This is not about the Jean-Claude Van Damme movie of the same name…
Our yoga centre recently held a competition to give away two places to our upcoming Wild Love Jivamukti Yoga Retreat, which is on this weekend. I’m so pumped to teach the nature-themed retreat once again with fellow Jivamukti teacher, Justine Goss and hang out with our animal friends by the billabong and sing by the fire like what you might have done at scouts, except without crap food.
Going on retreat is like organic, not-tested-on-animals medicine for the soul. And judging by many of the competition entries, where we asked people to tell us in thirty words or less why they should win two spots, it’s medicine we all could use more of.
It’s like a badge of honour these days to answer the question, ‘How are you?’ with ‘So busy!’ or ‘Totally stressed out!’ If this is how we are supposed to live, then it’s really not for me…
Going on retreat is not escapism, it’s investment. Escapism is having way too many beers. Investment is savouring preciousness in the minutest of details and refilling your cup with something far more sustaining than beer (though, truth be told, I do love a good beer).
In his book ‘The Diamond Cutter'(co-written with Lama Christie McNally) my hero Geshe Michael Roach refers to retreat time as ‘the business of gardening for the future’. He talks of planting karmic seeds in this precious time away so that when we do return to work, we can be more present, more alive, more considerate, more creative and ultimately more happy.
When we retreat away from what sometimes can be seen as mundane ‘every day life’, we give ourselves the opportunity to see things, hear things and even taste things differently. The spiritual palette is cleansed.
We don’t slow down for the sake of tuning out. Rather, we relearn the lost skill of mono-tasking; focusing so intently on one task that our concentration levels actually increase and our minds are given the opportunity to see something previously thought of as ‘mundane’ as breathing or sipping clean water as the very precious gifts they are.
We ‘turn on’ rather than ‘tune out’ our buried creative thinking. Re-energised, uncluttered and unbound, we find creative solutions to problems that now seem significantly smaller.
We become re-nourished, re-focused, grateful for what we all ready have, and ultimately a lot more useful to those who have to live with our busy-ness on a day to day basis.
Busyness is a state of mind. But so is living gloriously and gracefully in whatever moment within which we find ourselves. It just takes practice and a fresh perspective.
When we retreat, we surrender to what it is we knew all along: we have everything we need within us to appropriate lasting, uncompromising happiness. Happiness about the smallest things like pure, fresh air and warm clothing. And happiness about the biggest things: incredible people, wonderful relationships and abundance.
Bite the bullet. At least once a year. Retreat.