August 10, 2013 Hvar Island, Croatia

Om, Shanti, Peace, Namaste, This Sucks

“How do you feel this morning?” she asked the class.  The first thing that came to my mind after five days of intense heat, hard yoga classes, no meat, only grains, was “I want eggs!”  The next day we had eggs.  They must have squeezed the chickens to lay eggs, as these were the first eggs I had all week.

I joined a weeklong yoga retreat and typical of my ‘new approach to life’ I did not research much, did not read the website, and pretty much just showed up.  I participated in many yoga retreats so of course had a base level of expectations.  Bad idea.  To avoid disappointments, the best approach is to not have any expectations.  The day before coming, I did complete the registration form.  It asked what I wanted to get out of the yoga week.  All I wrote was – open to anything.

That is exactly what I got.  Anything and everything and nothing in terms of staying cool as there was no air conditioning in my room.  If I wanted to sweat day and night then I would have gone to an ashram in India and stayed for free and not 145 euro a night.  All these euros also got me a bedroom in a shared house with a shared bathroom, drop offs to scheduled locations around the island that also included a bonus prize of ten hours in Hvar town with temperatures approaching 40 Celsius (104 Fahrenheit), no wind and a million people.  We are told we are also here for Karma yoga – also known as – we have chores yoga. That means we have to help set the table, clean up our dishes, take the sheets from the bed before we leave, etc. Basically clean up your mess and be thankful for it.

This is the army.  I even paid to be scolded by the yoga general.  The website should have said:  Warning.  Groups are limited to one pot of tea per day so whoever pours it each morning must allocate one pot among all cups.  Geez, I got my head bit off the first day when I poured full cups of tea and ran out before all had some.  My bad.  My mantra is breathe, don’t complain, this sucks, breathe, be gracious for this experience, this sucks, breathe.

As a good yogi I try everyday to be positive and to send loving light to yoga teacher.  It is not working.  I wake up, go to the yoga mat, and get pissed off.  She says in a calm, sweet, voice “See smiling energy in the corner of your eyes.”  I cringe.  Yoga teacher’s rude communication style and delivery is impacting all of us.  Who are ‘all of us’?  There are five others in the group. Two genuine, lovely ladies from the UK are my housemates, a Dutch couple who are perfect for each other and give us single ladies hope for how a relationship should be, and a fun-loving, laughing woman from Amsterdam.

Like attracts like and our thoughts create our reality.  That which you really, really want you get.  And that which you really, really do not want you get.  That’s not fair and means when you draw your thoughts to something that you do not want then it will for sure happen. Confused?  Here is an example.  It is so hot in Croatia and I do not want to be hot at night and will not be happy if I show up at this yoga retreat and there is no air conditioning.  Those were my thoughts before arriving and that is what I got.  I should have directed my thoughts to the things I wanted and not to the things I did not want.  Complicated.  If you want to learn more just ‘google’ the law of attraction.  What I do know is that I keep meeting people who I really enjoy to be with.  Even though I am traveling alone, the people I connect with are really nice, funny, stimulating and have great energy.  So, here we are a group of great people all in the same boat.

The group bonds as we spend each day with each other, as we are kindly escorted from the house during the day.  After the second day, we begin to speak with each other about the retreat.  We learn that we are all experiencing the same feelings.  Things that happen are so comical that no one outside the retreat can really understand.  We decide to laugh and make the best of the situation.  I end up offering advice, calming wisdom, and inspiration.  My nurturing way kicks in and I am happy to help.  As each day progresses my mantras are loving and kind and I am less annoyed.  Hmm, something is happening, the yoga and meditations are working.

In the end, the retreat was not what I expected.  However, often what happens instead is even better.  I conclude that the six of us are here to learn a lesson.  Other people make an excellent mirror and often the people who annoy us the most, well, let’s be honest, the things that annoy us are the same things that we also do.

For me, I see a little bit of yoga teacher in me.  I bite my tongue each day and hold myself back from telling her off.  Very hard for me, but I did it.  Before biting back, one must look closely as what it is that annoys you.  Often these are the things that you do that annoy other people too.  When I was working and stressed out, I often rushed through the day, controlling the project, lived by strict plans and schedules, and at times my communication style and delivery were abrupt.  I was overwhelmed and unhappy in my job.  People felt offended just as I did this week.  The retreats are a lot of work for yoga teacher and she is stressed out.  So get a new job, work in a cooler climate, do something.

At the end I can say that I am thankful in so many ways for this week.  There is beauty in everything, lessons to be learned, and life to live.  Now for the moment you have all been waiting for…drum roll…Welcome to the Hvar Island Late Night Show staring yoga teacher.  The list of the top lessons learned and to my dear friends who shared the week with me, you know which ones are for you.

6.  Simplify your life. Remove the clutter to open your mind and space to receive clarity.  It is a process and takes time so focus and prioritize the things that you want to happen. It takes a thought to get it rolling, but action to create the momentum to move you to where you want to be.  Don’t forget, we have to allow room for the universe to act too.

5.  New love is waiting to be created each day.  Regardless of what happened in the past, today is the day to begin again.  Rekindle your love with your partner, yourself, your friends, your family, or send loving thoughts to the soulmate you haven’t met yet.  It is never too late.

4.  Cut the cord from people who suck your energy or who add no value to your life. Be strong and create a shield to protect yourself from other people’s negative energy.  Most important, these people who suck your energy also have the power to project their insecurity onto you.  Don’t absorb it, don’t let their bad feelings accumulate inside of you, and learn one of the most powerful tools – Don’t take things personally.

3.  Stand up for yourself, move off the ‘yoga mat’ if that is not where you want to be.  If you don’t want to do something, say no.  Often we say yes too much and end up sacrificing ourselves for others, even when the others don’t appreciate it.   Learning to say no in a kind way is one of the most freeing and liberating things to do in life.

2.  Laughter is the best medicine.  Approaching difficulties in life with a child-like perspective helps people move on from the pain.  If you have the gift to laugh and make others laugh even though you have suffered in the past, then you have been blessed by ‘someone special’ and can always help others in their quest to move on from painful experiences.

1.  Abundance exists for everyone.  Have faith that the universe, divine, god, or whatever you believe in is working in your favor.  Like attracts like.  Feel yourself as bliss, joy, love, light and that is what you will get back.  Abandon old habits of negative thinking and drawing conclusions based on fear and negativity.  This will stop you from getting what you want and need.  Direct your thoughts to what you want and deeply believe that there is unlimited abundance accessible at all times.

And just in case you are in a situation while meditating by a church at night with a cemetery nearby, please be sure to have your flashlight, running sneakers for a fast escape, and say out loud – Only that which is of the light may enter.  Everyone else, get OUT and that includes bad ghosts.

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