The personal retreat that restored my soul…
After my breakdown, I knew it was time for me to finally take a personal retreat. I was shocked when I paused to look back over the last 14 years (my entire adult life) and realized I had never taken a vacation all by myself. The exception to this was when I went to Spain to study abroad after finishing grad school, but I met my husband the second day I got there and the trip took on a whole new purpose if you know what I mean (I’ll save that juicy story for another day). I took lots of trips, but all of them were either with my husband, family or friends.
After hours of searching for retreat centers not too far from DC, I landed on Yogaville. I have wanted to stay at an ashram for the longest (especially after reading Eat.Pray.Love), but haven’t yet been able to get to India to visit one there (I had it fixed in my mind that I had to go there to go to one). Who knew that all this time there was such a magical place right in my backyard.
I decided to go during the week so that it wouldn’t be so busy with tourists (and also so that the boys would be in school which would make the time away easier on my husband). I arrived on Tuesday, January 26th, and left the evening of Thursday, January 28th. It was truly one of the best things I’ve ever done for myself. I spent my days in meditation, prayer, yoga class, taking nature walks, eating amazing vegan meals, getting a massage, reading, journaling, and just simply being. There were people there from all faiths and walks of life – I was truly blessed by their words of wisdom as I shared my stresses.
On my second day there, I took a walk in the woods that I will never forget. After being in meditation and near silence for a day and a half, I had an incredible sense of calm about me. I walked slowly and soaked in the pure beauty of the trees, waterfalls, rocks, and the sounds of the crickets and other animals. I felt more alive than I had felt in a long time – there was something incredibly powerful that I received from that time in the woods. It’s hard to describe, but it was like a purification of the soul.
Another highlight of the trip was the time I spent at the LOTUS Shrine (Light of the Truth Universal Shrine) – a temple dedicated to interfaith understanding. It was one of the most beautiful places I had seen in a while and the messages I received from the displays from all faiths were powerful. See below for some of my favorite quotes from the shrine. They were good reminders to me that while so many people stand firm in their belief that their religious/spiritual path is the “right” or “only” way, there is really only one truth that runs through them all. The tagline for the shrine is “Truth is one, paths are many” – indeed.
“We are on a market trip on earth, whether we fill our baskets or not, once the time is up, we go home” ~Ibo, Nigeria
“Faith is like a sacred fire, pass it from generation to generation without extinguishing it” ~Konko Daijin, Shinto
“Do not judge your neighbor until you walk two moons in his moccasins” ~Cheyenne Tribe
The meditation room at the shrine was absolutely incredible. There were quotes about “light” (what a great choice ;-)) from each religion placed around a circular room and the each display had a beam of light that met at the top of the room, as one. The energy in that room was like no other – you could feel it radiate through you. People from all faiths were in there praying or meditating daily, together, in the way that works best for them. Powerful. Truly powerful.
Since that trip, I have been meditating and practicing yoga almost daily and have continued with a vegetarian diet. It was definitely the kick start to my spiritual transformation and healing. I am forever grateful to God for using that trip to wake me back up to my true nature. Until next time…