This past weekend I took a solo adventure up the coast to Spirit Rock Meditation Center.
Now that I'm comfortable driving I feel limitless in the adventures I can take.
I have been sifting through many emotions this new year, as have my friends and clients, and when I saw a daylong workshop for women on Compassion, Mercy and Power, I jumped at the opportunity.
I wanted to give myself permission to sit alone, preferably in nature, with all of emotions after the course, and when I found this little teardrop trailer on Airbnb in felt like destiny.
Saturday morning I woke up around 4 am, layered on some cozy clothes and hit the road, music blasting, a mug of hot matcha tea to keep me warm.
I made it to Fairfax just in time for a yoga class. It was slow and sweet, in a large room filled with old friends, mostly older, greeting each other and laughing as they untangled on their mats.
Feeling limber and grateful, I made my way to Good Earth Natural Foods to stock up on provisions for the day: water, tea, almond milk, a protein bar, nuts, dried fruit; green juice. I wanted to be fueled and light so I could focus on the meditations.
A long winding country road took me to Spirit Rock, serene and calm, surrounded by rolling green hills. I was guided to take my shoes off in the front hall and join the large room at the end lined with chairs, the teacher seated on a stage with a mat and candles. Some women sprawled out on mats beside the lines of chairs, and I grabbed a seat alone in a corner (introvert's choice.)
The day was broken into three parts: Mercy, Compassion, and Power, with readings, guided meditations, music, walking meditations and group discussions. I'll share some of my favorite notes below:
You have to show mercy before you show compassion to yourself or to another. Mercy is to not cause harm - to show restraint, to choose to let go of suffering.
The truth is, shit happens, and we make it worse. We don't have to. We need to let go of expectations for ourselves and others. To ask ourselves if we need to feel these things or if we can let them go. Often, the problem itself is enough without us adding to it.
Mercy is to unfold. We are often folded up in ideals and what we've been told. It is a radical act of kindness, not necessarily deserved, forgiving the great big human mess of ourselves or others. It's never where we first look. We need to start with the intention, and learn to embrace our humanness and brokenness rather than deny our own humanity.
Life is a cycle of good and bad we need to accept - even to learn to love the dark days for what they teach us, how they soften and tender our heart and shift us into compassion.
Sometimes heaven is a new pair of glasses (change your perspective, change everything.)
Compassion practice is daring. When we Harden our hearts towards anyone we hurt ourselves.
We need to own our own darkness to understand that which is in others. We need to wish well to those who are suffering (the quivering of the heart.)
We need to be kind to ourselves, to recognize our own pain, to put our hand on our heart or our belly and say "Sweetie, this is so hard."
It can be helpful to realize that our suffering is not unique. It is the experience of being human. That someone right next to you knows the same suffering, even if the story is different.
To be free, we must wish for everyone to be free of suffering in their hearts.
Perhaps, everything that frights us is something that is helpless and wants our love.
In compassion we also dived into a very important topic:
Forgiveness is so much about ourselves. We need to give up any hope we have of a different past. We can't hold on to harms done if we want to move forward with a liberated heart, it is too great a burden to cary.
Bad feelings towards others, or yourself, destroys your peace of mind. It is of no use. Revenge is violence and leads to counter violence. Anger is uncomfortable feelings for yourself.
Ask yourself what are you nurturing?
Forgiveness is not a one time thing. It is a constant practice we need to work on and return to constantly. It is a momentary relief. We need to accept that relationships change so much and we cannot always reclaim what once was.
Outshine the resentment.
Ask for forgiveness, and know that it has nothing to do with the answer on the other side.
Freedom isn't a place, it's a mindset.
We are so much more than the sum of our actions. We need to feel and own what we did, to come face to face with our own humanity.
When you forgive yourself, something or someone, it no longer defines you.
We cannot will it, it comes with practice. Ask for it. Take care of yourself.
We are powerful when we own what makes us different. Broken or not, we are who we are. Be the strength to allow the light to come in. Grow from what could break you.
OWN YOURSELF FEARLESSLY.
I cried through some of the meditations and found great comfort in connecting with the women in my group. All different walks of life, stories and journeys, but shared vulnerability and the desire to feel peace for themselves and others. At one point a woman said to our group "Can you imagine what the world would be like if everyone thought this way?" It was beautiful to imagine.
At the end of the day the room emptied, and I drove to pick up some food, then to my little campground where I had the trailer dropped off.
I expected to shed more tears through the night, but found myself at peace from the day. I read some books, including a new book on Karma I picked up at the bookshop and fell asleep early.
I woke up in the dark early hours of the morning, made some hot cocoa and green tea on the little propane stove, then packed up and headed to a Yin yoga class in Point Reyes.
Again I found myself in a sweet little community of old friends, while I stretched and sighed in the clothes I had slept in, a little kitty passing by my feet as I melted into pigeon pose.
I ended my adventures with a little visit to Oakland to my favorite magic store, a spice shop, and treated myself to a manicure before heading to San Jose to see my beau.
Looking forward to more adventures with him this year, as well as more solo ones.
There is so much beauty in traveling alone, crawling into solitude, talking to strangers, moving at your own pace.
Until next time friends.