:: WHY WE BE ::

Boo to false, self-imposed limits, we say. These champion oracles want to live enthusiastically. Follow our trip through projects that challenge, frustrate, and/or scare us. In the end (which is really the middle) we want to live like big bright free and authentically awesome people.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Designing a retreat for a complete chicken shit (Holly)

After the triple axis of evil that was HY2010, I wanted to go to Guatemala again like I did in January 2009 for a yoga and meditation retreat.  It was wonderful.  Scrumptious, fresh, whole vegetarian food at every meal.  Natural beauty (it was at Lake Atitlan-a rather large lake surrounded by 3 volcanoes).  Meditation and self inquiry. Skilled instruction on therapeutic yoga. Every day. For seven days. One of the only vacations I’ve ever been on where I came home more rested than when I went.  So, why wouldn’t I want to do it again? Did I mention that the cost is actually very very reasonable? It is. Unfortunately, the airfare right now-not so much.  So, I’m using my air miles to go to Durango, Colorado instead. By myself.  My original thought was that I would just recreate Guatemala in the beautiful Four Corners region.  Then panic set in.  WTF was I thinking????? There will be no group, no instructors, and all sorts of temptations to indulge in distractions. Not to mention, I could get really really lonely. It’s SOOOO NOT THE SAME!!
Alright, Holly. Get a grip.  Let me tell you about DISTRACTIONS. One of the first exercises we did when we were in Guatemala during a self-inquiry session was to talk about our “distractions”. What did our teachers mean by this? They wanted us to think about things that we did to avoid. Avoid feeling. Avoid doing. Avoid whatever. Avoid growing.  These could be things like excessive use of internet, facebook?!, television, drinking, drugs, sex. Even seemingly healthy behaviors can be distractions…over exercising and reading! Hmmmmm….I had not ever thought about these things in quite this way.  We got into pairs and were to share with each other what our major (and minor) distractions were.  The lady I was with avoided being close to her husband by moving out. Ha! She stayed married, just got her own apartment.
So, guess what….this spiritual growth and creativity blossoming thing is going pretty well, for the most part. But like what seems to be the theme for us COFFEE chicks the last couple weeks, I’m in a bit of a slump. My slumps are different than before. Until last March, I was not familiar with anxiety. I didn’t get it. Depression and disassociation I could understand. Not anxiety. Anxiety seems to make pain and loneliness worse.  Maybe more intense. Well, I don’t know. Maybe it’s just a different side of the same coin.  Pema Chodoron says,
“…disappointment, embarrassment, and all these places where we just cannot feel good are a sort of death.  We’ve just lost our ground completely; we are unable to hold it together and feel that we’re on top of things. Rather than realizing it takes death for there to be birth, we just fight against death.
Reaching our limit is not some kind of punishment. It’s actually a sign of health that, when we meet the place where we are about to die, we feel fear and trembling. A further sign of health is that we don’t become undone by fear and trembling, but we take it as a message that it’s time to stop struggling and look directly at what’s threatening us. Things like disappointment and anxiety are messengers telling us that we’re about to go into unknown territory.”

So, it seems it’s pretty much human nature to run away from fear and discomfort.  And, that’s the advice we usually get. “Sweeten it up, smooth it over, take a pill, or distract ourselves, but by all means make it go away” (Chodron).  I’m trying very hard to learn from my wonky feelings….try not to “distract” myself from them….go toward them and learn what they’re REALLY trying to tell me. Just like everyone else, I’ve only got one life, so why waste a bunch of time fooling around with mind numbing activities that only lead to living in a haze. Numbed out haze. Nah….that’s why I’m doing artist’s way, right? To wake up! To live a more awake, spiritual, and meaningful life. Laugh more, love more, be authentic.  At least I should try to do this on my “retreat”, right???? Ok, please humor me with reading one more apropos Pema Chodron quote…

“To stay with that shakiness-to stay with a broken heart, with a rumbling stomach, with the feeling of hopelessness and wanting to get revenge-that is the path of true awakening. Sticking with that uncertainty, getting the knack of relaxing in the midst of chaos, learning not to panic-this is the spiritual path.”

So…that’s the plan. That’s the goal.  Now, my “retreat” in Durango. I think I’m going to give my friend my crackberry at the airport. I will not bring my computer, and I’m really going to have to think about even my iPod.  No TV and no borrowing someone else’s computer. No novels. I will bring the Artist’s Way and a couple of my writing books.  I will go on daily hikes and do yoga at the studio in town every day.  Oh, and maybe a massage or two.  I will schedule it in advance so that I’m not worrying about what to do everyday. I already looked up the yoga schedule.  The little studio apartment I’m renting is walking distance to hiking trails and downtown. It's decorating style was described as Cowboy Zen. Smile. And, it has a Japanese bath tub. Cool!

