I just spent a wonderful weekend at Kripalu in Lenox, Mass with my soul sister participating in a yoga/meditation weekend planned months ago to celebrate our 50th birthdays as Geminis.
It was facilitated by Paulist Father Tom Ryan of "yogi priest" fame renowned for his work on ecumenical dialogue and his many books.
He gave a warm and spiritual workshop called "Prayer of Heart and Body" that incorporated yoga, meditation and chanting and it was really wonderful to learn how to pray with the whole body to deepen our connection and LOVE to the Divine.
What better than to veg at Kripalu for the weekend!
Combined with my best friend from college, the idyllic snowy setting in the Berkshires of Massachusetts, the awesome food, daily roiboos tea, sauna and whirlpool to soothe the bones, a stellar massage, and a walk in the labyrinth (see photo above) this retreat weekend was an A+ for me all around and much needed TLC.
Chaos disrupts my peace with a bad sandwich!
What sandwiched the weekend like a pair of mold filled bread ends in the drawer was, however, a true test of my burgeoning zen nature and all things learned over this spirit filled weekend.
It started off with a flight gone wrong to White Plains, NY where we promptly had to turn around due to zero visibility (fog) and fly back to DC... ? Cray cray....don't these pilots get updates? Cell phone anyone? Two hours lost. It's 11:30 pm now.
Upon return, all flights were booked to my desired airport, of course, as other planes hadn't actually tried to fly and land in the fog only to be rejected landing. My options were thus slim to none...or Laguardia ... which is a nightmare even in good traffic.
After hemming and hawing and texting with my friend, I finally lucked out and got on a flight in the morning thanks to a super nice booking agent lady around whose booking desk I was lurking as she changed other people's tickets (I was undecided, but didn't want to lose my "place" in line, so lurked! Ha!) She eventually took pity on me and my predicament to NOT to miss this important workshop.
Hooked up...or so I thought!
After a bit of time, my new friend hooked me up with a coveted ticket to my same destination that very next morning bright and early when one popped up on her screen, shunning the irate traveler man who could have used it, but was ranting incessantly and annoying everyone, so he lost out.
She slipped it to me quietly as she beckoned me away from the booking desk... and him. Smooth move. I told her I loved her and bounded up the escalator before anyone could take it away from me! It was 1 am by now, but whoopeee, I had a ticket!
Going to the chapel (and I'm gonna get married...done that!)
That night I had the pleasure of sleeping in the chapel of the airport near the police station, thank God, (I got only a few winks and a crick in my back) only to wake up to, yep, another cancelled flight. The fog hadn't lifted. Was I not meant to get to this workshop?
Dunkin Donuts in hand, I queued up again. Third time was a charm with a flight booked into CT, but close to Kripalu, so it worked out for my friend to pick me up there.
Okay....I'm getting closer, I thought. And indeed, the flight was uneventful and we had a great trip up to Kripalu laughing and trading stories as girls do. The universe, indeed, wanted me there!
Finding the love...or not...
The weekend went by quickly and was peaceful and soulful for me.
There were, however, lots of Harville Hendrix couples trying to "Find the Love" they wanted....like 200+ couples, so the mood wasn't all that zen at Kripalu over this particular weekend and the conversations overheard at the dinner tables were fraught with "going deeper" type conversations. Bless them...I'm in a couple, so I get it.
Slipped into Rick Hanson's (author of the Buddha Brain) "Hardwiring Happiness" workshop for an hour and loved what he had to say. I've read the book and loved it.
In all, a REALLY pleasant couple of days. So grateful.
Then the chaos started again... the moldy bread just never goes away.
Jinxed. DC was rained out and frozen and my flight back home was cancelled. Freak storm in Dallas was creating havoc. Back to my friend's house I went for the night thanks to her son who came back to fetch me. Managed to re-booked the ticket for later the next day, but it, too, got delayed 3x. Jinxed again!
