What can happen when you stop worrying and go with the flow? One of our frequently traveling travel yogis answers the question for us from her experience at Jen Pastiloff’s Manifestation Retreat in Bali…
I am a married, working mother, (personal trainer) with 2 children and a household to run. The very idea of me flying off to Bali, was insane. Who would take care of my children? Who would get them to their activities, who would food shop, make sure dinner was ready and get the homework done. Who would train my clients and cover my classes? Who would walk the dog? To make it a bit more interesting, the trip fell on Thanksgiving week, perfect. But, I had silently committed to myself that I would go with the flow. So I went with the flow.
When I responded to that text I was in a place in my life where I needed something. At the time I wasn’t sure what it was that I needed, but I knew something was missing, so did my husband. I wasn’t unhappy, I just felt like I was not in touch with me anymore. My life was about my family and my job, not that I didn’t love both, I just had no idea who I was anymore. I felt like everything was moving so fast I didn’t have a moment to breathe. I was losing me. I knew when I responded to that text that I would go to Bali. And I knew that I would make sure it would be ok with everyone in my life, they would be taken care of, we would all benefit from this trip.
The process of getting ready to go in and of itself was a transformative experience. In preparing to leave my family and go to the other side of the planet, I was doing what any guilt-ridden, control freak mom would do; I was trying to plan for and create plans and contingency plans for every possible, albeit unlikely, scenario that might occur in my absence.
I always knew I was a control freak and that mommy-guilt was my achilles heel. But isn’t “knowing” our stuff really the “booby prize”? It’s when we can actually observe our stuff holding us back and in the moment and consciously choose to make the change – that’s when we get the real prize. Having this experience in front of me allowed the space for me to observe where guilt and control stop me, make the change and go with the flow.
Upon arriving in Hong Kong, where we had a 19 hour layover, I realized, for first time in my life, I am in a country where I know exactly one person; my friend who is sitting across the table from me. That’s it. One person. I’ve never felt so isolated and empowered at the same time. I knew anything that would happen would be left for us to handle. I decided then that I would flow like water throughout this trip. I wasn’t going to try to be in control, nor would I feel guilty if I did or didn’t want to do something. I didn’t want either my friend or me to feel obligated to have to do (or not do) something just because the other one wanted it.
We met some of our fellow retreat-goers upon arriving at the Bali airport. We got to know each other along the drive to the Soulshine Villa, where we would be spending the next week together. I don’t want to sound all woo woo, but from the moment I met the people I would living with for the next week, I felt a connection to them. Each of the 19 people attending this retreat had their reasons for being there some shared with the group and some were private. But all 19 of these people touched my life in such a way that I think about them every day.
Upon arriving at the Soulshine, you walk up a long walk way to an open air reception area. It’s a peaceful, serene inviting area with large comfy couches. We met the staff, introduced ourselves to each other, took photos and enjoyed fresh juice.
From the very first day we were a cohesive group. Due to the time change, we all woke up very early (between 4 and 5am), we would gather in the reception area for tea, some would watch the sun rise, some would be catching up with relatives at home, some would be chatting. We got to know each other in these early morning hours.
Jen would lead us in morning yoga at 7am. I should point out that yoga with Jen is not your average yoga. There are the traditional asanas (poses), meditation and music (I can’t listen to Elton John or the Notorious B.I.G. without thinking of Jen). What Jen brings to the table is unique in that she creates a theme for her class, forgiveness, gratitude, love… she reads relevant poetry, then invites class participants to journal about their thoughts on the theme for the class – in between the poses. Somehow the mix of the outdoor yoga studio overlooking rice patties, the monks chanting in the distance, the thought that I was doing yoga in the same place that Michael Franti does yoga (he owns Soulshine and I am, by far, his BIGGEST fan), she creates a space of safe, self-reflective discovery.
It quickly became very easy to flow.
Throughout the retreat we practiced yoga twice a day, we ate breakfast and dinner together and explored the artist’s town of Ubud during the day. The space at the Soulshine seemed to become part of our group as well. (In full disclosure I have to admit that I loved the Soulshine before I arrived simply because of who owns it.) But, in truth, I believe that space provided the opportunity to transform 19 strangers in to a family. The staff is a living example of the culture of Bali. This culture is one of gratitude, community, spirituality and genuine love. This culture and the space we lived in infused itself with our family of 19. Throughout our time in Bali we shared, expressed gratitude and loved one another. We celebrated Thanksgiving, we rode elephants, we saw monkeys and we spoke with Michael Franti on the phone, (I am truly not sure which of these is my favorite.)
I am grateful for every moment I spent in Bali, at the Soulshine, with my family of 19. I am grateful for what it took for me to get there and for everything I’ve learned since my return. I continue to go with the flow and am excited to learn where yoga will take me next.
From her own experiences of processing the pain and anguish of childhood sexual abuse and breast cancer, Lockey Maisonneuve learned the importance of finding balance and peace. Lockey believes balance and peace are the cornerstones of healing. She has used yoga, breathing techniques and journaling to advance her own healing. Lockey gives herself permission to balance the good and the bad and the peace to make mistakes and try again. She is certified as a personal trainer, cancer exercise specialist and yoga instructor. Monthly contributor to Positively Positive.