My Inner Mystic

reflections and insight into my healing, transformation, and journey of the heart <3

Category Archives: yoga retreat

A Curious Synchronicity: the WIND

I am back from south of the equator where I spent nearly 2 weeks in Peru. I dined on the delicious cuisine of Cusco, I gazed upon the amazing Andes, I visited famous Inca sites such as Saqsaywaman, Pisac, and of course the magnificent and bejeweled Machu Picchu.

Machu Picchu - flyingHowever, none of these sites or experiences stands out as much in my heart and mind as a most curious synchronicity at play in my life those last days I was in Peru.

I spent Thursday, July 24 grounding at our retreat center in Peru after 2 long days scaling the ancient rocks of Machu Picchu. As I journaled in the heart ❤ chakra garden, I noticed the wind. At some point during the day I learned that our shaman, who was to lead our cleansing, awakening, and re-birth ceremony the next day, had been traveling in Ecuador and hadn’t been in contact for some time. We were assured by the retreat center owner that he was on his way. His name, Wayra, means wind. The WIND was telling us that he was indeed on his way.

On Friday, July 25 it rained – a cleansing for Pachamama, mother earth. Wayra arrived late afternoon before our ceremony began at 8 pm. Eight brave souls, myself included, participated in the sacred shamanic ceremony. We each drank the plant medicine “potion” prepared by Wayra. For the next five hours, Wayra whistled and sang medicine songs, rattled, played harmonica, smoked big, fat rolled up tobacco leaves, blowing smoke around himself and others, continually cleansing and clearing the energies in the room.  Wayra tended to each of us, physically or energetically, chanting “cleansing, cleansing” and “healing, healing.”

At the end of the ceremony Wayra cleared and closed each of us – he sucked the energy out of my crown portal and spat into a refuse bin, he blew tobacco smoke all around me, including down the front and back of my shirt, he spat a spray of flower water in my face, he cleansed the energy in my hands, he whispered blessings and protections. I remember looking into his face after he pulled me out of my experience. I was startled and felt a little contraction of fear. He looked different than the forty something man who led us into the ceremony. In his face, I saw many shadows and folds – I saw the face of an ancient, timeless shaman; I saw the face of a medicine man.

8 & Wayra

The next day, Saturday, July 26, I reflected back on a poem I wrote about the wind last Thanksgiving day weekend after I spent several days walking in the wind and meditating on its qualities. I revisited my poem and was particularly struck by these passages, which almost perfectly describes Wayra’s presence during our ceremony:

 The wind is nowhere and everywhere.
The wind is a mover and a shaker.

The wind blows in and blows out.
The wind moves the rain in and dries the rain out.

The wind draws tears from my eyes.

See it. Hear it. Feel it.

I let the wind wash over me and around me.
I let it hold me.
I let it refresh me.

What a most curious synchronicity, an accidental premonition. Without knowing it, I was inviting Wayra into my life to assist me in clearing out old, stagnant energies, which is exactly what I experienced during our ceremony. I purged something. I don’t know what. All I know is it’s gone, that I felt and feel spacious inside my chest cavity, my heart ❤ center.

Meanwhile, back in Seattle, another wind was blowing through my life. My new friend Rosh, a connection I made at the start of 2014 while on retreat in Maui, was in town for a Seattle Blind Cafe and staying at my house. This was a first for me. I’ve *never* let someone stay as a guest at my house when I’ve been out of town. Here I was, down in Peru, on the opposite side of the equator, letting some man I’ve really only spent a week, a blind cafe, sporadic email exchanges, and a few phone calls getting to know inhabit my house and have total access to all my belongings.

my inner mystic & Rosh

But…I trust Rosh completely and I didn’t have an ounce of anxiety after I said yes to him “moving into” my house. I was completely ok with his windy/vata energy (code for scattered, a wee bit messy, and kinda accident prone) “living in” my house. Being the more grounded/kapha-ish sort (code for organized and tidy), I noticed and felt the effects of his windy energy when I returned home. I was ok with it and in fact, I found it refreshing to have Rosh’s energy stir and move things around in my house, both literally and figuratively. What good practice for me to be ok with someone being in my sacred space, to welcome someone so fully into my life, and most importantly to TRUST.

