“When we travel with new eyes and receptive hearts, we touch humanity’s depth of spirit, and we become transformed.” ~ Lena Franklin, LCSW
Healing comes in many forms. Through my own healing journey, I discovered that we’re not alone in our suffering, and actually, we’re intimately connected to all beings through our shared sense of suffering. These are the compassionate teachings of Buddha. And through travel, we can begin embodying our own Buddha energy by planting seeds of oneness, allowing our sense of separateness to melt away.
Through the creation of Inner Journey Retreats, my dear friend and colleague, Meghan Toups, LPC, and I guide others on a journey toward greater peace, joy, and love through our wellness retreat offerings. Together, we share a mutual passion of fostering holistic healing through travel, mindfulness, and nutrition. Recently, we had the tremendous opportunity to collaborate with Linden Schaffer, an inspiring pioneer in the wellness travel world. In partnership with Linden and her company, Pravassa, we guided an exclusive women’s retreat to Santa Fe, New Mexico. Alongside an amazing group of women, we were off to the Southwest! The moment I stepped onto that plane was like stepping into the abyss of the unknown ~ energized by the story that would unfold before us. But there was one thing I knew for sure…I would return forever changed.
The courageous beings who joined us on this journey are wellness warriors who stepped into their power. Truly, those who sit in my office and who join me on retreat are great teachers of facing the darkness to begin reigniting the inner light. To look within the depth of self is nothing short of going to battle. Victories at one summit and paralyzing fear at another. Sensing mindful awareness in one moment, then, facing shame in another. But when we possess the willingness to risk our vulnerabilities, to step out of our day-to-day comfort zone, then we get a glimpse of what it means to live our truth, our satya. Traveling with this group of women was like creating a women warrior tribe, all traveling The Path to discover how to live one’s own best life.
The first noble truth Buddha taught was “because we live, we suffer.” By exploring this earth, we begin to learn how our ancestors suffered in the name of survival, freedom, and love. If we intentionally cultivate openness in the heartspace, we can become transformed by our compassion. In turn, we begin to see that we’re all trekking through life to capture the same things ~ love, acceptance and connection. These human elements are our birthright. We must commit ourselves to cultivating these elements for ourselves and for all beings in order to live joyful, fulfilling lives. One of my favorite teachers, Thich Nhat Hanh, says “compassion is a verb.” Each beautiful being who joined us in Santa Fe was a powerful compassion crusader, actively practicing the art of heart opening. In my memory, I’m transported to Ra Paulette‘s artfully carved cave where we meditated and experienced a transcendent crystal bowl sound bath. Together, through the stillness, our hearts vibrated as one.
Initially, we travel to escape, but ultimately, we travel to re-enter our lives. When we re-enter our lives, we come home to true self. All that we need flows like a river through the depths of our spirit. New people, landscapes, and cultures are catalysts for helping us come home to our truth. On the second leg of my Southwestern journey, I road-tripped to Tucson, Arizona for a LifeForce Yoga advanced training on trauma treatment. The mysterious desert landscape felt other worldly as I was immersed in daily asanas, mantras, and pranayamas for healing. The imprint our sacred Santa Fe sangha left on my heart created fertile ground for receiving teachings and connections in Tucson. And through the felt sense of oneness with all beings, with piercing desert silence washing over me, I came home. I was home in the true refuge of self. The sound of our dear teacher, Rose Kress, chanting The Gayatri Mantra floats through me:
Om. Bhur Bhuvah Swaha [Suvaha]
Tat Savitur Varen[e]yam. Bhargo Devasya Dhimahi
Dhiyo Yo Nah Pracchodayat [eh].
(We meditate on the glory of the Light that illuminates three worlds of existence: The physical, the astral, and the celestial realms. We recognize the Glory, splendor and grace of effulgent Light that shines within us. We pray for that final liberation, the awakening of our Self as Light that pervades the entire Universe.)
My life’s work is to share the power of reconnecting with your true nature of presence and compassion. I’m honored to be collaborating with Pravassa Wellness Travel to return to my Southeast Asian Buddhist roots this Fall. I extend a loving invite for you to join me on my next mindfulness retreat to Thailand November 11-20, 2016. Explore more about this spiritual journey, “Presence: Awakening the Inner Light,” HERE. For more about the therapeutic benefits of meditation, yoga, and other mind/body approaches, subscribe to my blog.
See you on The Path soon!