Today's post is another chapter from my work-in-progress memoir and concludes my experience while on a five-week retreat in 2010. This chapter picks up where June's post, “Ishta Iyotake”, left off.
Thank you for taking the time to read today!
The end of the week-long silent retreat coincided with the beginning of my last week at Omega and a visit from my daughter Kelcie and her roommate, Candice. They arrived from New York City on the Omega shuttle bus—Kelcie’s precious face beaming with delight. We hit the ground running, taking in all the campus activities—from tennis, basketball, and kayaking to facials, massages, and a trip to the sauna. We attended a two-hour psychic workshop in the library, had dinner in Rhinebeck, shopped in the bookstore, and played games in the cafe. It was a whirlwind weekend, and they had come for rest and relaxation.
A WELCOME DETOUR
After seeing the girls off, I headed to my dorm for a nap. Along the path, Peta Lynn, a participant of the silent retreat, invited me on a detour to the cafe for tea. We sat and she told me about her unique experiences around the world, living in ashrams. She had been uprooted for over ten years, was very open and friendly. And, for the second time since being at Omega, I shared with her the whole unadulterated story of the tangled web I had weaved and left behind four-plus weeks before. With only five days of retreat remaining, I was running out of time to find clarity concerning the remaining boyfriend.
I knew that I was going to end the relationship and had been struggling to find words, writing a half dozen “Dear John” letters. Peta Lynn suggested that I retrieve my latest draft and share it with her. She helped me see that I was complicating matters, trying to “caretake,” based on assumptions of what I thought would be easiest for my boyfriend to read. I needed to bring my focus inward, to what felt right inside for me, and say that to him. The truth was I wanted to be free and on my own for a while longer. I didn’t want to go home and live in the confined way that I had been living. A whole new world and way of being was unfolding for me, and I intended to explore it.
HONORING THE EXPERIENCE
My final workshop, led by Raphael Cushnir, author of The One Thing Holding You Back and Surfing Your Inner Sea, was made up of a small and intimate group or fourteen participants with two facilitators. It is Raphael’s belief that “the one thing holding us back” is repressed emotions. We established ourselves as a group and learned some tools for “surfing our inner seas,” being present and riding each wave of emotion—feeling it, watching it, and allowing it to pass through.
Within the group we all belonged to a smaller core group where we began to home in on what experience would most benefit each person. The goal was for individuals to present an unexpressed emotion from their life in order to release it. The presentation could be as creative or as simple as each individual wanted to make it.
In many cases people came to the workshop to express an unhealed trauma that had been taboo or difficult to talk about when it occurred. It was amazing to witness each participant’s unique expression—the vulnerability was beautiful. Instead of working with a repressed emotion, I choose to honor my time and process at Omega, to stand before the group, allow others to witness my “rising spirit,” and mark my experience and courage in history.
There were several elements in my presentation. I unveiled my new art pieces and shared my reason for coming to Omega as well as my belief that my experience had been divinely orchestrated—my growth was beyond my wildest expectations. In order to honor and acknowledge the return of my beloved nanny to my heart, we celebrated her life, and I read a letter that I had written to her as a testimony of my love for her and what she had meant to me.
The culminating piece was to share my experience of what I called “the rising spirit within me.” With each painful emotion that had surfaced, been expressed, felt, and honored, I seemed to be making space for my spirit to emerge and be experienced within me as joy. I had grown at Omega. I was beginning to find my voice, my center, my creativity and truth.
and aqua blue to my palette and continued painting poses as either solid shapes or linear outlines. A large distorted burnt-umber figure, in the negative space between the pink and orange forms, filled the canvas, and a vibrant blue figure emerged within. The brushstrokes around the dancing woman transform into confetti and streamers as she celebrates life, delighting in the freedom of her spirit and true nature.
When looking at the painting, I’m drawn to how solid the blue figure is and also how ethereal she looks from her shoulders up. She feels grounded like a tree, yet her head, arms, and hands have a reverent quality—full of unfettered joy and gratitude. She is representative of how I was feeling in those last days at Omega. I had a good foundation to continue expanding beyond the confined way that I had been living, to explore with spontaneity, and reinvent my life one step, one day, at a time.
Would you like to experience the freedom of your spirit and true nature? The reason we have trouble connecting with our natural state of joy is because over time we have covered it up with repressed thoughts and emotions. The things in life that we chose not to feel are like clouds that have formed and are blocking the sun. The Dalian Method is the quickest way that I know to part the clouds and reveal the light that is ever present within each of us. A private session or a full weekend retreat is a great way to get started.
Madeleine Newkirk, Artist, Spiritual Junkie, Dalian Method and Art Process Facilitator.