At the same time (literally) I was entrusting Rosh with my house, I was also cultivating a trust with Wayra and the plant medicine, learning to trust the plant’s intelligence and wisdom. Out of that trust, I received a most precious lesson and gift from the wind.

Let the wind blow through me. Let the wind clear out stagnant energy. Like the rain, the wind is cleansing and the strongest of winds can be both transformative and healing.

Let … the… wind … in … (and TRUST) !

a WILD BIRTHday

Five years ago – June 27, 2009 – was my wedding day.

my inner mystic wedding day

For four of the past five years I’ve taken myself some place for this anniversary – Italy, Bali, France, and Spain. Those first years it was especially important for me to get away, to take care of myself around this date. I’ve created a lot of new meaning and transformed what June 27 represents in my life. Instead of representing the beginning of the end, the explosion of my 10 year relationship just weeks after our wedding day, this date has become a celebration, an anniversary of my journey of discovery, transformation, and awakening.

That first anniversary was the biggest and the beginning of me reclaiming and transforming what June 27 means in my life. I remember saying to myself and writing in my journal something along the lines of, “my wedding day was the biggest day of my life, but this day is bigger; this day is the beginning of my NEW life.”

June 27, 2010 was the very first day of my first ever yoga retreat. That day, in the hills of Umbria in Italy, I did the biggest yoga poses of my life – adho mukha vrksasana (handstand), pincha mayurasana (peacock), and urdhva dhanurasana (wheel) – with help, of course. Reflecting back I find it very curious that the retreat leader chose me to demo supported wheel pose. I’m pretty sure every single retreat participant supported me in getting up into the pose. Wheel was the pose that did it, the pose that cracked my heart open.

At lunch after our morning yoga I started to feel shaky, started to feel my emotions rising to the surface. I found a safe, secluded, and sheltered spot under some oak trees. I lay down in the middle of a country lane and sobbed uncontrollably for hours – what a most glorious sob-fest. I remember having a sense that the branches of the trees overhead were embracing me. I remember visualizing my closest friends, and all those that supported me through my personal tragedy, in a circle around me.

country lane

Before I left my refuge under the canopy of oak trees, I went to each of the trees and thanked each one for holding me, for creating this space for me.  I stopped at the last tree, was about to thank it, but noticed it was being choked by ivy, its branches broken.  I realized this tree was not part of the “circle” of trees that had supported and held me; its branches were separate from the other trees.  In this tree, I saw him – broken and diseased. Tears came to my eyes. I paused and then pulled myself away from that tree.  I walked away.  I let go.  I headed down the lane back to the villa, but I knew I was setting out on my own path, my journey into my new life.

This year, four years from that day in Italy and five years from my wedding date, was the first year I was home for this anniversary. Five years. Half a decade, I knew I wanted to do something BIG, something sacred to honor myself and this anniversary. Four weeks before my anniversary, I realized June 27 would be a new moon and in that instant a WILD idea lit up in my mind: run WILD and naked in the woods. In the span of one afternoon, I created a vision for a sacred ceremony and WILD adventure.

Last Friday, June 27, 2014, nine of us, myself and 8 other spirited souls, shared a  wild.  exhilarating.  enlivening.  expansive.  liberating.  night together.  I have never laughed and screamed (in shock and glee) so hard in my life. Felt so good.  What a release!!!

The night was magical. Smudging. Calling in energies. Circle. blue Knots. Screeching owls (pretty much on que).  Fire. Sharing / Being witnessed. Poetry. Personal Vows. Dancing. Playful exhibition. Screaming. Running naked in the dark. Running naked in the rain. Howls. Cackles. Laughter. Reflection. Rain sizzling. Rain steaming. on our warm, bright fire. Blessings. Singing. Love. JOY.

circle-fire

I vow to realize my full potential.

