I’ve been on a healing journey for quite some time now. Where I need quiet. To be able to think. To be able to write. Where I need to eat nourishing foods. Where I need to adhere to a schedule. To follow a sensory diet. To keep my nervous system regulated. Where I need to practice meditation and yoga. To set intentions. To move through the pain. And where I practice staying in the present. Not moving too much into the future (ahem, anxiety). Not moving too much into the past (ahem, depression). And not fleeing my body altogether (ahem, dissociation).
So I decided to go to Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health. Thinking I was going for the writing and the yoga. Thinking this trip would fulfill two purposes. But it ended up fulfilling so much more.
I knew I had been making major progress over the last two years. I was regulating my nervous system. Getting massages to help move my fascia and release chronic pain. Doing yoga, meditating and journaling to be mindful of my feelings. Which meant I was dissociating less. And was feeling like I was able to be more centered. Focused. Mindful. But being at Kripalu would force me into a present state of being unlike any other I’d ever known.
While there, we had scheduled meals where they provided a vegetarian buffet. So I could choose nourishing foods without having to put too much thought into it. Eating each meal felt comforting. Warming. There was even a silent dining area with a closed door. So I could eat in quiet. While gazing at the mountains. Guiding myself to be in the present.
In our writing sessions, we meditated. We wrote. We shared. We learned. In between writing sessions, we did yoga. We relaxed in the sun while looking out at the trees and the lake and the mountains. We ate again. We meditated again. We wrote again. All while we were guided by our teachers to be in the present. To be in our bodies. To observe. And to let go.
At first, I felt overwhelmed by the strict routine. Meals were only served during certain times, and considering we were on a 100-acre lot, there was nowhere else to go to get food. The writing sessions were also only during certain times. So were the yoga classes. Which meant I had to follow strict schedules during each day. Schedules that, at times, conflicted with my own. Pushing me. Making me feel scattered. Like I couldn’t go at my own pace. Like I’d somehow landed in some intense-healing boot camp. One that maybe I wasn’t ready for. Where I was feeling all of my feelings at once. Afraid I couldn’t keep up. Feeling so grounded in nature and in my body that I had nowhere else to go.
But that was just it: I had no where else to go. I’ve had no where else to go. For even when I try to leave, my body is still here. Taking on the burdens of my life. Time to share the blessings with it too.
My last day there, I felt free. Reborn. In my body. Calm. Joyful. Present. It was as if the schedule of two days of intense therapy: for the mind, body and soul, was exactly what I needed. As if it had somehow stopped a cycle of dissociation I’d been in. A multiple-decade-long cycle. And I was beginning to hear myself once again. Like the voice of a relative who’s been gone for years. The familiar voice that echos in your head from time to time. That you want to hold on to for all its wisdom and comforts. A voice you lose track of when you dissociate. But that you can get back once you learn to be inside yourself again.
When you dissociate often, you lose your ability to be present. You are not in your body. And thus can no longer hear the voice inside of you. Your higher self. Your authentic self. The one that guides you toward peace and calm. Toward the light. Toward living in the moment you’re in.
On my last day there, I woke up and meditated in front of my bedroom window overlooking the trees and the lake and the mountains. I ate a silent breakfast of a tasty scone and coffee outside in the cold. I observed what was around me. Engaging my senses. Engaging my vagus nerve. Engaging my body. Keeping me in the moment.
I noticed how delicious the food was. How good it felt to breathe in the crisp air. How in awe of nature I was. How the cup of coffee warmed my hands. I even noticed a snowflake that landed on my glasses. One I normally would have wiped off, but instead, I observed. I also observed how calm, quiet and grounding it felt to be surrounded by nature. I heard my inner voice speaking clearly to me. Guiding me. Allowing me to stay in the present. And I felt peace. A peace I had never truly known.
Now home, I’m attempting to hold on to what I had while there. To keep the pace. The peace. The schedule. The mindfulness. To eat nourishing foods. To write. To meditate. To do yoga. To be in nature. And to listen to myself. To love myself. To heal completely.
I hope that you find ways to stay in the present moment. Especially if you dissociate often, have anxiety or are depressed. Ways to allow yourself just to be. To regulate your nervous system. To be grounded in nature. To be mindful. And to hear yourself. In each moment you are in. Helping you to feel safe. Helping you to feel loved. Helping you to be present.