Surrounded by Shakti

Can I see another’s woe, and not be in sorrow too? 
Can I see another’s grief, and not seek for kind relief? 
– William Blake

What’s that saying about bad things happening in threes? On the last three retreats, in order, I: got horribly ill; had a raging fire burning a few miles behind my house that threatened the possibility of evacuation, and this weekend, my back went out. Alright, shit happens and it’s never usually good timing, but what nags at me most about this is that I strive to be an example of how to lead a healthy, balanced life. It dominates my personal and professional life. So what’s up with getting hit three times in a row with challenges to that? In the midst of following my dharma to lead others towards health? (“The yoga teacher threw her back out? wtf?”)

To every dark cloud there is a silver lining. In this case, I have recognized and been on the receiving end of the compassionate and nurturing tendencies of women. (Forgive me guys, I know some of you are capable too, but it’s definitely the girls who excel.) Kate, our retreat chef, immediately saw the ashen look on my face and handed me an ice pack. Casey, our assistant chef, gave me a reiki session that brought me to tears of release. Vi, our massage therapist, drove an hour to be there to work on me. Kate even brought me dinner in bed! All of them, plus Janice, Autumn, Addie and Jessica, ran the show that must go on. I had nothing to worry about with the retreat, so I could focus on healing my body that had decided to make a strong statement that I needed a time out. Despite the inconvenient timing, and the fact that I sorely missed being part of everything.

I’m not going to lie, I felt sorry for myself. I felt angry and frustrated that my body would let me down, and worried that our retreaters would be left wondering how I could be a leader in healthy living with back episodes that have the tendency to incapacitate me. And then this voice in my head said: don’t be sad/mad/fill-in-negative-emotion-here – be grateful. Be grateful for being surrounded by love and support in a time of need. Because isn’t that what it’s all about, anyways? I’d like to think that I have helped others; it was my turn to receive help. And boy, did I get it. I felt it all around me, and I didn’t have to even ask for what I needed because everyone else was anticipating it for me. What an immense relief. What a feeling of being nurtured by Shakti, female energy.

As women, we are typically in the caregiver role, whether it’s small daily things like packing family lunches to larger, longer term things like caring for a sick relative or friend. We do it because we care, because we are strong, because we are empathetic. But, we are also always trying to balance our caregiving side with how to practice self-care. I like to think that we offer some insight on that on our retreats. I guess I just never anticipated that during one, I’d be the person in need of care. I am overwhelmed with gratitude for the people that provided it. Namaste.