I’ve just returned from three weeks in paradise; a day traveling on each end, but three full weeks of doing and being nothing but everything. Perhaps I’ve never allowed myself quite as long, as deep, or as painful but healing a process. This vacation has pushed me to vacate old spaces by taking time out to find out who I am and where I fit in time and space.
The reality that this was a different vacation hit when I noticed which small things were missing for me: I forgot to bring paper! As I’d brought along a few items, I tore up the paper wrappings in the boxes to make writing paper, and happily worked on morning pages until I ran out of my one pen! And it took two days to replace it! No pen, no paper, no work is happening here. I also forgot camera battery charger and cords to plug camera into computer. No photos or blogs this trip.
In other words, from the very beginning, this trip shouted to me that I was supposed to be moving slowly, not creating goals and projects, but simply to slow down, stretch with awareness, and BE. That’s been a challenge, but a very rewarding one, and I think I’ve risen to it.
So, the ‘work’ of this trip: Movement, stretching, breath awareness, and allowing the sensations that come from the movement and stretching. I’ve been amazed at how many deep line places are still holding, and in fact, believe I’ve reached new areas which have been traumatized for years, and are beginning to think about change. Each day consisted of coffee in the morning with morning pages; then preparation and a four mile walk up a glorious beach to the section where very few people bother to stop—an amazing fact, given how much prettier my stretch of beach is compared to most, and how much less crowded. I see so many people looking for their ‘spot’; I just find one and sit in it, and I’m satisfied.
Why don’t more people stop and take that free time to find out who they are? As I said, I walk my four miles, find the same tree, unpack my things, and sit in the shade of that tree for five or six hours. I move into the sun and the water for stretching and exercises, and while I’m sitting in the shade mostly I stretch. I also watch people to see two interesting things. First, everybody is going somewhere, mostly fast. They seem to be looking for their little perfect stretch of beach. Well there isn’t one left! Therefore, whatever you find that’s close to perfect is perfect enough. Yet most people never stop, just walking by with set faces, achieving the length of beach and never enjoying the scenery! Crazy.
Second, oh my, such bodies we’ve created! I’d have to say at least half the people on the beach are overweight. I’ve enjoyed noticing that several overweight women and men are quite attractive even with their extra weight, and some carry it very comfortably. But most, many of us, drag 50 pound bellies in front of us. Again, the Ida Rolf injunction to carry head up and waist back makes so much sense. What causes each of us to have such a short low back, and therefore a dumped out belly? I’m agreeing with Stephen Porges, author of The Polyvagal Theory, when he says, “The pivotal point is, can we get people to feel safe?” I think this is truly what we’re trying to achieve. So, here’s me, sitting on the beach, stretching, moving, breathing, dancing, and watching so many unhappy, unlived in bodies!
And don’t get me started on the way many people don’t seem to want to allow their feet to touch the ground. It’s interesting to watch a person walking the length of a long beach and realizing that they don’t like letting their feet touch the ground! I think we’re back on safety, again.
More and more my attention focuses on the creation of safety. I realize for me, Jamaica has a factor of uncertainty….one doesn’t truly know the nature of some of the people one connects with during a day. The ability to feel safe and able to take care of self has been invaluable! I love being in my room at night; perhaps the door open to my balcony so I can see/hear the night unfolding. Mainly I feel I’ve been out challenging the day; then come in at night to a locked up sanctuary where I hear a wilder world, but I’m secure in my space. More stretching, more writing, more reflection, and less achievement!
Probably the biggest learnings of the trip for me have been rememberings instead of learnings: for example, remembering to stretch self to an interesting block, then to take three deep and intentional breaths into that block. It’s amazing what I believe has dissolved with this simple procedure.
Second, add stretch up and down the line. I was primarily interested in loosening the tissues around my fused spine from T10—L3. I found I truly did create more movement there, especially when I related what was happening in low back to toes/ankles/hips/neck and shoulders. The longer the line I pretended I was able to chase and stretch, the more effectively I believe I stretched everything. Satisfying.
Third, again, out of achievement mode and into exploration. I found that going to a more deserted part of beach, allowing myself to be vulnerable in the sunshine, finding my hidden pains, and exposing them to the light of day, has given me a far smoother machine than the one I brought.
Well, thoughtsthoughtsthoughts keep coming, but the gist of this trip has been: Go inside. Go deeper inside. Stay there. Look around. Change something. What a joyful journey it’s been for me.