Sometimes circumstances come together in such a way that it makes it impossible for you to doubt any of the steps you've taken to get to the point upon which you're standing in that exact moment. That's how I felt a couple weeks ago when I drove up into the mountains of Malibu for an Earth Day yoga weekend with my friend/teacher/mentor/inspirational goddess, La Mer.
I met Meredith three years ago in Austin through a web of mutual friends and wild women who were drawn to yoga and healing. My friend Beth had asked if I would like to come to a ladies' day of yoga, meditation, and honoring the divine feminine. I was practicing physical yoga regularly; I hadn't gotten into teaching or much of the spiritual side yet, but, yes, of course I would like to participate in a day of ritual practice with flowy women like me. We went to Lauren's house, which was still under construction at the time, but already filling up with cozy magic (and bulldogs). We spent the day moving mindfully, exploring our inner selves, and listening to the rhythm of the rain on the roof. It was one of my first experiences with any type of yoga retreat, sound baths, energy healing, and bringing women together to talk about our femininity in a spiritually attuned way.
Mer came back to Austin seasonally over the next few years. I got a taste of Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter practices and rituals to follow the cycle of a year. I experienced different cycles within myself, too. On that first rainy afternoon in the attic, I asked for guidance growing up. I wanted to step into my role as a woman, but still maintain the childish playfulness that feels like a big part of who I am. In the following sessions, I alternated between feeling enchanted, collapsing into tears about loss and uncertainty, and slowly gaining the confidence to share my voice. I became a teacher and began attempting (I'm still attempting...) to create the safe, open spaces for growth that Mer and all my teachers have provided for me.
In April, Lauren sent out her usual invite that Mer would be coming back to Austin for a Spring women's workshop. I replied that I was disappointed to miss this round, but I knew that Mer lived in LA so I could find her at one of her weekly classes. To my delight, Mer wrote back to me that she would be offering her first retreat in nearby Malibu later that month. I immediately signed up.
The weekend started with a crawl up into the mountains of Malibu-- I hadn't even known you could go up there!-- to a hillside chateau with the most gorgeous view. I tried not to think of leaving on Sunday and imagined that it would be my home for now and forever. That night, we claimed the space and set our intentions for the weekend. We drew from a deck of goddess cards. I was lead to choose the Mother of Seas, a symbol that offered to help me trust my innate knowledge and claim my role as a healer. I was surprised that Mer remembered my request from our session years ago. I had knelt in the attic in Texas asking to grow up while staying in touch with my inner child, and now in California, in full view of the sea, I drew the mother, a nurturing guide with the wisdom to protect and to teach.
We spent the rest of the weekend exploring deeper meditation practices and bowing in reverence to our Mother Earth. The six of us formed an intimate group. We were all different-- single ladies charting their paths, mothers reclaiming their bodies, divorcees finding their way back to themselves-- and we were all the same-- lovers of the planet we inhabit and women on a mission to hear our voices ring pure in the world. I had something to learn from all these ladies and the experiences they brought to our altar. I was especially grateful to meet an assortment of ages; most of us were in our 20's-30's, but one older yogini shared the irreplaceable wisdom and humor of her years.
We hiked around the property, sang and danced harmoniously (debatable) with hand-painted squash shakers, and capped off each evening with a restful meditation to the sounds of crystal bowls. Our weekend culminated on Sunday when we kayaked out to sea. I'd never been ocean kayaking before, and I am pretty remedial with still-water kayaking, so getting the boat out past the break proved challenging for me. We toppled over a few times and scratched up our legs a bit, but eventually I was able to push our boat onto a more stable surface and flounder aboard. It was such a relief to glide gracefully over the the waves. I worried about making it back to shore, but, when the time was right, the sea guided us gently back in.
What a weekend. I am learning to trust the flow within me and all around me. I know that with all these strong women to guide and support me, I'll always end up in the right place.