shawnalight@gmail.com

Opening up to the inner spaciousness of our own heart

My reflections from Savour Simplicity retreat 2023

Inside Savor simplicity retreat

One of the biggest takeaways for me from last weekend’s retreat is to give yourself full permission to be yourself.  

It can be easier said than done.  To “let our light shine”, to “take a risk”, or to “be authentic”.  What happens when we do that?  What happens when we do that in safe space? In sacred space?  

What happens when we open the inner spaciousness of our own heart to ourselves?

I have numerous examples from the “Savor Simplicity” retreat that I lead with my friend, Amy Soucy.  And, those stories will live on in my heart.

There were participants breaking old cycles and ways of being. There were others who stepped out and did something they never have done in front of people!  Others shared from the heart the hurt and heartache they were going through. Others shared of loss, and others shared of incredible love they have found.

As each danced (and literally danced sometimes, not just metaphorically, as I tend to write), spoke, expressed, laughed, cried, and listened, the unfolding of possibility rippled through every other soul.  

  • As one Being exuded strength to change, we all were empowered!  
  • As one Being showed us how to live freely, we all become more free!  
  • As one Being held another with love, we all were held!  
  • As one Being held another with kindness, we all became the Holder.
  • As one Being expressed love, we all became love and loved. 

 

This retreat was something extraordinary.  Every retreat holds something special. And, this one will stand out for me for a long time to come.

To be the holder and the held is quite extraordinary. In a meditation that my current teacher, Tara Brach, says, “you are the holder and the held.” How nurturing.  

We can hold one another and ourselves. And, we are held.  We are held by others, and even when not, we are held by love. We are held by that which is not seen, though at times felt.  

We are held by an invisible cloak of warmth, support, empowerment, fearlessness, love, understanding, forgiving, and accepting essence. 

I watched people transform before my own eyes at this retreat. I saw some come out of their shells.  I watched others, still, settle into their bodies and soften.  Eyes became brighter.  Curiosity and aliveness of spirit restored.

Ease and steadiness were deepened as the participants began to connect.  Some have known each other from previous retreats, and some have not.  Some know each other from the tiny zoom squares on my screen week after week, and some do not.  And then there were two participants completely new to anyone, well, almost! (One of the two I had been within my Intuition Lab, and Source brought us together in retreat, without either of us planning it! Wow!)

Lots of first-time retreat people, and such a wide range of ages, ethnicities, cultural backgrounds, bodies, practices, men(yeah men on retreat!), women, non-binary, and so much more! Oh my goodness my heart is full!

So, what would you need in order to be you? 

I believe that some of the ingredients what people need in order to be totally vulnerable, authentic, real, and open are as follows.  What else would you add?:

  • good space holding facilitators (yes, like Amy and I!)
  • a safe environment (yes, like Himalayan Institute!)
  • brave and caring community, even when you know no one (exactly like our participants!)
  • ground “rules” (as we did community agreement and best practices to offer deep listening and authentic sharing!)
  • acknowledging silence (welcoming silence as a part of the experience so there is time to take inner and our ‘sacred pauses’, as I call them, for reflection.  Responses happen versus reactions.)
  • play!  (Oh, we got down y’all!)
  • nature (always helps! Himalayan Institute has trails, ‘Sound of Music Hill’, swimming pond, deer and more!)

 

If you are leaving and doing this all at a location other than home:

  • a safe space as the living ashram that the Himalayan Institute is 
  • supportive staff
  • healthy food
  • chocolate doesn’t hurt! And vegan, gluten-free s’mores atop Sound of Music Hill with drumming, fire ceremony, sound healing, singing, the best company, and one of THE most transformational moments of the weekend! But I gusshhh! 😉

 

{You have to check out Moka Origins, that is part of the ashram! You can take a chocolate tour while there if you wish.}

There were so many transformative moments on this retreat. I am sure each person has their own personal moments too.  I partly know because of our sharing in the closing circle. What others shared is for them and the group to hold in their hearts forever, so you will just have to join us next retreat, dear reader!! (Read below for hints!)

And, I would love to share a deeply transformative experience that I had. It was one of ownership, love, self-acceptance, and growth.

It also came during the closing circle. After reading my little story here, check out the postcards from Spirit card that I had drawn during the retreat! Wow!

To keep it brief, and very top-level, during the pandemic I experienced something inside a group container that truly knocked me off my feed. It pulled the Earth out from underneath me. I might share this story when it’s ready to be told, but not here. What’s important to know is that it started a flow of fear and constant worry in me. 

“Could I be as inclusive as I hoped to be? Was I a good facilitator, friend, and person? Who was I anymore?  Was I bad in some way?  Had I been going about my work all wrong?  What would others think?”

Oh yeah, just some inner turmoil, you know, nothing big! 🥴(I am being sarcastic here.)

What this retreat was for me was COMPLETE validation that I am!  I AM!  I am a great facilitator and retreat leader, and even though I know I can hold space well, now I know I can hold it for even more diverse groups and that they have felt held and seen by me.

I know where my heart lives. I know my intention and can hold space for whatever impacts because no matter how received, I will show up.  I listen.  I feel.  I care.  I love.  

I still have a lot to learn.  My current training is teaching me just how much!  

And, I am forever grateful to this retreat, those participants who were in it, to Amy Soucy who trusts me deeply (and I trust her), and to how EVERYTHING held us all! Grateful!  Thank you Source!!!

I wanted to give Amy the option to share inside this blog too.  This is what she sent:

From quiet morning meditations to wild, joyful dancing (and bouncing balls!), fire ceremonies and s’mores to heartfelt, honest sharing, the LOVE and connection was palpable and so healing… a very necessary thing these days! 

We both feel transformed, renewed and even more committed and excited to create healing retreats where we can all meet one another in the heart. And that is thanks to YOU!!”

I hope you will join us/me in my/our next retreat! 

What would you need to know in order to feel brave/safe/excited to come? Email me!

And!!!!

Perhaps it will be next April!? Amy and I are considering Sicily!!!

Or perhaps the Himalayan Institute in July again?!! Amy and I have asked them if we can make it a yearly event!!!!

Email me if you want to be placed on a waitlist and be the first to know about retreats!  

 

 

All my love,

Shawna 

Breathe and Believe.