Yoga Retreat Recap: Magical, Inspiring

This time last week, I was airborne and flying over the Florida Keys. I was flying business class (what a treat!) and working on a crossword puzzle. Today, I’m watching sleet and ice fall from the sky and wishing I were back in Guatemala. One can daydream…

So, how was the trip? Nothing short of life-changing. Yoga twice a day, delicious vegetarian meals, an endless supply of ginger and lemongrass tea, communal meals, exploring lakeside villages, stand-up paddling boarding, mediation, conversation, meeting new friends…I could go on, and on, and on.

Here are few pictures from the trip:

The view...every morning. This is Lake Atitlan, a collapsed volcanic crater that filled with water.

The view…every morning. This is Lake Atitlan, a collapsed volcanic crater.

This is where our morning practices were held. On the top floor is where we lived for the week.

This is where our morning practices were held. On the top floor is where we lived for the week.

Here's the "main drag" of Mystical Yoga Farm. On the left is Rancho, where we ate our meals together.

Here’s the “main drag” of Mystical Yoga Farm. On the left is Rancho, where we ate our meals together.

That's me exploring San Marcos, a fun hippie village settled by expats.

That’s me exploring San Marcos, a fun hippie village settled by expats.

Coming back to the States has been a hard adjustment for me. During the retreat, I felt surrounded by endless amounts of positive energy and a sense of community. I know that comes off sounding “crunchy,” but it’s true. From my observations, Guatemalans seem to have a strong sense of family and love for others. They work hard and they work together. It’s not a cut-throat environment where people only care about themselves and sabotage others for promotions or more money (examples: Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., and Wall Street in NYC). It’s not that I’ve been unaware of this type of behavior, but to be removed from it for a week and then come back…

The first few days were a struggle, but then I consciously decided to stop manifesting negativity. I started exercising my mind and began to manifest positivity. I thought it would help bring the light back into my life. You can’t move forward if you keep living in the past, right?

Since changing my behavior, happiness is filling my heart and pushing out the darkness. When you are kind to others, when you smile more, when you say “hello” to a stranger, you start a chain of positive reactions. Think of what happens when you do the opposite. It causes a chain of negative reactions. For example, someone cuts you off for a parking spot and the first thing you do is start yelling at them, as if they can hear you and will politely backup and allow you to have the spot. That’s not the typical outcome, right? What would happen if you let it go? What type of person would you be if you let it go?

This small shift is a direct outcome of the retreat. I cannot thank enough my yoga instructor, Ariele Foster, and my yogi friends (especially you, Megan) for not only creating a safe place for physical yoga practice, but also for the practice of being mindful. I have so much gratitude for all of you.

Jag Quote

Many special things happened to me on the farm, and I thought I’d share one with you regarding David.

Below is Grandfather Rock. According to many on the farm, it is believed to be a type of portal to the past, and maybe even the future. Unfortunately, this picture does Grandfather Rock little justice; it doesn’t portray its strength or magical qualities fairly.

The mystical Grandfather Rock, a portal to the past and future.

The mystical Grandfather Rock

On Wednesday evening, February 18, David came to me in a dream. I’d never dreamt of him before. In the dream, David died in an accident and came to me with a bruised and scraped up head. He said, “I’m okay. I need you to be strong for Lori, Courtney, and Aunt Mary. Comfort them.” I woke up, slightly disturbed. I wrote it in my travel journal and then read my entry from the day before, February 17. I attended a cacao ceremony, and knew I wrote about it in my yoga journal, so I flipped through that.

“Today is the 12 year death of Mommom. I saw a cardinal on the farm — in Guatemala! During the cacao ceremony, I felt a light spirit. Maybe it was Mommom.”

When I put the two together, the only reasonable explanation was that Grandfather Rock played a role in these two experiences. Both were unusual events, but they made sense. The timing made sense. It was as if Grandfather Rock opened up a portal to the past for me, perhaps to reassure me that the things I experienced during the cacao ceremony were real and valid.

After reading this, some of you may think I’m a little unstable, nuts, or foolish. I had the same reaction when I was trying to explain all of this to myself, and I’ve found that some things are better left unexplained.

This retreat was much more than a lesson in deepening my physical practice; it also deepened my spiritual practice. Now that I’m adjusting to “normal life,” it is time for me to apply some of the lessons I’ve learned to my race training. I’ll start with positive mantras: I can do this. I am strong. I got this.

This retreat was so refreshing, and the boost I needed to begin the 2015 training season and Do It For David campaign. I can’t wait!!

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