Saturday, May 9, 2015

Silence Is Golden

Surfside Beach, TX (Silent Yoga Retreat)
The picture on the left is what I woke up to on Saturday morning at Surfside Beach on the first full day of my silent yoga retreat. I spent the first part of the morning meditating, mainly because I hadn't really slept the night before (thank you again chronic pleurisy), so I was in quite a relaxed and vulnerable state when I walked out on the deck and saw this. I was immediately overwhelmed with emotion and I actually began to cry. It was so bizarre but I couldn't help myself. I was in awe of all the beauty that was before me, and so...I snuck my phone (we had to keep them in a box for the weekend) and took a few pictures to capture the moment. It is something I will always remember and cherish, feeling so overwhelmed with emotion by mother nature. It really set the tone for the rest of the weekend, and I can honestly say I came out the other end of this retreat a renewed and transformed individual. (Not. Exaggerating.)

I really enjoyed the first yoga retreat I went on in November, which focused on gratitude and I really wanted to challenge myself so I decided (rather on a whim) to do this for myself and for all the lingering questions I still had hanging around. I was hoping to gain some peace and perspective on it all, and I did.

For starters, we stayed in this amazingly lovely beach house with all the amenities and yummy vegan and gluten free food you could ever want cooked by some really talented chefs.

I spent a lot of time on the deck and on those comfy couches reading and writing my thoughts. I wanted to spend more time on the beach and in the water, but alas, my Lupus and my meds kept me from doing so. (I didn't want to risk a flare up due to over sun exposure- so I covered up from head to toe and spent only about 30 min by the water, but it was really nice).

So, what was the premise of the silent yoga retreat?

1. Spend time in silence to quiet and calm the mind.
2. Practice yoga and meditation to quiet and calm the mind, body and spirit.
3. Learn about using conscious language- "Language builds the house we live in"
4. Read Deepak Chopra's The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success (highly recommended)

What did I get out of it?

1. The ending to memoir # 2 was revealed to me! It was hard to shut my mind off, as it got really really loud at first(in my head). But eventually I was able to focus on what my mind was telling me and I knew how it had to end. I let my mind wander at first, and I doubted myself, but eventually the "why" of why it had to end the way it's going to made sense.

2. I was able to spend some time creating a list of things I still want to do that don't involve having children. I felt I needed to do this in order to prove to myself that I have a lot of things to look forward to. A lot of life yet to live, and I shouldn't let fertility or infertility define me or my quality of life.

3. A shift in perspective. For the longest time, I have been using language to creat a very negative and destructive "house." I am making a conscious effort to change that. (You may have noticed that my FB presence is quite minimal these days). So a part of it involves changing my daily affirmations and goals. Instead of saying things like:
"I hope I get better"
"I hope this medicine works"
"I hope I can get pregnant"

I have changed my language to:
"I trust I will get better"
"I trust this medicine will work"
"I trust I will get pregnant"

This subtle shift in language and in my daily affirmations has already made me feel so empowered. I've moved from wishful thinking with a cloud of doubt to positive expectation with a side of confidence.

4. The only way to move forward is to make amends with your past. I had a very tender moment on the last day with one of the yoga teachers. We were discussing whether or not I should do yoga teacher training, and she was encouraging me to go for it. At the end of our conversation she asked me to repeat the phrase: My only security is shining. And as soon as I opened my mouth to say them, I burst into tears. I don't know what it was about those words that made me so emotional, but it was probably one of the hardest things I've ever had to say out loud.

I realized that the only way I was going to "shine" is if I let go of all my old baggage. If I came to terms with my past, spoke the truth about the mistakes I had made, and began the process of forgiving myself in order to heal.

It was a difficult process, and I  still have a ways to go, but I am in a much better place now that I have begun the journey.

5. I want to plan and coordinate a Writer's Retreat for Texas writers next summer that will involve
writing, meditation, workshops, fun, food and laughter. Lupe said he is ready to do it with me and as soon as the fall rolls around, I want to start planning it. This silent retreat was so beneficial to me that I just want to share the love and I think writers could really benefit from this. I am super excited about the possibilities! Stay tuned writer friends, Mendez Writing Workshop Weekend coming your way in 2016!!

This yoga retreat was everything I needed and more. It forced me to face things I've been too afraid to and it gave me the space and time and quietness I needed to finally listen to the things I had been trying to silence.

I know there's still a lot more work that I have to do on myself so that my light continues to shine brighter and brighter, but I'm learning to take it one step at a time.

Managing and living with chronic illness is going to be a lifelong battle. But that doesn't mean I can't win. And for me, winning doesn't neccessarily mean a cure, or remission or having more good days than bad (which I also learned we shouldn't label things good or bad, since again this is language, rather we should just observe what happens with non-judgement), but rather winning for me, is about learning to shine despite the pain and flare ups.

Shining, even if dully, when everything hurts.
Shining when I'd rather stay in bed.
Shining for others when it's hard to do so for myself
Shining because I want to.
Shining because I can.

That, for me, is a win.

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