Today officially puts Nicaragua one week's distance in my rearview mirror. But it's still undeniably present in my daily experience. One thing that you probably noticed is that I didn't actively blog while on my trip, like I thought I would want to. It felt more natural to journal with pen and paper instead. Writing really put me on pause. It takes longer to get thoughts out on paper compared to typing, which both enables a more natural stream-of-consciousness reflection and a relaxed state of expression. There is something uniquely sacred about forming the words by hand. It allowed me time to really process what I was experiencing and what was showing up for me before I released it into the blogosphere. And it also gave me a safe place to share some more private thoughts.
I have so much to say about my trip. I’m still processing some of those elements, but I am ready to share preliminary thoughts. I will continue to post about other learnings as they come into focus.
Be open to...
- What comes up mentally and emotionally
- Trying new things and facing your fears
- Connecting with new people
- Surprises and unexpected turns of events
- Going with the flow
- Opportunities to get honest and real with yourself and others
- Each day with gratitude and excitement
- Any chance you get to confront blockages and inner boundaries
- Opportunities to practice being unleashed – free of judgments, fears, expectations
- Present. Keep the mind actively aware of its current surroundings and the people around you. No thinking about the future, whether tomorrow or life back in LA
- In gratitude for this retreat – recognize the privilege and unique opportunity you are experiencing
- Committed to growing and learning more – about yourself, yoga, traveling, in reading, surfing, etc.
Reflecting back on these initial intentions I had for my trip, I was (am) really proud of what I achieved. I allowed myself to be cracked wide open. I was truly brave. I shot down negative self-talk. I lifted others up. I connected with my group and others I met, deeply and authentically. I drank in the experience fully. I didn't judge myself. I let myself be seen. I didn't impose a rigid schedule on myself. I loved every minute - the people, the place, and the emotions that came up. I was adventurous. I surrendered - to the bugs, the ocean, and the energy around me. I was FREE.
From my seat in first class (another 'first' I'm adding to the list), I journaled for hours straight, gushing with gratitude for the experience. I recounted how strong I felt and the huge realizations about love and inner peace that I was leaving with. And then, as the immense significance of the trip started to really take shape, my thoughts suddenly turned melancholy. I started to consider the work it would require to maintain the newfound mindset I had established for myself in that peaceful beach town.
Here come the tears... I began to cry buckets. I got present to the fears I have post-Nica. The crux of the fear lies in the desire to bottle what I described above - the feeling of total unleashed freedom. I felt the panic set in almost immediately, and I got the urge to ask the pilot to turn the plane around. I couldn't leave! How could I go back to my apartment? My job? The bustle of the city? How could I go back to my life? I needed to stay in that lovely place, perched above the ocean, where the structures surrender to nature, food comes from local farms, life is simple, and people are kind and warm. But more alive than yearning for what the place offered materially, was the desperate desire to hold on to how it made me feel and the kind of person I was out there. I had to go back to Magnific Rock, where I felt centered, my mind was quiet, my body was strong, my heart was open, and my spirit was unleashed.
I slipped into a residual state that felt a lot like mourning. As we made our way back towards Los Angeles, I struggled to hold onto the centered, aware, awake, inspired person I was in Nica. I felt like such a brave, badass human being out there. I transformed my negative self-talk. I became my own personal superhero. I didn't want to lose hold of that state of being. I started to feel like I would deflate and slowly float back into my "old" state of mind if I couldn't stay in Nicaragua. I feared that that part of me would die in LA.
I have shared my struggle with a few friends who have had meaningful vacations, and they all say that they can relate. They said things like, "It takes time to settle back in," "I always feel like I need a vacation after my vacation," and something to the effect of "Makes you want to sell everything and move to (insert amazing place), right?" But there is a very powerful, key learning about the post-vacation experience that has emerged as I recognize my struggle to hold on. I'm starting to understand that it's not about separation of vacation and "life." It's not about bottling my experience and putting it in a mason jar on my coffee table. It's not about running away from my day job and non-beach-front apartment to achieve nirvana. It is about harnessing the mindset I established and believing that I possess it, not allowing the place I visited to claim ownership over it. No matter what physical space I occupy, I have the power to tap into that strong, brave superhero. She doesn't live in Nica. She lives in me.
Have you ever felt like a certain place (whether a yoga room, a mountain top, or a coveted vacation spot) made you feel like you were the best version of yourself? When you were out of your routine, in that special place, surrounded by different people or perhaps alone, and you surrendered expectations and judgement... what emerged? That mental state of being, sitting in the throne of consciousness, is something that you can take with you, no matter where you go. It's not only something that you can have on vacation, at a spiritual retreat, in the middle of the quiet dessert, or on the shores of a desolate beach. This beautiful state of being doesn't have to be fleeting or temporary. We can harness it, despite our location. I acknowledge that it will take work and active awareness. I understand that it won't be as easy as it was to maintain as when we didn't have to pick the kids up from school, rush to a meeting, or clean the litter box. But that is the extent of energy or attention I will give those factors. It is possible, and I am committed to bringing my newly found powers into my daily life, no matter where it takes me.
My ultimate goal: to redefine my comfort zone -- to completely flip it on its head, such that by leaning into discomfort and daily challenges and continuing to evolve, I get to a place where it feels strange and UNcomfortable to be stagnant or scared (instead of the other way around).