleep? Why am I the only person in this room with my eyes open? What will I have for dinner when I get back to San Francisco? Then, suddenly, it clicked. The conversation in my head came to halt. I quieted my mind and I heard the silence.
I stepped into this yoga retreat afraid to be silent and I left in an utter state of gratitude. For my life, for my health, and for silence. I felt grateful for my retreat leaders and for my fellow yogis. Their presence allowed me to be silent, in the company of others. It was the best of both worlds. I was around people (something I desperately needed after my accident) with the space to quiet my mind (something I also desperately needed after my accident). I was no longer a victim, vulnerable to the world around me. I was a symbol of wellness. A yogi. A knight. Silently patting myself on the back, I left feeling strong and mindful, but mostly brave.