A memoir of spaces past, merged spirits and everlasting love.
I experienced well over a dozen teachings throughout the preparation of this retreat. I was ultimately met with the great opportunity to transcend walls within my mind and surrender completely to what was, radical acceptance.
Intimacy. Close familiarity or friendship. A private cozy atmosphere. And we were.
Easily the most natural, in the flow, radical opening of self with ourselves and with each other I’ve yet to witness. We devoted ourselves to lengthy self compassion meditations each morning, steady clear asana practices each afternoon, city explorations and transcendent walks through the outstretched field afoot the Atlas Mountains.
The depth of closeness allowed us to return to childhood. Complete care and playful spirits allowed us all to completely unravel. And what a blessing it was. This one left me changed.
San Pancho, Mexico
I wasn’t the only one having a magical feeling about this place long before we arrived, the whole group was coming together and anticipating the energy weeks before we left. I had mixed feelings about leading my second retreat through New Years Eve but this one proved to be all the medicines in all the ways we all needed it. We found a home in the jungles of Nayarit and with each other. We all went up against our inner hearts and minds, seeing, cleansing, clearing and most importantly accepting.
“High vision, high purpose. Am I choosing the path that serves my highest dharma or am I choosing the path that satisfies only the moment?” Kevins voice rang through everyones soul and we sang together, offering our whole hearts and shattering our walls. I have never felt so much support through both my partner Kevin Tobar and the rest of our group. The journey was ours as one. The love was and is so very real.
We vibrated and meditated through the sounds, sea, cacao and temazcal ceremonies. In fact the whole week was a ceremony, not a moment of our days were without awareness, wonder and devotion. There was a rawness, a realness that allowed us to see the potential in human connection and how good it is to let that love flow. I know I speak for us all when I say this week was a treasure, a moment in time that we can call upon in our hearts anytime to allow us to return to this state of being, openness and unconditional love.
Pumpkin Hollow, Hollows Eve
In a land of spirit we find ourself within. Turned away from external expression to navigate the endless roads inside ourselves. Connecting with what has been decaying in order to truly shed the layer as well as plant the seed of intention for our new journeys ahead. As we approach the season of darkness we welcome the wisdom that arises within us when we are open to meeting the shadow and accepting death as a means of transformation and inevitable rebirth.
This weekend was one of strength through vulnerability. Softening all of our walls to transcend them. We were guided through the self through Tarot, meditation, qi practices and asana. We met each other on the trails in the woods, ice dips in the stream and warm talks by the fire. There was as much play and there was work and we all felt like family in two days.
I felt this place was home before I ever arrived and with gracious ease we all slipped into our natural rhythm here held by the earth, the sea and one another. Few things in my life have actually ever felt this easy. We were family on day one. And on day two we were covered in mud.
If I could describe our week together in a word it would be “Heart”. The heart of all. Our days opened gently and the week was thread with song. We explored the island absorbing her gratuitous offerings. We hiked the hills, swam in the sea, played plenty of games and spent a lot of time simply in silence awakening to our world within as well as the surrounding world without. We found ourselves in the land, the sky, the practices and the many mirrors of each other.
To dive deep into the soul is a simple task when backed by so much love. I have such a tenderness in my heart in memory of these moments. So much of our week was based on the teachings we find through relationship. On our epic boat ride around Paros, Naxos and Koufonisia Julian said ‘‘I don’t want to be around any reflective surfaces”. Thus our hashtag for our trip was born.
Pumpkin Hollow, Summer Eclipse
My experience offering retreat until this weekend was only through the great journey of out of the country weeklong adventures. The birth of this long weekend retreat came through the deep encouragement of my beloved students. For that inspiration I bow in gratitude. This weekend left me totally transformed.
Our intention for the weekend was to cultivate a deeper understanding of universal connection and peace. We shared our hearts, devoted ourselves to prayer, sang with the coyotes, burned our shadows, brought our longings to light and fell in love with the land, the community and every sweet center of ourselves.
We gathered with purpose several times a day and devoted ourselves to practices to assist us in seeing ourselves and the many mirrors of one another. Many of us came as strangers and left as connected souls.
A very special song of praise to the staff of light beings of service and the power of the light fountain that is Pumpkin Hollow.
Nosara, Costa Rica
It was a quiet day in the early spring when I felt a strong call to hold space through the turn of the year. In response, this retreat was born. I had no idea where it would be at the moment, the hope was simply to be in an intentional space during an intentional time. Not without a few obstacles of being and location did we finally arrive here in Nosara, Costa Rica surrounded by butterflies by nature and spirit.
I held this space along side my light sister Kat Schamens. Who brought an abundance of laughter, radiance, encouragement and plenty of shine! She has a way of bringing out the star in all of us.
