Last weekend I taught my last residential retreat. 10 years ago I finished grad school and took myself on a personal retreat at The Yoga Lodge. I spent my days playing pine comb fetch with Maggie, the Lodge pup pictured above, or sitting with Houdini, the Lodge cat, drooling on me while I pet him. I took several classes from the Lodge owner, Wendy, and restored myself after the grind of my graduate program. I had only been teaching yoga 2 years at that time, and I thought maybe I could offer a retreat. And maybe this would be the perfect place. I booked my first group retreat at the end of that personal retreat.
In the past 10 years of teaching retreats I had amazing opportunities: to work with my partner as he catered my first two retreats, to meet countless participants through the years who have challenged me, supported me and encouraged me to keep growing, to become deeper friends with Maggie and Houdini and to grieve the loss of their friendship when they passed away, to cultivate a delightful friendship with Wendy, the lodge owner, and to simply watch my system get a little more settled every time I arrived onto the island.
The Lodge and Whidbey Island have become special personal spaces for me as well. It is where I learned how much I love birding, where I return to when I need time and space to heal, where I lost my beloved dog for almost 2 days, and where I pick some of my favorite rocks (which now grace the RBY bathroom).
When I arrived to the Lodge for this retreat I saw a garter snake, and as the weekend went on I kept thinking about the snake’s way of shedding their skin as they grow.
I realized how ready I was to shed this particular way of teaching, at least for now. It felt right and my mind felt at ease, but I kept waiting for sadness, regret and bittersweet feelings to come. The mind is a funny thing in that sometimes it can not accept what is even when it is pleasant! I kept waiting for the hard feelings to arise because I believed they should arise. There was a muting of my contentment in preparation for the grief.
When I got home I had a dream of death and birth, and the next thing is all ready in motion. I am looking forward to retreating while in our daily lives, to put our practices to use within our everyday moments, and to do shorter retreats that can be more accessible to more people. The next daylong retreat, focusing on JOY, is Sunday, September 10 with multiple pricing options. Go here to learn more!
I look forward to seeing you on and off the mat.