I’m lying on a chaise lounge situated in about five inches of cool water. The sound of the sea is not quite ominous, but the surf is crashing, exploding in a way that I can feel in my bones. She has my full attention. The cloudless sky above is painted in a variety of blues from our familiar Carolina blue to the softest, barely baby blue. The rooster in charge of the farm nearby crows round the clock, all day every day and this afternoon is no exception. I’m guessing he takes his rest from about 12-4am, because other than that, he’s making his presence known. I’m ever listening for the cow bell clang cacophony from the herd of goats that wander the adjacent property and sand “road” around our perimeter. I’d like to say there is a gentle breeze, but the truth is, the wind is whipping wildly — from no particular direction at all and everywhere at once. Being in the middle of the desert, right next to the untamed sea is such an oddity to me. The air is at once dry and humid. The sun is penetrating (and perpetually frying my skin regardless of SPF #), it rises early and sets late. It’s my last day at Prana del Mar. And as I felt the last time I was here, I’m both ready to go and absolutely certain that I will return.
It was a powerful week with a group of courageous, funny, insightful, supportive, creative, vulnerable, dynamic, brilliant women. It was an honor to share space with them in this magical place as we dug into where patriarchy and its hierarchical rule and order have shaped or constrained us as women. Where it has turned us against each other and against our true nature. Where we have chosen productivity over creativity; where we have chosen fitting in over self expression. During this week away from our daily lives and schedules we created a safe container to speak and reflect truths to each other as we held the space for stories of triumph and tragedy. We looked at our relationships with parents both living and passed on. We considered how those primary relationships shaped our beliefs, our thoughts about ourselves and the world, our understanding of what it means to be a woman. Perhaps most importantly, we explored what we carry from the past that no longer serves us as well as what those familial relationships gave to us- blessings and lessons both. It was quite a week, which ended in a fantastic afternoon-long dance party-cum-Margaritaville extravaganza. I’m tired. Grateful. Humbled. Full. And so, so, so connected.
Prana del Mar is a purpose-built yoga retreat center. Everything here was thoughtfully placed, mindfully put together for yogis and seekers to do this work. Every person on staff is kind, thoughtful and has an air of attention as they go about their tasks. Through our work we were so well taken care of and supported by presence both seen and unseen. There are many things I love about it here: the simple artwork; the succulent plant and rock gardens around the property; the dome of sky at night with no city light to dim the magnificence of the stars; the way that there are no straight lines for trails from one building to another — everything is circular, flowing, circuitous. The message: don’t be in a hurry. There are more ways to get from A to B than a straight line. Soften your hard edges. Explore along your way.
But one of the simplest, most unusual elements of this place is that there are no mirrors other than a small mirror in the bathroom in your apartment. There are no mirrors in the entry halls or studios. There are no mirrors in any public bathroom anywhere on property. And I love what happens when people start to recognize the absence of the usually ubiquitous mirror.
In place of mirrors are small shelves, displaying a plain frame with the image of a single word. They rotate every day. So as you wash your hands, you look up to see: Pure, Resplendent, Brilliant, Sublime, Perfect, Glorious, Brilliant instead of an image of what you are (or what you are not) based on your external reflection. Multiple times in a day, you are reminded of the truth of what you are on the inside, all the time. I love this.
As someone who struggles with an inner critic on par with the Michelin Guide restaurant review people, the liberation from constant analysis of self image against image of Self is incredible, and it reminds me of an exercise I shared with the tribe this week on retreat. (Yes, ladies, we will still call it a retreat for lack of a better word.)
As yogis, we know about the power of vibration So my invitation for you is this: Pay attention to your language today. Take note of the thoughts/words that you use most often — especially when describing yourself or your life. Identify the words that are less than productive/helpful or words which do not describe your ideal life or truest self. What if you gave those words a break for a day or for a week, or saved them for only the most appropriate moments?
Next step: create a list of words that perhaps you don’t use very often, words that you would like to be more of, see or do more of. Write the list and put it somewhere that you will see it daily. Start incorporating those words into your regular vocabulary and watch what happens. As “resplendent” was the group favorite, you may hear it around a bit more than usual. Some of the words on my list: nurture, play, nature, gentle and rest. I want more of that in my life. I want to think it more, be it more, weave it into my day to day living. And if my thoughts create my words, my words create my deeds, my deeds create my destiny, well, it seems a good and essential place to start.
What are your words?
With love from Baja,