My plane was actually still in Dayton, OH and needed to go to DC before even heading up to me in NY, so I made the executive decision to rent a car and just drive home. Snow was threatening to pile DC into a mush wonderland.
GPS and EZpass in hand, off I went in my new Ford Focus. Focus, Michelle! :)
How ironic that I was enrolled in a yoga/meditation workshop and experiencing all this chaos...or maybe not...maybe it was a test?
How awesome was it that I was able to roll with it! Never once was I ruffled...okay, well, maybe once....but honestly, I mostly just felt in the flow of life.
I thank my daily meditation practice, my Biodanza get my flow on practice as well as the pearls of wisdom gained at the retreat for this.
My new found ability to go into stillness and just breathe is serving me oh so well. It allows to me access this place of "whatever" that calms and centers me within moments ... most of the time, at least. I do have my moments, admittedly, but I am human.
WHERE'S THIS BRIGHT SIDE?
So, my new fave thing to ask myself and my coaching clients is "How is this situation just perfect for you right now"? which is a play on the old expression that your mother used to ladle out to you "Look on the bright side, honey..."
So let me share MY BRIGHT SIDE with you...
1. I got to see my friend's boys who I love so much and got to spend quality time with them.
2. I got to see the new Farrow and Ball paint job that my friend was raving about at her house. Very chic plus a good night's sleep.
3. I was able to help out my friend with an important errand that she couldn't do the next day...
4. ...after which I got a pretty manicure and a Starbucks to make myself feel good and kill some time.
4. I sang like a rock star, which I love doing, on my four hour drive south and listened to some fab x-mas music noting tunes I need to make a playlist of for easy listening.
5. I spoke to a few people on speaker which was really enjoyable. Hands free is the law! :)
6. I got another Starbucks at the rest stop for a caffeine jolt. (I need stock in that company.)
7. Airline refunded me 1/2 the price of my ticket due to whole boondoggle of an experience. Did this while eating a Whopper which I later regretted.
8. Supershuttle also refunded me my return portion as I no longer needed it. Nice!
9. I got home to my kids intact and earlier than the darn flight that eventually did take off later on in the evening. (and PS, we do have the day off again today here in the DC area due to 5 inches of snow!)
10. I mini meditated MANY TIMES this weekend....an Rx that I have at my fingertips when chaos knocks at my door.
TEACHABLE MOMENT OF MY STORY?
The next time someone tells you to "look on the bright side" and you want to string them up by their toes, make a list of all the positives that have come out of the unfortunate situation. I am sure you will find some.
Keep doing this in your life and soon you will become the observer of an ever more zen and happier life opening to FLOW and CHAOS with no major breakdowns...give or take a hissy fit or two!
Like the photo says, MAY PEACE PREVAIL ON EARTH...
and likewise in your heart.
NELSON MANDELA 1918 - ∞
A great human being has transitioned today, sent from above on a special mission to our world.
He was a man who believed in miracles and sought to make it happen.
His light shone brightly for 95 years as a beacon for love and justice. Many followed his path joining his journey....a blazing road of turbulence and strength toward the future in the hopes that all could embrace "ubuntu" or human kindness.
May South Africa and the world at large be able to embrace his innate goodness and integrity, his deep love for humanity, and his clarity of vision for his country.
Madiba was a warrior for reconciliation and for peace with the ultimate goal being LOVE. He knew that small acts of loving kindness among individuals and even bigger acts of loving kindness on the state level could add up to BIG, BIG LOVE for South Africa and that this could ripple out to the rest of us. He was right. And we are grateful.
Thanks to Mandela and his comrades a miracle, indeed, did happen in South Africa in 1994 with the abolishment of apartheid making way for the next journey into reconciliation and peace.
Shine on us from above, Madiba, and infuse us with your courage as we are left to continue the healing you have begun. We need your courage in every county on this planet.
"I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear." Nelson Mandela
"small talk about rEVOLutionary