I vow to realize my life’s purpose, to do what I am meant to do on this earth and in this life.

Though we gathered to honor my anniversary, the experience was shared and touched and moved each person present in different ways. One woman shared, “I haven’t had this much fun in a very long time.” Another woman said something to the effect of, “I feel like a part of me came back to life.” Yet another woman said, “It was very healing and really powerful to see you ASK to be witnessed.  It was exhilarating to be naked in the rain and to run into the dark.” Another expressed that she was humbled to be in company with others who were meeting their edge and stepping outside their comfort zones.

I slept soundly that night. I felt at peace, contented. I received a highly symbolic message in my dreams. One of my teachers and model of ritual and sacred ceremony, Cosetta Romani, wrote a note for me that said:

HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

Beyond my own self-expansion, my experience of creating and officiating a sacred ceremony to honor myself and my anniversary has revealed my unique gifts and birthed a new dream: a dream to be a CELEBRANT, to create sacred rituals and ceremonies to remember, honor, and celebrate life.

my inner mystic smudging

These wounds
washed by rain, both fierce and gentle
warmed by light, both harsh and tender
become the furrows
where seeds long buried burst their hardened hulls at last
And fall gently into the fertile earth, made rich by cruel disaster.

Dreams long stifled dare to send forth tender shoots

to grow…..

(from a poem written for me for my anniversary by my good friend, Kristen)

A seed has burst through its hull!!!

My new dream was officially born on July 1, 2014, my deceased brother’s 44th birthday. My brother died of brain cancer at the age of 27.

Grazie Mille, Cosetta, for the inspiration. Thank you, Robert, for planting Cosmic seeds. Thank you, Kristen, for the beautiful poem, for truly understanding the depths of my pain and wounding. Thank you, naked Rosh, for inspiring me to grow and stretch, to love and be love.

Thank you most of all to the 8 spirited souls who trusted me, showed up with open hearts, and filled the forest with laughter and de LIGHT!  What a hoot!

Maui Magic = LOVE

I am shining like the Maui sun.  I am on a high.  I am in love with Maui, with my Maui pod, with life, with the stars in the sky.

I returned late Sunday night from an ePic 13 day adventure on the magical island paradise of Maui.  I spent the first week on my own and had a lot of time to contemplate the night sky and the stars.  I became curious about the stars and asked myself, “what’s a star?”  While we were watching a sunset together I asked my pod mate, Wayne, and he gave me his PhD answer which I’ll synthesize:  stars are made up of gases and the gases are drawn together by gravity.  These gases undergo an elemental transformation which produces a burst of luminous light and BAM – stars!

Last night after yoga I was sharing with my one of my favorite teachers, Denise, about my adventure in Maui.  Her theme for our classes for January and February is Heaven and Earth.  I was connecting to her theme by sharing what I had learned about the stars and BAM, a wave of insight flowed through me.

The synergy and synchronization in my Maui pod was absolutely amazing.  More than once, we’d find ourselves saying the exact same thing at the exact same time in the exact same rhythm.  I remember this happened with me and Rosh a couple of times; I remember one time we said, “I think so” in response to a query from Shayna.  We’d anticipate each other’s thoughts or after one of us shared the other would say, “I was just thinking that exact same thought!”  This happened with me and Shayna a LOT.  Talk about cosmic synchronization and subtle energy exchanges (synergy).

Chatting with Denise, I was reflecting back how stunned I was and am at the laws of attraction that were at play with our group in Maui.  I remember having this conversation with Rosh one night, expressing, “did I attract YOU or did you attract ME??”  I think he had the same answer as my teacher, Denise, “probably a bit of both.”

