It’s sunrise in Greece. I had this thought earlier this morning, after sleeping for 5 hours during my first night here in Paros: I love my life. A massive event took place last night as I ate dinner with the small group of eager students who had arrive a day before the start of this retreat, an event that, with little fanfare, was celebrated with raised glasses of wine and kind words from the gang…and at the risk of leaving you hanging, I’ll stay mum on said event until the time is right.
The event itself is irrelevant to the point I’m trying to make. The second I reflected on how much I love my life, I realized that it wasn’t MY life that I was feeling bowled over by, it was the possibilities contained within life itself. By calling it MY life, I felt like I was fraudulently claiming proprietary rights over it, which is ridiculous.
I’m currently living a period in my life where the possibilities that life has shown me could be more than mere possibilities are impressive and surprising and nurturing and humbling. These possibilities are not solely available to me, I’ve just made it my mission in life to explore the boundaries of what’s possible, of what could potentially redefine what I had foolishly believed life to be. These possibilities are not only available to every single one of us regardless of what colour our skin is, how much money we have in the bank, what are our education looks like on paper, and what language we speak…these possibilities are waiting. For each and every one of us.
It’s 5:14 PM and I’m on a ferry cruising from Athens towards the Cycladic Island Chain to bring us to the island of Paros, where I’ll be giving the second European Yoga Retreat for 2013. I won’t write too much – I’m much too aware of where I am, of the rolling Mediterranean waves on either side of me, and of the silhouettes of islands rolling by in their salt-and-sun obscured haze.
I’m back in Greece. I’ve come home again. Back to where I first got the nudge from the universe I had asked for back in 2008, when I decided to chuck it all in and leave my career behind because I wasn’t happy with or proud of how I was earning a living. Greece is the one spot in the world where I feel most connected to my spirit. It’s where I feel most connected to rawness of the elements, and where I feel my body exhale and let go of all tensions, more so than at any other time or in any other place.
I’m with Stephane, James and Katie. We landed together and spent our day together, transferring from Athens Airport to the Rafina Port, assuming that the 6 hours we had between arriving and departing for Paros would be taxing. It’s always a test in staying conscious after flying overnight. That first day after a break in the typical sleep cycle is always peppered with sensory overload…squinting at the light that’s just a tad too bright, shrinking from the noise of the foreign sounds that seem to follow you wherever your path leads you. The assumption that today would be a challenge was unfounded. We caught the shuttle bus to the port easily, chowed down on a Greek salad that reminded us what REAL tomatoes, olives and feta cheese was, and then dragged our luggage the 50 metres to the beach. Clothes hurriedly flew off our bodies, and we launched ourselves into the ocean…and time stood still. It was a perfect moment. One to wash off the residue of the flight, one in which the others tasted their first drop of vacation, and yet another one for me in which I found myself tasting the salt of the sea as my body floated weightless, thinking, “I am at work.”
We splashed around for another hour and then walked back to where the ferry picked us up, and here we are, flying through the magnificence that is the Mediterranean towards our home for the next 11 days. I’m looking forward to seeing everyone together, to seeing the faces of those from past retreats, as well as those whose faces I’ve never seen.
I have always tended to work in 5-year chunks of time. From buying and selling property to carving out my niche in yoga, I have typically allowed myself a full 5 years to execute what I needed to, knowing that through hard work, dedication, and respecting the process, I would find myself exactly where I needed to be. Without trying too hard to see the end in the beginning, I have learned that the 5-year allowance always brings me to where I can continue to move forward, even if it’s not where I would have envisioned myself.
I told myself late in 2008 that a big change was coming, that I was going to drop everything I had built career-wise up to then and focus on foraging my way to a place where I could help people heal using yoga asana and philosophy. I also told myself that if after 5 years I simply wasn’t content with how things were evolving, I would rethink my plans. Little did I know how authentically I would be pursuing and beginning to live my dharma, and how after even one year I was hope-FULLY devoted to my life’s work.
It’ll be 5 years in November since that fortuitous chapter of my life, and 2013 is indeed the year of fruition. Traveling to Calgary and being received so warmly by the Bodhi Tree Yoga community…my jaunt to Kripalu this Sunday to get my Level 1 iRest® Yoga Nidra training…this summer’s Montreal Yoga Festival…the Wanderlust Whistler Festival…the Weekend Yoga & Personal Development Retreat that I am blessed to be giving with my mentor and friend Jennifer Maagendans…the Yoga City Break in Istanbul that I just returned from and fear putting words to so as not to diminish how truly perfect and magnificent and beaming-with-light it was…these are the just the things on my radar. There is much more waiting to be revealed to me, but there is a new blip on said radar that I am adding to the list of incredible events for 2013: Yoga Retreat on the Greek Island of Paros.
I have known that I would eventually organize and lead 2 retreats annually, and so this year is the year for it. One City Break and one beach retreat. Both set in locations that allow participants to feel truly away-from-home, both with dramatically surreal landscapes. I am returning to Greece simply because of its beauty. And its beaches. And its food. And its warmth (temperature and otherwise). Greece has been so good to my students and myself (ask anyone from the 2011 Yoga Retreat in Santorini), and I have been told by a few Greek friends that Paros is a true gem in the Cycladic Greek Island Chain, and so voilà! Here we go 🙂
The retreat will be a 10-day event – arriving on the island on Wednesday, September 11 and meeting as a group that evening, holding the last morning class on Saturday, September 21. We will be staying at a family-run, environmentally-conscious hotel minutes away from the beach, and where 3 meals daily will be prepared for us. Shuttle service to and from Paros airport or the ferry port is included in the price, as are the 90-minute daily morning classes, intended to instill everyone with clarity and perspective to fully be able to live the retreat to its fullest. Things to do while on retreat include excursions to neighbouring islands (which include Santorini), Greek cooking classes, going for dinner at different locations on the island (already included in the retreat cost), or simply listening to the waves of the ocean crash on the shore.
I am doing this retreat simply from a place of gratitude. Now don’t misunderstand me – this is my business and passion, my livelihood, my raison-d’être, if you will. I hold these retreats to be able to show participants how majestic our world is, and how capable they are of taking a decision to create a moment in their lives that they’ll never forget and always cherish. But I do it all from a place of gratitude. I want to share my passion for yoga and travel, and this is year 5. Join me in Greece as I ride it out as best I can, with humility, love, and gratitude.