I gave myself a gift the other day and went to Kripalu Yoga Center for their Retreat and Renewal Program. One day, one luxurious stress-free day filled with healthy vegetarian food, yoga, meditation and writing. As I sat writing in the sun room overlooking the Berkshire Hills and Stockbridge Bowl, I realized that although I have regular contact with my Creator, taking time to pray everyday, I really only allow myself the bare minimum of what God can offer. A sort of spiritual anorexia, so to speak. I had been starving my soul of much needed quiet reflection, and had been starving my creative self of the tactile experience of writing on paper, notebook and pen meeting in the quiet, the room devoid of the click of computer keys and the jumble of icons and excess stuff.
My life has become crowded with stuff, an inbox filled with old emails, dog hair, empty soda bottles, books, and files, just stuff that lurks in the background, creating noise. Rarely have I time to meditate, to absorb the quiet and the emptiness which is really where I find my God. So I took my first Vinyasa yoga class in over two years and felt my muscles burn and my body sweat. I sat in the dining room alone and ate my food without conversation. My body was starving and I inhaled the rhythmic pattern of my footsteps as I walked the labyrinth. On this flower - lined path I turned within, the way twisting and turning. Just when you think you are close to the center a twist in the path leads to to the outside, seemingly losing ground, but closer to the center with every step. Once you have arrived it is easier to find the way back to the beginning, one is no longer advancing to get someplace, one is just walking. Experience is a teacher in the labyrinth.
I finished the day with a gentle yoga class, feeling all aches and pains I had been ignoring for the last few years. I allowed myself to feel compassion for a body that wasn't as limber as a few years before, that held large amounts of stress and anxiety deep within the tissue, a body that really wanted to be pushing for the moderate class and elevated heart rate, a body that just really needed noise to hide what was. The present is always the hardest place to be. I think that is why I fill my life with noise, with clutter, chemicals and with technology. Being connected to Source brings peace. I need to feed my anorexic soul, not by binging, but by gently adding a few nurturing practices to my day. Unemployment is a perfect time to begin. I could pick up my old practice of morning journaling as I listen to the songbird symphony outside my window. I might allow myself the gift of a weekly yoga class. I could spend brief moments throughout the day finding silence and listening. I can feed myself and let it be ok. I'll let you know how it goes, my email is calling me!