The whole chemistry and alchemy of the group was incredible.  I saw in each of us a reflection of each other.  Each of us is at a different place on the same spectrum of light, but clearly living in the same light.  Each of us transmits light from amazingly beautiful qualities and some of these qualities shine more brightly in some of us, but we all shine with the same light and we are all moving toward the fullness of the light and the fullness of ourselves.  That light is what brought us together, the six of us – 3 men, 3 women – just like the forces in the sky that pull the gases together to create luminous light.  The light that brought us together is LOVE ❤.

heart rock - Haleakala

RoshRosh… I love you for your larger than life personality and I am admittedly star-struck.  I love your playfulness, your ePic sense of adventure, your ballsiness, your upbeat spirit, your self-awareness, your presence, your openness, your honesty, your creativity, your passion, your hopes, your dreams, especially your dream to be a father.  I love you for the Hope you gave me.  I love you for your good vibes.  I love the cuddle bug in you and the shy, sweet guy – he’s adorable (love that guy!).  And…I love you for your fist bump! 🙂  I love you Rosh.

WayneWayne… I love the man behind the mask and veils, the guy that lets his hair down and lets loose, who has fun and smiles and laughs, the guy that allows his feelings to come to the surface and permeate his being.  I connect with that guy.  I love that you are becoming that guy more fully.  And…I love you for your generosity, your thoughtfulness, your intention, your bright mind, and for being Wayne.  I love you Wayne.

Kyra @ Coconut Glen's

Kyra… I love you for your smile, your grace and ease, your boundless energy, and your giving and loving spirit.  I love you for your strength and for your vulnerability.  I love your maturity and self-awareness.  I love the natural, gifted teacher in you.  I admire her very much.  I love you for the love you give to others, especially in the food you cook and whip up. I love you Kyra.

JoshJosh… I love you for your sweet, innocent nature, for your thoughtfulness, for your kindness, for your care for others.  I love you for your brazen courage, for your curiosity, for your desire to learn and explore, for your sense of discovery, for your vivid imagination, and most of all, for the boldness and mindfulness and freedom you are cultivating in your life.  I love you Josh.

ShaynaShayna…You are soooo beautiful, inside and out.  I love you for your spaciousness, for your flexibility, for your burgeoning health, for the nourishment you give to others with your loving, affirming, and encouraging words.  I love you for your appreciation of nature, for your humility, for your mindfulness, for your openness, and for your willingness and desire to learn from others.  I love you for your love of all beings, just as they are, for your ability to meet them right where they are and your gift to help them blossom and grow into their fullest, brightest selves.  I love you Shayna.

Bright Joy

I love you Bobbi Jean, Bright Joy, for your laugh, your courage, your tenacity, your fire, your strength, your thoughtfulness, your presence, your sensitivity, your playfulness, and your child-like spirit.  I love you for your devotion, loyalty, humility, and integrity.  I love you for your insatiable curiosity and desire to learn and grow, for your willingness and eagerness to go deep, to explore the depths of your self and the depths of relationship.  I love you for your insight, for your bright spirit.  I love you most of all for your open-heartedness.  You have been through so much and yet you stand strong, heart open.  You are an amazing being, a bright, JOYful light.  You are a gift to this world and I love you.

Maui pod

to my Maui pod, with so, so, SO much LOVE ❤

Visioning the Future

I am sitting in my office having my Monday morning cup of coffee and two apple-carrot-bran muffins that I made over the weekend.  The sun is filtering through colorful fall leaves and shining through the window.  I glance at my calendar – October 14, 2017.   Today is the official publication date for my collection of personal essays.  Hooray!  I am filled with gratitude and joy as I reflect back on the last few very rich and nourishing years of my life.

I finished my master’s degree in counseling at the end of 2016.  At the start of this year, I started a therapy practice with my friend and colleague, Jo.  I met Jo through NVC (non-violent communication) and we went through the master’s program together.  We co-facilitate a grief group.  We also co-facilitate a community group for those who long to deepen connection with others.  We model this group after the NVC learning community led by our revered mentor and teacher, Karl.  I also meet one on one with clients who are going through life transitions, who are healing from emotional trauma and childhood wounds, and families who are working through discord.  I am so grateful to have a partner in this work and the support of many dear friends.

