I just got back from a yoga retreat this weekend, and I feel like I’m just beginning to appreciate everything I took home with me. On our last morning, our instructor suggested that one of the take homes they wanted to leave us with was “opening what was closed.” Which I think perfectly summarizes for me the weekend’s most important lesson.
In the car, on our way home, my friend and I discussed the weekend’s highlights, of which there were many. I asked myself what was the most significant thing I would be taking home from this weekend; was it finding a comfortable seat for meditation? The stretches of lakeside quiet time? Time spent catching up with a good friend? A refined downward dog and some solid arm balances and inversions? The inspiring conversations with a diverse group of successful women (and a even couple men)? A new appreciation for vegan food and paleo-baking? Any and all of those experiences were well worth the time, and effort, but it is the subtle change in my approach to daily life that I hope sticks with me long after the pressures and demands of home close back in.
One night in yoga nidra, I think that I was finally able to let go of some of the baggage the recent years have piled on. Which begs the question, what will I let take its place? All weekend, I worked on being present, strong and patient; three qualities I’d like to carry around with me instead.
I tend to express love by doing: doing laundry, scheduling playdates, swimming lessons and dinner parties, knitting socks, cleaning the house, organizing family photos, buying tricycles, shoes and groceries. Certainly, all of those things are important, but they can distract from the most important way to express love: by being with the people you love. If you let them, they can crowd out the spontaneous kitchen dance parties, long phone conversations with distant friends and family, quiet chats on the front porch, and noisy afternoons at the park. That is the biggest take away from my weekend of yoga by the lake: to be present with those I love. At first, I felt a little guilty about taking this time from myself, and leaving my husband and son to cope together at home, but now I think that I may be able to give them more, because I went. And now comes the hard part, keeping those lakeside lessons with me all year.