The teachings of the space offered clarity, openness, turmoil and tears. It offered hope and forgiveness, deep connection and acceptance. Each being on this trip offered a unique flavor to the soup of the entire experience and I am in gratitude for the journey we walked together and to have all spread our wings on the other side.
Not long after a couple girlfriends and I decided to head to Italy and the Greek Islands for my 30th birthday Lauren Fecarotta asked me if I wanted to lead a retreat with her on the island of Amorgos the following year. Of course! I was in! At the time the greek islands were still an unknown land to me and exploration was still my middle name.
My own first experience of Greece changed me forever. It opened pieces of my heart I never knew existed and I found the home of my spirit somewhere between the rocks and sea. Its the easiest place for me to pray, to love and simply to be.
I was nervous about holding space in a space so sacred to me. How would it be to serve in the lands that serve me. The magic of the islands served us all. The most fabulous swell of love and admiration for one another arose immediately under the moonlit sky over dinner overlooking the port in Athens. It felt like family on the first night.
We gave up our secrets, offered ourselves to the sea and way too much feta cheese. We lept from cliffs, gathered stones and spent hours roasting in the hammam. We entered the chapels with ease and honor. Sat humbled by Sister Irene in the presence of her pure heart and spirit. When I think of Greece thats the word that comes to me, pure. Purification of every soiled speck of you. An openness that'll crack any closures left in your heart leaving you with the ability to see love for what is really is.
Something mysteriously sweet happened this week and our hearts all ache at the memory of our union.
Lake Atitlan, Guatemala
There was a lot of shifting and reorganizing happening for me when Ania Lesniak asked me to lead retreat with her in Guatemala. I was seeking partnership and exploration of dynamics through the beings in my life. Ania and I had always had a really strong yet undiscovered connection. With eagerness to explore and gratitude I accepted. She lead me into a space I would never have gone on my own. All the way up Acatenango, a couple other volcanoes and the understanding that I am not in control.
The intimacy level of this retreat hit an all time high on day two when we all slipped into our skin suits in Cerro Tzankujil Nature Reserve and dove into the lake. Mermaids don't only exist in the sea.
This space offered a certain level of grounding. Surrounded by and focusing on the elements and how they affect and express through our being. There was a lot of late night banana grams and guitar solos by the fire. Quite a few saunas and hot tubs under the stars. I felt like I could really breathe there and much of my true essence showed up when I let go of the reigns.
Many lives shifted after this week. The beauty of the whole thing continues to impact our endless unraveling. You mustn't only go where you think you must, you must always go where the road leads you.
Santa Catalina, Panama
A retreat plan to head to Thailand had just recently fell through and I sat outside of Little Skips in Bushwick wondering how retreat was going to show up for me this year. Should I lead it solo? Where should I go? How do I even find a place? At the time I didn't really care where I ended up, I just wanted to hold space. That evening a woman named Vickie showed up in my class. I noticed her as soon as she entered the room. Sweet as can be she offered me praise on the class and slipped me her card informing me that she ran a retreat center in Panama and would love to host me if I felt called. The meeting was too serendipitous to ignore and thus began the journey to Panama.
I held space late January here with Kat Schamens. We'd been spending a lot of time together drinking iced coffee in McCarren Park on Wednesday mornings after class. In the midst of a day of dancing at Mister Sunday it only felt right we lead side by side.
This week was centered around the understanding of our subtle systems. Reflection on our relationship to our several layers of being and independent exploration of our surrounding world. There was also a lot of eye gazing and putting our feet behind our head. Dancing around the dinner table and pushing the boundaries of the practice.
I saw everyone that week and everyone saw each other.
Isla Holbox, Mexico
I had been teaching yoga for just a few years when this dream slipped into my mind. Leading retreats was something yoga teachers did right? I had been on one, I knew it was possible and I knew I could do it too. I assumed the week would be a lot like a winter vacation with some yoga thrown into the mix. Much to my surprise it ended up being one of the most life changing weeks to that date. It was after this retreat I understood deeply I would continue to do this with my life.
I lead this offering along side a very special being, Jayne Ebner. We had been learning and growing together, truly entangled with a connection only sisters feel. It was through her gift of discovering treasures that we arrived on the island of Holbox in Mexico.
From the great gift of the first time experience none of were ready for the flow of emotions, depth of connection, tosses and turns and Justin Bieber dances (courtesy of Kat Schamens herself) that lay ahead of us.
Focusing our energy around the development and awakening of the chakras system we found ourselves fueled, sharing, singing and loving like we'd known each other all lifelong.
We came together as a group of beings offering ourselves to the unknown and surfaced on the other side with prints so deep in our hearts I can still feel the pressure.