I received my yoga teacher certification at the end of 2014.  I was invited by my friend and peer, Erin, to teach classes at Awakened Heart Yoga.  I have taught weekly yoga classes for nearly three years now.  My favorite class to teach is a youth yoga class.  I also teach free youth yoga classes at community centers around Seattle.  I LOVE teaching youth – I am so passionate about inspiring youth to discover their power and access their well of strength.

As I gaze out the window on the sun filled landscape, my mind travels to the sunny island paradise of Maui where, along with dear friends and fellow yoga teachers, I have co-hosted three New Year’s yoga retreats.  Maui is such a magical place.  Each New Year we dance under rainbows, we swim in the sacred waters of the re-birthing pools, we moonbathe on the beach, we practice yoga in an open air pavilion, we meditate under a wise looking banyan tree.  I send yet another thank you note via cosmic messenger to my beautiful friend Jessica for co-hosting with me that first year.  We were so blessed by the outpouring of support from our community of friends and many of our dearest friends retreated with us.

I remain grateful for the cosmic unfolding that led me to my first retreat in Maui where, for the 2014 New Year I reconnected with the beautiful Shayna, a dear soul I met in Costa Rica during my 2012 New Year’s retreat.  For seven years now a New Year’s yoga retreat has been a yearly tradition that grew out of my new life.  You see, I had been in a long term committed relationship for nearly 10 years that ended in a giant “ka-boom” in 2009.  I was devastated, hurt to my very core.  Creating new traditions was an important part of my healing.

At my first New Year’s retreat in 2011 (also in Costa Rica), I discovered a new family, my yoga family.  At this retreat and so many others, I have made a network of friends and some of my most cherished friendships.  I also discovered how meaningful it is to start the year with intention, to plant seeds for qualities I wish to cultivate in my life, to plant seeds for things I long for and desire to grow in my life.  Each year I come away with momentum that moves me forward along my path.  Each year I see flowers blossom and fruit bearing trees sprout up from the seeds I plant in my heart.

I remember New Year’s Day, 2014.  I planted a seed under the new moon for the family I longed for in my life.  At 37, I had a strong desire and calling to be a mom, to create life with someone I loved, and to share the joy of raising a little being together.  At the time I didn’t know what would happen, I didn’t know when someone who wore sturdy shoes, who gazed at the new moon, and who had an open heart would skip into my life.  But he did.  He showed up in my life and he gave me the powerful gift of his presence.  Remembering the moment he skipped into my life brings a smile to my face and my heart fills with warmth as I hold him in my awareness.  I feel love permeate my being.  We had small ceremony in the woods.  My sweet friend Katy wrote and read a poem.   I remember so very clearly these words:  “such bravery to hold out your hand to another person, one Life Line traced by another.”

I feel a kick that brings me out of my reverie and back to the present moment.  I put my hand on my belly and feel the movement inside.   I am pregnant.  In just a few short months, I will give birth to a little bundle of joy, a bundle that I have a feeling is going to crack my heart wide open and out will pour love. I wonder if this baby will be a New Year’s baby.  What a lovely thought.  I will have to wait and see how the stars in the sky line up.  However the stars line up, I already know I am incredibly blessed.

Shedding Weight

No, I’m not talking about a new year’s diet to shed any extra pounds I might have accumulated in 2012.  No, what I’m talking about is shedding another kind of weight I carry in my body.

I spent my new year’s holiday at a week long yoga retreat in the jungle slopes of Mexico above the Pacific Ocean.

yoga pavilion

At the end of our morning yoga practice on New Year’s Eve day, our teacher invited us to devote part of the day reflecting on what we wanted to let go of from 2012.  She encouraged us to do some journaling, which I did.  In the space of the jungle canopy I didn’t come up with anything concrete.

At our afternoon practice, our teacher announced we’d have a New Year’s Eve bonfire on the beach. She told us to bring what we’d written, a statement or list of what we wanted to let go of.  We would offer this to the fire as an expression, an intention, of letting go.  I didn’t have anything written for the fire. *sigh* I hadn’t come up with anything concrete.