I am also reevaluating my Artist’s Way schedule as I’m falling way behind.  I’m still doing my morning pages about 75% of the time, and I’ve read a chapter.  I remember it being good, but I didn’t write about it so I can’t even tell you what it was about.  I have not done any of the optional exercises and NO ARTIST’S DATES. Artist’s dates are the one other thing that is supposed to be non-negotiable in the course. So here’s the plan:
I think I will start doing one chapter every two weeks. With our new posting schedule, I think that’s reasonable and works out fab!

1) Do 75% of morning pages;
2) One Artist Date
3) Read the Chapter, do all exercises IN the chapter
4) Do at least 50% of the tasks at the END of the chapter. 

Please give me advice on how to make this mini retreat the best it can be. I’m going from April 22-26. It’s Easter weekend. Didn’t realize that until way after I booked it.

So, my dear COFFEE friends, thanks for sticking with me through the creative juicy times as well as the anxiety ridden dessert of doom and gloom. It’s in Iowa and I’m going to get this puppy posted and catch up on some COFFEE reading instead of doing my morning pages. I’ve written enough in the last 24 hours right?



Corey ♪ Linstrom said...

You are going to have a super time! Plus you're going to get some important thing finished. How about setting some rewards for when you've finished some of these short term goals? I know you already booked some massages, but putting clear rewards in your mind's eye might help too.


Katie said...

Holly, that picture of the dog on the dock just melts my tension right away. I can literally feel all my tightly-wound, zippy neurons slowing down and chilling out as I gaze on this lovely photo. Thanks for sharing it. Nothing so relaxing as a sleeping dog. Or a lake view with mountains. Take your pick!

This retreat sounds like you want it to be a working retreat! I am really impressed by your determination to scrub your chakra clean of all the dingy gunk that accumulates as a sentient human. I think even though you are panicky at the thought of less structure than you had in Guatemala, the path you have set for yourself will help you focus yourself and your energy. Especially the dumping of all electronic distractions - that is a very brave thing to do in this day and age, I don't know that many people would be able to do that! So good for you!!

I think you are well on your way to making this mini-retreat a meaningful experience already - especially with scheduled massages. Those would be the most meaningful to me, but then I hit up strangers to rub my shoulders so I'm probably not your best judge. I'm a good judge of what will weird people out though....

I know we all feel like there is room for improvement and that our experiences always need to make us LEARN something. Be open to LEARNING. Take this and GROW. But, sometimes the experiences re-aquaint us with the fact that we are pretty cool chicks, and maybe that's the point. Distractions can make us forget our authentic selves. So sometimes we just need some quiet reminders and re-discover it. Regardless of what you discover, uncover, re-aquaint with, find or in general improve, I think you are one cool lady with scrubby clean chakra. I hope you have a wonderful time!

I'd have a hard time without the novels though - whew! You're hardcore!! In the best way though. :)

amy said...

It is so funny (crazy funny, not ha ha funny) that you wrote about taking a retreat, Holly. The other day I got a groupon.com offer for some horse riding lessons at a place called Fruition Farm, did some googling, and learned they offer all kinds of retreats...and seriously mulled over calling them up and asking about these. I've always wanted to go on a retreat. I don't know why--but you make them sound frickin' fabulous. "Go on a retreat" definitely gets put on my bucket list now.

And I totally think COFFEE writing counts for morning pages. Totally. And (part 2), Pema Chodron makes me smile. I like how her brain works (along with many of her Buddhist master teacher friends).

I learn so much from your posts--I'm kind of selfish when I read them, because I'm all: ooh! I need to remember that! and aha! I can totally use THAT tidbit of information!

But I am always on the lookout for owls and owl information for you. If/when I find good stuff I know will be useful, I'm immediately contacting you and gifting it your way.

You are so going to have a great time on your retreat--massages! hikes! yoga! writing and the Artist's Way! So envious of you...I demand a full retelling of your relaxing and centering retreat adventures immediately upon your return (this is where Selfish Amy rears her ugly head again).

patresa said...

holly, i LOVE that you're taking your retreat on your own, and according to your own time, whims, and pace. YES! and i LOVE that it unsettles you, because isn't that just the awesome point of it? hot damn. nice. get on with your bad self!

love the pema quotes. i'd never heard of her. now i want to read more. what i think is so cool about stuff like that, it how closely it parallels so many other things -- like how i was telling you about my massage therapist who finally told me to stop resisting the pain in my knee, and just hold it right where it hurts. the body, nature, brains, emotions… i love that they all seem to be in agreement that we're to pay attention to what hurts instead of DISTRACT. onward, Awesome Blossom!

Tanner May (Tanya) said...

So I posted a comment last night, AND THEN MY INTERNET FAILED, losing the whole comment. I thought maybe it was the universe telling me something, and I thought.... how poetic as Holly is talking about turning it all off. ;) I also thought, and think ongoing, that you are way ahead on the evolution chart.

I said some super different cool things last night that I can't recall today, but I will say, I think this is really fantastic. I think you are one amazing lady to pursue your journeys, and I think you're going to totally kick Miss Distracted's ass.

Rock on Holly.