Earlier in the week, I got an email reminder about the retreat I had signed up for a month or two ago. As I read it, a part of me hesitated.
The self-limitation I had been living with for over a year was staring me in the face.
It would be the first time I would leave home for an overnight stay on my own, IF I went. This IF was a self-limitation I had been living with since Nelson's sudden death... always staying (if not simply sleeping) in our physical home, our sanctuary.
The seed of doubt began: Maybe you should consider canceling and give up the spot to someone "more ready" to go...
I went back to the Peace Village website to re-read the description to see how I felt...
As I sat for a minute acknowledging the feelings that were coming up inside of me, there was an intuitive and comforting impression of "Yes, go. This is another step aligned with your values, your aim and intentions..." inspiring me to stay open to possibility of continuing to expand my comfort zone.
The "something" was pranayama. It was called out "on the menu in the 'sampler' of practices" that were going to be covered during the weekend along with yoga, meditation, journaling and a number of contemplative practices.
Over the past year, I began to more intentionally integrate quite a few practices into my daily life. The empowerment to incrementally and intentionally ADJUST has been instrumental throughout my healing process; and now, as support for me to continue to strategically grow into a better version of myself each day.
I stumbled across Max Strom's TEDtalk sometime ago, where he touches on grief with regard to his focus on breath work. His talk resonated with me on a number of levels!
During the talk, he demonstrates some breath work which I tried (and retried) and personally found effective for easing some of my own discomfort.
I retried these exercises periodically (when I remembered to pull it up); but otherwise simply became aware of my breath mostly as part of guided meditations.
Strom noted that he felt that meditation, while very useful, is actually very advanced... we were skipping over "the breath"
And that made so much more sense to me when I saw that so many people I know seem discouraged or intimidated by the idea of even trying meditation. Breathing is so much more accessible. I had to learn more!
Pranayama seemed like another avenue I wanted to look into...one that might be more accessible; more universal--across belief systems. None of us can deny breath connects life in our physical bodies, right?!
My interest continued to peak through synchronicity in the months that followed seeing Strom's TEDtalk. I found myself occasionally compelled to "do a google search" and eventually also began clicking through old and dissatisfying videos. There just didn't seem to be much "out there"... The urge to understand "how does this work?" (because it just does, somehow!) and "what else can I try?" had been growing again in recent months.
I wanted to be able to observe, try, receive feedback and ask questions of an expert in person. I asked yoga instructors, meditation practitioners, and mindfulness experts questions about breath work; but the time together was either limited or constrained to phone or text.
...and here it was, highlighted in the retreat description: an opportunity to learn in person. A pranayama expert was on the panel and would lead sessions throughout the weekend!
Seeing how this opportunity aligned with my values, intentions, and goals is what inspired me to act.
With my intention at the fore (to grow, connect and share the best of myself continually throughout the days of my life in order to help others), I felt a comfort in seeing how this retreat aligned.
So... I took a deep breath, and mindfully gathered up enough clothing, driving snacks and courage for 2 nights away from our home: mentally and physically preparing myself and the house.