The following is an excerpt from my personal journal while on a three day/two night sabbatical into the woods.
Begin your […practice] by… feel[ing] the energy in the room… be aware of how you feel… Remind yourself that you are an integral part of the universe… Then say a short prayer or invocation.” -Erich Schiffmann
Last day in the woods. I’m leaving in about two hours – and I’ve really been struggling with this. My entire time here has felt like a resistance, like I’ve wanted to be somewhere else. Not the entire time. I’ve had moments of peace. Yesterday – or was it Wednesday? – I had a great twenty minute meditation.
But yes, it wasn’t as easy this time. I felt very peaceful and aware my first trip here. [Post-written note: I came to this same location the second week of February 2014, during a particularly difficult time in my life.] Was it because of my interactions and inspiration then with Vince? [Vince is the director of the retreat.] I don’t know. Maybe.
I’ve been doing a lot of reading of A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle, and it’s my ego. My ego won’t shut up. And I know I’ll never get it to, and at least I know that it’s my ego. But so many things, so many doubts… Who do I think I am to quit my job to be a yoga teacher? Why would I be better at this than others? With me so new and not able to shut off my ego, how can I ever be an effective spiritual teacher?
Again, all of those questions coming from the ego, not allowing me to just be. Well, I am just am. I do just be. [“People don’t think it be like it is, but it do.”] The ego just piles on top of it, is all. I’m still there. I’m not gone. Just hidden.
When I drove up to the woods, I did something I rarely do – I listened to Top 40s radio. Some song by – I think – Meghan Trainor? “I know you’re lying ’cause your lips are moving…” Silly song, but so catchy. Soon I was dancing in the car. Me, dancing in my car, on my way to a spiritual retreat. The idea seemed so absurd that I literally laughed out loud in my car.
But I didn’t care. I was having fun. I’m at a great place in my life – a place of potential, a place I’ve dreamed of being my entire life. I have both freedom and security, which, up until this point in my life, were mutually exclusive.
So that’s when I realized – I should be having FUN. This is what I’ve been waiting my entire life for. I’ve dreamt about it for so long. Why waste it by taking myself too seriously?
I had a similar moment out in the woods. Yesterday, I decided to go for a hike. I had a map of the property, but last year, it was snowy and the trails weren’t marked well, so I didn’t get to much of the trails.
So, I set out to go explore. It’s a little intimidating, you know, heading out into the woods all alone, when the GPS doesn’t work on your phone and the trails aren’t marked and you’re headed out to a place that says, “Deep Woods.” Like, what is the DEEP woods? Is that where the tigers live and are ready to pounce on unassuming out-of-place twenty-something year old girls? But I do so anyway, because, you know, DETERMINATION.
So I get a lost at first. I can’t tell if what I’m on is a trail or just a path I’m making up that’s relatively clear. I backtrack twice, finally making it back to the spot where I entered the woods. I know, what a wuss.
So I go again, but this time I take a different path. The trails seem to be a bit more clear, and every once in a while I see an old chair or a bench which lets me know I am, in fact, going the right direction.
I finally cross this creek, which is frozen, and get to the deep woods. I can turn right, to go to the “lookout,” which I desperately want to see but will take me deeper into the tiger-laden deep woods. Or I can turn left, which will start to bring me back.
I start to turn left, and then… NO. I did not come all this way to not see the stupid lookout. I AM GOING RIGHT, DAMMIT. If I die out here alone, well maybe that’s my fate.
So I go right and follow the trail. It seems longer than it is, and I’m hyper aware of every sound and movement around me. But I keep going… And… AHA! The lookout! Okay, there’s not much of a lookout, but there’s the bench that’s marked on the map, and I guess you can see a little bit, but there’s all of these darn trees in the way. Anyway, I’m so proud of myself for facing my fears and getting there, that I take a selfie. Who knows, maybe it’ll be the last known picture of me before I’m eaten by a tiger.
“Let me take a selfie.”
What kind of lookout is this, anyway?
With a bit of new-found confidence, I get ready to head back. I remember my drive in, listening to that stupid Meghan Trainor song and dancing. Yes, this is what life is about. It’s about fun, adventure, and facing your fears. I’ve faced a lot of fears lately, by quitting my job, starting a business, and basically trusting that the universe will provide. And now, I’ve even made it through the tiger-filled woods on my own to this silly lookout bench – and you know what? It’s not even that scary. It’s not even like I’m paving the way, making the trail… Many people have gone before me, and left me little signs and signals that I’m on the right path. I’m alone right now, but I’m not alone in my mission, in my drive.
The map that I have cuts off at the top, so I can’t see all the little twists and turns and where exactly the trail heads. Nerve-wracking? Heck yeah! But – FUCK IT – I’MMA GO FULL SPEED! And just like that I am sprinting down the trails, as fast as I can, in a direction that I have no idea where the fuck it leads. Nevermind that I’m in more danger of tripping and breaking my ankle in my Columbia snow boots than of being snatched up by a tiger. I am a NEW WOMAN, I am FACING MY FEARS, I am RUNNING THIS GODDAMN TRAIL and feeling the wind on my face! Oh, the exhilaration! Oh, the fun! Oh, the insanity! What the fuck am I doing? I am laughing, and sprinting, and going who knows where but I’m trusting I’ll come out somewhere.
And, I do. I find this little tractor bench that’s marked on the map, so I know I’m on my way. Good thing, because I don’t think I can backtrack. I wouldn’t remember what turns I made or where.
Anyway, I finally make it out. I am free. I survived. I faced my fears, built my self-confidence… And you know what? It was FUN.
And anyway, isn’t that what life’s about?
Having fun, or something.