"Don't the hours grow shorter as the days go by
We never get to stop and open our eyes
One minute you're waiting for the sky to fall
The next you're dazzled by the beauty of it all ”~ Bruce Cockburn
From the song Lovers In A Dangerous Time
In my 20s and 30s I was all go go go. Getting things crossed off my to do list, making advancements in career and life, managing this and that, and moving at light speed. I was a high ranking executive in a Fortune 500 company before I was 30 and later an Executive Project Manager in the world of NYC advertising. Multitasking was my norm and it was something I was pretty good at. Even in my early 40s I was still not content to stick with where I was and take it easy. I was traveling, moving, changing, looking, constantly in motion and running from the devil. I was doing everything right according to the playbook of life. Problem is, nobody told me that the playbook wasn't quite right.
Something shifted when I left the US in 2014 for Thailand. I came face to face with a forced slow down. The pace of life, the approach to living, the crowd I encountered, and the lack of opportunities to speed through life were all quiet different. It didn't start that way. I arrived with 3 jobs and was spending my time running around and keeping up the US pace I had become so accustomed to. It wasn't until I let go of the pressure to be something and change situations I had no business or power to change that I gained a whole lot of space to turn my attention inward.
And let me tell you, there was alot of space in there. So much it left me terrified, shaking, and lost. For a Yoga teacher to be faced with a hard stop (think slamming on the brakes in a roller coaster) when you thought you were taking it easy was quite a shocker. For the first time in my life I was able, allowed, and encouraged to really do nothing and direct my attention inward.
What a privileged position to be in. That privilege only took my selling everything I own, leaving my friends and family behind, and moving to the other side of the world with 3 suitcases and a little money in the bank. When I finally took time (and mustered the courage) to embrace nothing, I spent days watching the clouds and listening to rain. I watched the 3 seasons of Thailand change and did little in terms of what would be considered "acceptable work". I read and studied, wrote business plans, and tried to get a grip on balance in my body, mind, and spirit.
I left Thailand in 2016 (3 cats in tow) and moved to beautiful Portugal. While I feel like I have finally landed at home and have been working to dig my roots in deep, I am again feeling the pull of overthinking, over committing, and allowing other things to take priority over my practice.
I cherish the quiet moments I take on the beach near my home as I walk to and from work. Just that simple act of staring out into the waves and watching as the tide flows in and out brings me peace. I am also so grateful to the growing sangha I have here. My personal practice is getting back on track, I have friends I can call when I am in need, and students are starting to become regulars who I look forward to seeing each week. I am still living a privileged life where I do not need to work 50+ hours a week, deal with snow, deal with American politics if I do not wish to, eat healthy food at a fair price, sleep in a home that is at an affordable rent, and see that the rest of the world is not as insane as it sometimes seems.
This is not something many people can do and that makes my heart hurt when I think about all of the people who just need to take a breather but can not. This is why I created a retreat this summer here in my new home and why I am assisting on another one happening here with my teacher and friend Melissa Smith.
A retreat is a vacation that is not about going anywhere or accomplishing anything except observing the self, in the moment, without distractions or obligations. When you go on a retreat you set the intention to be more mindful, eat better, relax, practice Yoga and/or Mediation, and surround yourself with people of like mind. The benefits of retreats are much more meaningful and long-lasting as opposed to vacations where you are more apt to binge and remain as overstimulated and stressed as you were at home. Everyone can take a retreat and I highly recommend you check out ours or find another one near you. Many options are available in many price ranges with different time commitments.
This slowing down and taking time out is something I have come to see as vital especially since I am no longer living the Thai life. Finding a way to prioritize self care is my new focus in life as I enter into my next phase. With luck and attention I will come out shining with grace and love. I hope to see you shining too.