As I showered before dinner, I searched my mind.  What could I offer to the fire to represent something I wanted to let go of?  It struck me.  Heaviness.  I knew that I wanted to let go of the heaviness in my body.  I wanted to let go of the emotions, the pain and the wounds that are held deep in body and hinder my ability to feel freedom.  How would I express my heaviness?  A rock.  I decided I would put a rock into the fire.

As we gathered, my idea of putting a rock into the fire started to feel inadequate.  After all the fire wasn’t going to burn my rock.  The rock might get hot, but it would not combust and turn to ash.  I decided to expand my symbolic offering.  I turned to the slope above the beach and dug around in the undergrowth.  I grabbed a leaf, a fallen branch, and some kind of nut or seed.  As I grabbed these items, I knew what each would symbolize.  I could see in my mind’s eye the story my offering would tell.

new year's eve fire

Listless (literally, without a list), it was my turn to put my items into the fire, to let the fire consume what I wanted to let go of from 2012.  Kneeling before the fire, I made my offering, reciting silently.

To the fire I offer this leaf.  This leaf represents shedding.  To the fire I offer this rock.  This rock represents the heaviness, the weight, the emotional wounds I carry in my body.  May I shed this weight, may I be free from the hurt and pain of these wounds.  To the fire I offer this branch, the roots of the sky.  This branch, like the neural pathways of my mind, represents old ways of doing things, old ways of thinking.  I offer this branch to symbolize that I am letting go of old ways of doing and thinking that no longer serve me.  To the fire I offer this seed.  This seed represents the possibility for new growth to emerge in 2013.  May the fire burst this seed open and give it life.  May this seed grow and blossom and thrive.

So that was it, my beautiful and symbolic offering, one that felt very authentic to me.

Now that I’m back in Seattle I’m beginning to get a sense of what the rock is made of, its matter, its substance.  I think it hit me when a woman I work with told me she liked my earrings and I said, “Thanks.  They’re from a friend who is no longer a friend.”  There it was again, – the hurt that continues to come up in my dreams, continues to come up in conversations with my friends.  The rock’s matter is my hurt over this broken friendship, a hurt I’ve had a really hard time letting go of, a deep wound I’ve been carrying around, not just in 2012, but for over two years.

A few weeks before the one year anniversary of the ka-boom, my closest friend of 15 years, the first person I turned to in shock and anguish over the explosion of my relationship, effectively ended our friendship.  One day without any kind of fore-warning, she sent me an email and told me she was exhausted from the support she had extended to me.  She told me she needed a breather, time to recalibrate.  She told me that out of respect for her, not to contact her. I did contact her, just once.  I said over voice mail, “for the sake of our friendship, I think we need to talk.”  I expressed that I valued our friendship.  We never talked.  I have not heard from her since that last email nearly two and a half years ago.

The anger and the hurt have lessened, but I still carry the weight of this unresolved wound.  Like I said, it still comes up in dreams, in conversations.  I continue to wrestle with the lack of closure.  There was never any conversation, no opportunity to express my hurt, my outrage at being abandoned when I was still fragile, when I still needed support from my friends.

The severing of ties was one sided.  It felt as if the door had been shut in my face.  I was left with the disturbing feeling that I’d been broken up with.  My “friend’s” action to retreat, to remove herself from and effectively end our friendship felt and still feels very deliberate and intentional.  I think that is what has hurt the most – her actions have felt so deliberate.  My sense that my “friend” knowingly brought so much lasting hurt into my life by choosing to end our friendship has bothered me deeply for so very long.

No amount of comfort or consoling words has taken away the pain.  No amount of reflection, perspective, or insight has taken the soreness out of the wound.  After all this time, I have been unable to find a sense of wholeness, to fully mend the tear in my heart.  The anger and the hurt have dulled, but I continue to search inside for the closure I need to finally shed the weight of this wound.  I have learned this along the way:  deep wounds weigh the most.

And so out of this New Year’s Eve offering, not just to the fire, but to the Universe, comes an intention for 2013:  to find closure, to shed weight.