We only had 1 week end between the 4th and 5th weekends of training, despite this I regained the motivation from the first week ends and started to catch up on my reading every time I got a chance, neglecting my handstand practice but feeling more knowledgeable already.
I get the feeling that I’ve been saying this after every weekend, but this was for me, the best weekend to date, by quite a while. I am wondering how to talk about it since it feels like it mainly consisted of long periods of silence but I will try my best using the words I know to describe the different forms of silence and what it can bring to us.
The days before our 5th week end everyone around me started talking about the beautiful weekend ahead, it was due to be the warmest/sunniest weekend of the year. Those of you who live in London will appreciate that after a long and drizzly winter, the thought of being indoors for those first rays of sunshine can be quite distressing. Although my FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) is totally under control these days, I kept checking the weather forecast and calculating how much sun I could get before 8am, during our lunch breaks and after 7pm, it wasn’t a lot, but the excitement of spending the weekend with my tribe helped me accept that I would be missing out on the hottest, potentially the only (you never know in the UK!) week end of the Summer.
On the Friday evening we got a notification from our training facilitator saying, ‘Please make sure you are at the studio at 7.45am tomorrow as we have a treat for you #mindfulwalk’. This was enough to keep me awake as I lay in bed at 10pm on a Friday night, thinking about walking in the sun. As soon as my alarm rang in the morning I jumped out of bed, meditated, blended some green stuff, packed my food, clothes, notebooks etc and made my way to the studio with a big smile on my face.
We started with a brief meditation, during which we were tapped on the shoulder as a cue to get up and head onto our mindful walk with another yogi. As I meditated (I was mainly waiting for my turn realising that I would be happy with whoever I was paired with). Our turn came, we put our shoes on and started walking towards the river as advised. We had 3 simple instructions, no talking, no phones and lots of Seeing. The first few moments by the busy road were a bit overwhelming as they tend to be every time I come out of the quiet yoga studio but as soon as we turned onto a quiet, leafy road, my senses awoke to the beauty of the blossoming trees, the smell of flowers and the singing of the birds. We walked side by side, in silence, taking in our surroundings. Once we reached the river a few others had stopped to look at the rowers, so we joined them and some ducks came waddling to greet us. I’m not sure of how long we stayed there but I noticed the sound of the little Thames waves crashing onto the river sides. I walk past the river often, yet there are many things I noticed during that walk which I hadn’t before. It made me wonder how much time I spend looking at the world through my phone, as I take photos or with music in my ears when the song of nature is also worth listening to.
We carried onto Bishops Park where we sat in the grass in a big circle to share our experience of the walk. We did a practice teach in the sun before heading back to the studio. We joined a public class, had lunch in the sun, learnt the last parts of the sequence and did some self inquiry around Who we are. My own conclusion from that conversation is that I am energy, of all the things that I’ve always considered to define me, that is the one that is not determined by what I ‘have’ or what I ‘do’ (ie: I am a sister because I have a brother or I am a yogi because I do yoga). I could write a whole post about this but I think it’s more of a conversational topic.
As the day came to a close, we were informed that we would be doing Solemn Silence from the moment we left the studio until the next morning after our group meditation. This had already been mentioned during the day and I was really looking forward to it. I had warned my housemates and my boyfriend so they wouldn’t worry about my uncharacteristic speechless behaviour. Although I hadn’t found silence uncomfortable during the morning walk, I felt awkward as I met my lovely housemate’s best friend for the first time. Luckily she had been warned, but for a moment I wished I could have said a few words to her as our culture’s communication is mainly focused around speech. Hopefully my big smile was enough to make her feel welcome into our home and perhaps it even rose a bit of interest into what I am up to… Fortunately by the time I decided to cook, my flat was empty. I would normally play music and keep an eye on my phone but I chose to spend time with myself in silence. The colours of the peppers seemed abnormally bright and the spices I used in my cooking tasted more fragrant than usual. The first few moments of my dinner I was tempted to reach out for a book or a magazine but I didn’t and I enjoyed my romantic dinner for one so much that I thought to myself I would do it more often. I spent the evening writing in my journal and went to bed early. The next day I woke up so early that I decided to go for another mindful walk by the river, I walked for 40 minutes, taking in the beauty of my neighbourhood on a sunny Sunday morning and was grateful to have all my senses and even felt a bit of guilt for not using them fully all the time.
Meeting every one in the morning at the studio was actually a very connecting experience, the usual greetings and banal ‘how are you’s were replaced by smiles, nods, hugs and silence. After our group meditation a part of me didn’t want to break the precious silence and I didn’t even share my experience with the others as I wanted to talk as little as possible. Until then, I had never considered going to a silent retreat, although I realise that an overnight silence is just a beginning I would now be interested in trying a whole weekend – watch this space.
We shifted the energy in the room by getting in pairs and doing some Udiyana Bandha work and assisting each other into handstands. It’s amazing how much freedom we gain from trusting ourselves and one another.
We did some Anatomy work and I discovered the Psoas muscle, all I can say is, life will never be the same! If like me, you have never heard about it, do a little research and make sure you give it lots of Love as it is crucial to our whole body’s movement. We joined a public class, during which I was hyper awared of my Psoas and took it really easy. Our facilitator kindly gave us a super long lunch so we could relax in the sun before doing 3 consecutive hours of practice teach. We all dragged our feet a little but once in the room we were all there for each other as all 27 yogis (1 was at a wedding) stood up and taught. I loved teaching and being taught my yogi sisters and brothers. It seemed so obvious to me then, that we all had it in us all along and this course was simply helping us reveal the ‘teacher’ within us. The methodology and EVERYTHING else we have learnt so far are essential to our development as teachers but we are not changing who we are, just learning ways to use our own greatness.
We finished at 6pm, in time to walk to the river with some sushi and watch the sun go down. We really are a lucky bunch.