I turned 40 this year, and for my birthday, my hubby gifted me 5 nights at this completely exclusive retreat nestled away in the hills of Tallebudgera, Gwinganna.
2016 didn’t go as I had planned. In fact, the last few years haven’t gone as I had planned. I’ve had some stormy seas to navigate for sure. And the older I get I see that the wisdom of life is far greater than any wisdom that I have accumulated. If it is even wisdom.
2016 gave me the gift of physical ailments.
More than I had had before and pretty brutal ones.
So when the opportunity came for me to go and ‘heal’ and at the same time celebrate the next chapter of my life, at Gwinganna, um, I mean….blessed life right??
But truth be known, I went into Gwinganna wanting desperately to heal. To be better. To get rid of the illness completely and restore my body to it’s natural and happy space. I had high expectations. I had paid a lot of money. I had work to do in the world that was being inhibited by the lethargy. The pain. The heaviness.
I went to Gwinganna with the intention to rest. Recover. Restore. And I had the EXPECTATION that when I did that, for 5 days, all my symptoms would just go. Be gone. You know where this is headed hey?
While I was there, I forwent all the usual things that I would participate in.. All the mystical stuff like The Journey Work and Equine Therapy…mostly because I have done so much of this kind of thing in my life and instead replaced it with loads of massages, Ayurvedic treatments, Rockupuncture and nurturing. I chose all the gentle activities, where as the previous version of me would have chosen the high intensity stuff. I chose the softer more yin activities. I chose a different way.
“Yes. I’ll do all of those things because they will heal me. This place will heal me. Good. Lets get on with that”.
Some of you might know I have struggled to fall in love with yoga again after transitioning from something I love to something that became work when I began my yoga teacher training. It went from ‘ahhhh’ to ‘agggggrrrrrr’. And lots of things contributed to this, but mostly my EXPECTATION of how it would be. How it would go. How I would feel. And what it would GIVE me.
So when yoga was the yin option for one of the morning activities I thought, “good, I’ll give it a go, I know how much it helps heal. Maybe I will fall back in love with it”.
The teacher was awaiting us. Poised. Still. Ready. All the mats were laid out. Bolsters by the side and blankets to snuggle under during Shavasana. All I had to do was be present with my body.
I stepped on to my mat and we began. I exhaled. Ahhhhh. Yes. Here we are. This is home. Bend. Breathe. Stretch. Inhale. Exhale. Ahhh. Oh yoga, I do love you and my body loves you. I am so pleased to be home. Mmmm. Yummy.
And then it happened. True to form, true to my old ways what did I do? My mind went wandering off to how I was looking forward to resuming my teaching training again. My mind ran off to all the things I had not been doing, how I had wasted all this time and how I needed to get moving on it again. And just as I exhaled, what did I do?
In a simple lunge, I did what a lot of flexible folk do. I did what I often do in my life and in that moment I saw a direct reflection of how I can do life when I am not fully aware and present. I completely over-stretched. Completely. And instead of re-adjusting, I pushed. Instead of listening I ignored. And, in that moment, I created a pain that was to haunt me for the next 5 months. Ha. A direct refection of how I can do life sometimes.
So after the class, I did what everyone does at Gwinganna, I booked in another massage. But not a relaxation massage. No. Not a gentle massage. A remedial massage. And a deep one. Oh, the pain!
But I deserved it…right?
The other thing at Gwinganna that is challenging for some is the quiet time. Lots of quiet time. And often when us busy folk get quiet time…well, that is when our minds find the perfect opportunity to fill you in on EVERYTHING you haven’t been really paying attention to in the busy and the numb.
My crazy flat mate mind was on fire. “Jen, you came here to get fixed. To get better and now you are more broken than when you came in. All that money. All that time you could have been doing other stuff. If only you came when you were fucking healthy it would have been more worth while. Jeezus. What a waste”.
They kept on. Louder.
“Right”, I thought. “I have been doing this life thing long enough….you know what to do”.
So, I did what I have learnt to do and did it with reluctance and resistance. But I did it.
I retreated to my glorious room. I sat on the meditation cushion provided to all the guests and I did the thing I knew would help….but before I did, I got up off my cushion, I had to make my bed, straighten up my clothes, write a list of stuff I wanted to do when I left Gwinganna…and if we had mobile reception I would have text someone or checked Facebook or some other numbing-esk behaviour…I did all the procrastination things I could….
And I took a deep breath. And another. Reassured myself and it began.
I let my mind chatter and chatter AND chatter some more. Loud chatter. Some unintelligible. Mean. Horrible. Judgemental and harsh. I invited all of the chatter to be presented in one big foul go. I sat. Body so tight. Tears streaming down my face. The monkey mind went for it. Screeching. Yelling. Laughing. Mocking. I noticed the pain in my hip. And more mean. More bitter.
And isn’t it true, that actually, it isn’t the mean things that people say about us that hurts…really? Because isn’t it true in our silent moments we are far meaner to ourselves than anyone else could be to us?
We wouldn’t speak out loud those mean things to anyone we loved, would we? Would we? Would you spit venom at your best friend calling them all the worst things in the world? Would you?
But we do it so effortlessly to ourselves.
So I sat and I listened.
AND I ALLOWED MYSELF TO FEEL THE FULL FORCE OF IT.
To feel the disappointment. To feel the miss in expectations. To feel the judgement. To feel the hurt. The pain. To feel it. To allow it. To be with it. To hold it.
I brought in my internal nurturer to hold me as I took the hits. And I listened. And listened. And soon it sounded really sad. Not mean. Just sad. And soon, I saw the thoughts as really pained children. Sad. Neglected. Unheard. And soon, I softened. My body loosened and I let go. And I cried. Big cry. Snot flying self soothing sob.
And I felt it release.
And I could see myself as an imperfect human who had had seen that she was broken and needed fixing. But what she needed was to be heard, not judged and to be loved.
Just like we all want.
I am a recovering fixer. And when people come to me, my instinct is to fix.
And what I have come to see, is that I have been relentlessly trying to fix myself. But actually, all I needed to do was to listen to myself and to love all the dark and light aspects of myself.
And the more I do that, the less I want to fix others. Instead, I can hear them, offer some love and maybe an alternative perspective and then allow them to have their own life experience and find their own way back to themselves.
I am a recovering fixer and today, once again, I put down my tools.
I don’t need fixing. I just need to be loved. And that is my one job! Because when I do that, the love of others is effortless.
Turns out, life has a funny way of giving us what we need, not what we EXPECT we need!
Speak kindly to yourself
Big, big love