After years of fantasizing, I finally experienced a yoga retreat this weekend. My visit to Shoshoni was way overdue. Me needed some serious bendy time.
I hadn't realize that Shoshoni is a working ashram, a Hindu hangout where "sages live in peace and tranquility amidst nature." Basically, ancient wisdoms, buncha trees and a whole lotta incense.
I checked in with a young man named Oliver and informed him that my garden had produced frightfully large vegetables - could I donate to the kitchen? He recommended I give it to one of the deities first and then they'd take it; I was suspicious. I'd have to get to know them first, I said, I don't give my prize veggies to just any old deity that comes along. Oliver seemed perplexed as I clung protectively to my monster zuke. A girl's got to have standards when it comes to her soul and her garden - seems everyone wants a piece these days.
I picked out a soft camping spot on the edge of the property and settled in. I always feel so damn autonomous when I get my little blue tent popped up and dump out all the dead bugs from the last excursion. I'd arrived just in time for the 7 p.m. dinner (all meals vegetarian, natch), followed by a session on aromatherapy. Stuffed with tofu, we sat around in a circle, passing tiny bottles filled with magical scents.
With the smell of peppermint clinging to one nostril and cedar essence to the other, I headed to my tent in total darkness - I stupidly left my headlamp in the gol'dern truck. And then, very helpful and completely deadly flashes with lightening showed me the way. Headlamp? We don't need no stinkin' headlamps! (I do have a real fear I'm going to be struck and the last thing I'll hear will be "ZOT!" Could be a pretty cool death, as deaths go.)
It rained all night - I just love that sound. I couldn't help but think about the women I'd met at dinner who brought along her rain-sound machine that she needed for slumber. Did she still use it if it was actually raining? (She told me later that the machine and the real rain on the tin roof were competing all night long. FREAK.)
At some point, I realized that there would be chanting, lots of it, starting early at Dawn's butt crack, 5:30 a.m. Amazingly, I managed to become conscious enough to don a skirt (required for temple) and experience the Guru Gita chanting. It went on and on and on and on. I listened, I dozed, I may have even cried. It's exhausting but the vibration of it kinda grew on me.
Swamis were everywhere. They are easily spotted because they dress entirely in orange - the international Swami color, evidently. When one Swami led a yoga class, he wore shiny orange shorts. Yo, Swami gangsta!
This much I've learned: I suck at meditation. My brain is too full of trivia, too concerned with meaningless minutiae and concerns/regrets about the future/past. When I was supposed to be empty-brained, instead I wondered, "Has William Shatner seen 'Galaxy Quest?' If so, does he find it particularly hilarious? I'd love to watch it with him ... "
And when I was supposed to be focusing on my existence in the world, my role as a giver of love and instigator of peace, I may have been contemplating the state of Michael Richards career: Does he sit home watching old 'Seinfeld' episodes, munching on medication, waiting for the public to forget? Or maybe, "Can we create a national campaign to have Brittany neutered? Would that be too weird? I mean, they're always saying, 'Think of the children' so ... "
Such are the weighty thoughts that occupy my mind.
As always, I met a ton of fabulous, funny, strong women and have to come to grips to the fact that I am a magnet for them but not so much for the men-folk. (Although I did receive a mysterious phone call on the way up the mountain. Some fellow I had given my number to ... NINE MONTHS AGO. Says he'd lost the card and then just found it when his suit came back from the cleaners. "When can I see you?" he said with some urgency, "When is the soonest we can get together?" I felt compelled to point out that since there was a nine-month lapse in our communication that he had no right to be impatient and to just settle down. Humph. We shall see.)
In addition to sneaking in some very freeing guitar picking, I went on some gorgeous hikes, my favorite being the brief but intense 'Meditation Path.' Call me crazy, but I felt something there. It could have been an ant on my ankle but it felt bigger. I sat on a rock overlooking the pine-covered valley and wrote for hours. The gist of my scribblings have something to do with focusing the second half of my life (assuming I live to 82) to helping others who have not been as lucky as I. Then again, I'm pretty self-centered so we'll see how that goes.
But if there is one thing I learned overall, the most in-depth truth uncovered by the magical place called Shoshoni, it is this: Tofu makes me fart.