The spirit world appears to be of vast luminescence. -Michael Newton, "Journey of Souls"
I recently took a risk. Without knowing much about where I was going or with whom, I joined a group of retreaters to spend 7 days and 6 nights at Ananda Ashram in Monroe, NY. With only a few days notice, I took time off work and made myself completely unavailable to the outside world. I vowed to stay off social media and limit my texting, emailing and web surfing, which was part of the retreat protocol.
The purpose of this blog post is not to talk about the experience I had, one that was so powerful and impactful I know it will affect everything I do for the rest of my life, including (gratefully) my writing. I got home less than six hours ago and have been up at 5:45am for the past week in immersions of mediation, study, yoga, nature and meals until 9:30pm each night. Now is not the time to describe what this all meant because I am too tired to do it justice.
What I do want to do with this post is simply acknowledge that I am following my own lead of taking myself out of certain spaces and into others. In other words, I took myself out of the city and put myself into nature. Out of work burnout and into rest. Out of virtual community and into deep, real human connection. Out of stress and into relaxation. Out of egoic self-seeking and into contemplative surrender. Out of running from myself and into acceptance. Out of running my own show and into following the leader. Out of the constant motion and into stillness. I took myself out of the world of the material and into the world of spirit, energy, love.
And, following suit, I am taking myself out of social and into this writing space. For years I kept a blog and it brought me fulfillment, not only through the honing of my own writing voice but because of how I touched my readers. I wanted to express myself, so I did. It snowballed into other forms of expression. My nourishment came from getting my voice out, and knowing that my words and intention behind them landed.
I have grown accustomed to updating a lot on Facebook/Instagram, and while the platform has many benefits (#beyou #dancevids #notmypresident) ultimately it exhausts and distracts me from my work and myself. I find newsfeeds to be incredibly overstimulating. I get fatigued, yet find it hard to detach. If you are a writer, you will likely be drawn to updating on social media and that is a beautiful thing. We tell stories after all. But if you are sensitive it can feel like plugging holes in a leaky dam (your emotions being the water and the dam being your conscious mind-body).
Try taking a blank page (like this one) and pounding the keys without an emoticon button the bottom of the field. It is peaceful to write in a space that is not concentrated with so many other voices. A little distance from the LIKE button is a good thing. It feels different.
None of us have a guaranteed stay on this planet, and in the grand scheme of things our visit is brief. It could be an adventure in angst or a journey filled with inspired energy and goodness. Sensitivity. Tears when you feel sad, unapologetic expression when you feel bold, belly-deep laughter when the silly spirit moves you, hedonistic pleasure when desire rings its bell, and joy. Joy in the utter importance and insignificance of it all.
If you do follow your bliss you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while, waiting for you, and the life that you ought to be living is the one you are living...follow your bliss and don’t be afraid, and doors will open where you didn’t know they were going to be. ~Joseph Campbell
I was there and now I am here, looking down on my baby Charlie and listening to him snore. (For any new reader, welcome, Charlie's my dog.) I hear his breath as I heard my breath for so many hours this week. It was the first time in my life I was ever so present to this element of my life force. I found a safety it its refuge, the kind of feeling you get when you are wrapped in the arms of someone who loves you and wants to prove they will never let you go. I found love in my body through my breath, a love so abundant in me that it almost rose in defiance against all the moments I felt like I had stopped loving my life or myself.
In this capacity, we move more freely. We are lighter. We sing Prince and George Michael at the top of our lungs or under our breath (both more than acceptable), we let go of trying to control all the details in our lives. We stop trying to compete for a prize, and cease to strive so tirelessly in pursuit of wealth or status. We settle. We let go of grudges and resentments. We stay away from the darker energies. We attract the people who love us and we choose to love them right back. We live. Oh, how we live.