Week one draws to a close with tomorrow morning’s self-practice, and life’s feeling pretty damn good!  I’ve had a very moon-sequence-centric start, and have wrestled with a few self-challenging questions as to why I’m lacking that ashtanga fire that seems to be thriving so brightly and energetically around me.  But with some reflection, a confident outburst in yesterday’s candlelit satsang, I’m coming to terms with the fact that this is just where I’m at right now.  I was practicing today, looking out into the fields through my soft gaze, those white duck heads popping up and quacking between the tall blades of grass, and just enjoying being in my body.  I was relishing the calm, the steady, the penetrating sequence that wrings incessantly deep into the hips and spine.  Breathing steady and rhythmic, 4 counts in, pause, 4 counts out, pause.  4 counts in, pause, 4 counts out, pause….every movement led, propelled by the breath.  Feeling completely alone, yet energetically connected to the rows of flowing bodies either side….all silently moving, bar the soft, warming hiss of ujjayi breath.  When I finished, I rolled up my mat, bypassed the breakfast gathering and took a stroll out into the back pathways of Penestanan, listening to my music, weaving my feet through the greenery, and jumping across breaks in the cement taking heed of the shed snake skins, and darting dragon-flies, noticing the subtle vibrations in the base of my spine, and finger-tips…looked out into the fields around me, bracketed by sweeping palm trees, and caught my breath and the rush of warmth inside….This is me connecting once again….beginning to feel my environment and surroundings, and making contact with the sensations as they arise and that expanding joy of embracing everything that’s around me and feeling so profoundly grateful….

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Tomorrow, I move away from the shala and settle into a cottage with a new yoga friend.  I’ll be able to unpack my things, go to the supermarket and stock up the kitchen – make a home, albeit temporary, in this beautiful place.  It often takes me some time to adapt and adjust to these new settings and however idyllic and incredible it all sounds and looks…the immersion into such an intense schedule of yoga can be quite terrifying and overwhelming.  We are usually strangers, bearing our most vulnerable selves to each other right from the get go.  This time I was able to kind of take a step back and observe the process….the intimidation and self-consciousness slowly transmute into acceptance and…I don’t know…a sense of lightness and fun…comradery with those you connect with, interest and inquiry into those you haven’t been able to resonate with just yet…

You have no real expectations of what’s to come but are conscious and aware of patterns that start to come to light.  I know that there will be moments of great joy, followed by moments of great difficulty.  Moments of perceived achievement and satisfaction, polarised by feelings of frustration and failure.  I know I will feel great waves of love, crashing against self-loathing and loneliness.  It is humanity.

In satsang yesterday – an opportunity for us all to sit in a circle and share our experiences, thoughts, questions, fears – I felt that it was in that moment that the retreat really began for me.  Friendships are beginning to embed and real voices – the voices that resound beyond the initial stage of polite introductions -are piping up, and Matthew talked to us about non-attachment vs detachment.

Detachment is to physically and emotionally remove yourself from a situation…non-attachment is to allow and to meet the situation head on…to be IN feeling, without reacting.

We spend so long closing ourselves off and protecting ourselves from things that make us uncomfortable – however they may manifest…and here….we are undoing all of that.  We are learning to be in feeling….to allow, and to meet our humanity.

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