light and dark in southern italy


I've just returned home from attending my first yoga retreat.  After leading many it was time for me to be on the receiving end.  My intention was to rest, play and fill my cup, and to step fully into the role of student for a week. I didn't have much expectation beyond that. 

What transpired during the week went far beyond anything I could have imagined.  Each day another layer was peeled back.  I first felt it on the second morning practice, a nauseous, sick feeling in my solar plexus that arose during our mediation. I thought I might throw up. It was the residue of life's stress and anxiety that had built up over the past few years.  I do a fair job at home taking care of myself but life is life and there is shit we have to deal with. During the evening practice we did a belly breathing exercise that literally pumped that residue from the solar plexus out of my body. 

Each day we continued to work deeper into our practice and I realized that I was feeling not so confident in my interactions with the other women in the group.  I was weighing each conversation in my head, did they like me? Did they think I was dumb or annoying? That begin to even play out during my interactions, I was feeling a bit nervous and hesitant to let my guard down. On our last day, and the days following, slowly things began to reveal themselves. An old wound from my childhood that I hadn't thought about in years that had convinced me that people didn't like me and wouldn't want to be friends with me. This wound clouded my heart even into college, friends would tell me they thought I was bitchy before getting to know me when really I was trying to make myself invisible for fear of rejection.

I found yoga in college and it taught me to be comfortable in my own skin and this wound began to heal. And still more healing with becoming a wife, mother and teacher. However these are roles, big amazing roles that are part of who I am but not me. Attending this retreat, alone, no roles, not the teacher, not a wife, not a mother, just me, I found myself back facing the fear of rejection. Whoa. I hadn't felt that in so long. Years. 

I love my life. There is nothing I would change about it (except student loans!). I love my family, my house, my teaching. It is my comfort zone, and its a good thing. I've built trust with my comfort zone and am able to BE with out fear, to BE confidently. Though stepping out of this comfort space was eye-opening. And absolutely necessary. With out the comfort and trust of my roles I was left bare, just me. I hadn't been like that in a while and I was able to see and learn a lot about myself that I wouldn't have at home. 

It was the entire process of being pulled out of my normal environment, super deep yoga, mediation, journaling, discussions and sharing that lead me to these revelations. This was entirely unexpected and came along with plenty of light, laughter and connection, plus getting to explore southern Italy.  Before this expreience I wasn't sure if this kind of deep introspection could ride along side the typical activities of a holiday but it did, and of course it did. Light and dark, depth and play, this is life, sweetness and sadness all in one taste.

I'm still flushing all of this out. Its scary for me to hit 'publish' on this post because its blurring the line between teacher Anna and Anna but I think this is a step I need to take.