Recently, I did something that I was absolutely dreading. I went on a five day yoga retreat in Sutton, Quebec. Sounds brutal, right?
In it of itself, I wasn’t dreading the retreat. 5 days of yoga and workshops with a solid group of people I love. No need to cook, I’d be served glorious vegetarian food every meal. Fresh air, a cozy cabin to myself…
But I was not looking forward to leaving Babe and Bug. Some of you, whether you are parents or not, will understand this and some of you won’t. I had never, ever, spent a single night away from my Bug. No longer does he need me to fall asleep. Sometimes he still nurses to sleep, but those times are rarer and rarer. He can fall asleep with Papa or a babysitter. Babe also does not “need” me to function day to day. We invested, bug time, with this Attachment Parenting thing, and see how it’s paid off. Again, some of you will understand this and some won’t, and that’s okay. I had left Babe a couple of times as a doula, two nights for our “honeymoon,” when I was 6-months pregnant with Bug, and another time when my friend Rebecca convinced me to go with her to the Eastern Townships when Babe was nearly 2!
Just now, I went back and read that post about the Eastern Townships, and it was a very similar thing, the feelings I was having as I was about to embark on my Happy Tree Yoga Hatha Teacher Training retreat at Au Tournant Du Coeur. But this time for 4 nights. The what if’s? What if they got sick? What if there was an emergency?
Just like the time Rebecca and I went to the blueberry gite, no emergency. No nothing. If they needed me, they could call. This was not a Vipassana retreat (although Au Tournant Du Coeur is at the old Sutton Vipassana centre and we did have one day of silence). The whole family made it through quite happily. Including me! When I voiced my concerns to friends, they mostly tried to assure me I’d be “fine,” once I got there. I didn’t think I would be. Especially on that day of silence. I’d be lost in my own thoughts and start to panic. The last time someone suggested something so preposterous, was the same Rebecca who tried to entice me to Strom for a day at the spa. Instead I went to a private clinic and insisted on a prescription for anti-anxiety meds. Truth. The idea of being left alone with our thoughts can be frightening.
This was one of the biggest realizations I had on my retreat. Kicked off by this funny and true clip by Louis CK, which we watched at the retreat. Feel free to watch it. It’s funny and relate-able. I doubt I’m the only one who sends a text when I’m sitting in a split-second of terrifying silence. And yes, I do do the yoga and meditation thing. That’s how real this is!
Especially the day of silence and juicing, I realized that I talk too much and eat too much. That I’ve been foolishly (humanly) looking for distractions instead of dealing with the real life things that need to be dealt with. It’s the thing about texting or going on Facebook instead of sitting quietly. The thing about bolting when a relationship gets hard. About taking up something new instead of challenging yourself to get to the next level of difficulty. So often we look outside of ourselves for answers. for love. for acceptance. compassion. But we don’t need to look any further than our own heart. Truly. I know this in theory, but it was interesting to finally see how it has been playing out in my own life.
I don’t plan on taking another retreat anytime soon. Although I have a newfound confidence in my the birth doula-ing that I have been (re)committing to. As I mentioned in our closing circle in Sutton, I am so glad that this retreat was obligatory. Just like I say to the moms who come to my Mom and Baby Yoga classes, “This might be the only time you relax this week, so please, emprofite!”
Here’s to relaxing and self-care when no one is forcing us to do so…