It’s 5:39 am and I am wide-awake. Last night I got back from a yoga retreat at an eco-resort in Belize where each day we explored one of the seven chakras, energy centers distributed throughout our bodies. For the first time in awhile I feel absolutely replenished. I feel centered, solid, good, and am returning with a clarity that is deeply nourishing.
As I woke up in my bed in San Francisco this morning, the first thing that struck me was a deep thirst for nature. A draw to continue the cycle of waking up naturally with sunrise, making my way out to the beach for breakfast and slowly receiving the day before walking the dock to morning yoga. To be in a natural space that is so overwhelming beautiful that it infiltrates your being, stripping away all of the junk crowding out your soul.
One of the things that I found most beautiful about the experience was the ritual of starting and ending the day with yoga and meditation. We quickly fell into a daily cycle of walking the dock to the pagoda, rolling out our mats and arriving to begin our practice. It was one of the most beautiful environments and energizing activities I’ve encountered.
As we would sit there in meditation, I could feel the breeze from the ocean on my skin, still warm from the sun. In downward dog, I would look between my legs, to encounter an upside down explosion of turquoise sea, stretching out in all of its glory. At dusk the sun would shoot through the pagoda and I could smell the sea intermingled with gentle incense.
Lying in shavasana, I listened to the sound of water lapping underneath the pagoda in a mesmerizing rhythm. Streams of air would shoot up through the cracks between the floorboards, diagonal lines of sea wind tickling my skin. One morning during meditation, I opened my eyes and turned my head towards the sea, just in time to catch a glimpse of a giant stingray flying through the water beside me. It was nothing short of majestic.
At the beginning of the retreat, our instructors Natalie and Matt, told us that purpose of the retreat would be renewal. They explained that in its simplest form renewal is about leading with the spirit and getting new again. It made me think that we are always becoming new again and in other words renewal is really about the cycle of life. To no longer renew is to come to the end of our journey. So in many ways, renewal is about life-giving and holding clarity. What a beautiful thing.
One way to do this is what Natalie described as “crowding out.” Add so much vitality and good stuff into your life that there’s no longer room for the empty stuff that weighs us down and takes up space. The laughter, the lack of technology, the delicious, fresh, healthy food, the beautiful natural space, the simple ritual of the day – all of this contributed to reaching a state of replenishment.
In reflecting on the past week, the one thing that has persisted and risen to the surface for me with great clarity is quite simply this:
I want to feel good more than I want to feel in control of life.
With this new perspective, my priorities become clear. Underlying it is the understanding that I am only afforded clarity because I have allowed myself to replenish. There’s no grasping, fogginess, or unrecognized deeper agitation. I feel peaceful, strong, centered and truly content. This is the power of replenishment. It is simple but extremely challenging. It’s a responsibility that I accept and am committing to. Now comes the work of living it out in small ways every day.