A 3-days Lululemon retreat with like-minded people stopped me in my tracks and forced me to look inward – something I haven’t done in a long time. It is something I didn’t dare do for a long time because in the recent years, I had never really liked what I found inside me.
I’d like to document what went down at the retreat as a reminder to myself.
I cannot remember the last time I truly honoured myself and practised mindfulness; when was the last time I truly tasted the food on my plate? Truly connected and had a conversation with my inner voice? Truly allowed myself to be in the present moment? Truly, completely, even brutally be honest with myself?
Was every “Thank you” or “Sorry” I uttered heartfelt? Do I always mean every word I say? Do I have to say every word I let out of my mouth?
For three days, there was meditation, yoga, discussions, dancing, talking to each other and lots of talking to ourselves.
We all brought our selves, a journal, a pen, a listening ear for that voice inside.
It started with simple questions, like
“Where in my life do I feel stuck?”
“Where do I know that something needs change but I don’t know how to approach it?”
“If I have approached it, why haven’t I experienced any change?”
“What are some beliefs I’ve created for myself that have limited my future?”
There are a million and one things in my life that I’m feeling stuck at.
And I think it all boils down to a lack of self-awareness and confidence.
Self-Awareness: knowing one’s internal states, preference, resources and intuitions
(Nope, haven’t got much of that.)
I guess a lot of us have been tuned by reality and life itself to make decisions based on logic and rational thoughts, overlooking the fact that we need to acknowledge our feelings (and even intuitions) to make effective decisions. I think deep diving into “feelings” is a scary thing. I’d like to think that I do that quite often – almost on a daily basis – though always in fleeting moments. I brush the emergence of these thoughts aside because it stops me from functioning “up to expectations”. Other times, I thought perhaps I should not dwell and mull over things so much. I often get lost and end up feeling more confused, it does me no good and it just brings me down. In fact, I know many would find it easier to brush it aside; leave it for another day or even repress feelings to avoid a confrontation with oneself . I’m someone like that too. Simply because that is the easier way out.
“Time will tell”, “it will go away”, “I’ll figure it out naturally, eventually”.
Confrontations of any kind is intimidating, imagine how immense that fear would be, and how difficult it would be to work things out within oneself. If self-awareness and mindfulness was easy, why do we even need to practise it?
During one of the sessions, we were told to imagine us at a birthday party for our 100-year-old selves. (Honestly, my first thought was, I hope I don’t live till a hundred)
Imagine you’re at your 100th birthday party. You can hear the bustle around you, people chatting, laughing – these are the people who love you and care for you. Your family, your friends, your children, your future children, your grandchildren, your future grandchildren, people whom you’ve inspired, whose lives you’ve touched – they are all gathered in one space just for you. Suddenly, you heard the clinging of a glass, someone is going to make a toast to you.
We were told to write that toast.
I sat there and stared down at my journal. I couldn’t think of one nice thing to say about myself. I looked around and saw my mates scribbling away, and I asked myself if there was something wrong with myself. Then I thought, “Could it be because I secretly do not wish to live until 100?” Then I tried to outsmart the logical Peggy and imagined myself writing my own eulogy. I still couldn’t come up with anything.
What do I want to be remembered for? What in my life is worth celebrating? What about myself am I proud of? What do I want to do to make myself proud? Who is Peggy? Do I not like the person that I am?
I don’t know.
It bothered me. I think I haven’t made peace with a lot of things within me.
On the third day of the retreat, the 20 odd 30 people in the group were made to form two lines, facing each other. The first person at each line took turns to walk down the aisle, and to put their ears to every person in the lines to hear what they have to say about us – words of affirmation, something they feel from us, vibes or whatever. I was a little uncomfortable at first because I haven’t had the opportunity to speak and interact with every single one of them. I didn’t want to say something for the sake of saying. I was awfully quiet throughout the retreat and kept to myself quite a fair bit until towards the end of the retreat. In fact, I found it intimidating to even speak up in a roomful of vibrant and loud personalities. Besides, it has only been 3 days, how would I know much about anyone in such a short period of time? I flustered and started to look at their faces, trying to prep myself with answers in my head.
But as bizarre as it sounds, as each and every one of them walked towards me, I knew exactly what to say. You know? That strange way two persons can connect to each other, or how you can feel the energy off somebody even without much interaction or long periods of time spent together? Odd.
But the thing that totally caught me off guard was something else…
They whispered into my ear that I am witty, that I am smart, that I am quietly powerful, that I am brave, that I have a beautiful mind while I walked down the aisle in silence, looking at the floor. I glanced up and uttered a sincere and heartfelt thank you whenever something they said moved me.
Why do people who hardly even know me have good things to say about me when I cannot even find one thing in my life that is worth toasting to?
I broke down.
Do I even say these words of affirmation to the people whom I hold close to my heart? Words are so powerful. I regret so many things that I’ve ever said. Why did I even allow that to happen to myself?
It is 5:23am now and I am just blabbering.
One thing is for sure though, I need to ask myself more questions more frequently, and to listen to what the Peggy inside me has to say. What gives me joy? What makes me different from others? What/who/where makes me feel most alive and reminds me of who I truly am? What makes me feel vulnerable, and why? What do I value? What are the things I make myself do even when I don’t want to? What moves me and touches me deeply? What depresses my spirit and weighs me down, and why is that so?
Why is it hard to strip myself naked even for myself?
Freedom to me is to be able to accept and be at peace with one’s self and circumstances. Am I free?
The gathering of 30 strangers, who were made to sit in a huge circle to “discuss feelings, insecurities, vulnerabilities and goals” started out as an uncomfortable idea for me. “It feels like university orientation all over again,” I said. “And it was more than a decade ago when I’ve last done something like that.”
It is like an orientation indeed, except this time, we are a group of 30 strangers who gathered together to each orientate within ourselves.
All of us need a bit of soul searching sometimes. Dig deep.