Lets start with the picture that enticed you here…
“Goddess Ceremony” they said.
“Wear a dress” they said.
So there I was climbing up the mountain like a white witch on bare feet and with plats in my hair.
I entered the yoga dome in silence and sat in the circle on a sheepskin and a cushion like the night before.
There were candles and herbs and beautiful handmade bowls this time.
‘Tea ceremony’ I thought.
‘Yoni steaming’ they said.
‘What the F’ I exclaimed in silence. They clearly had a very different ‘goddess’ in mind than me.
We were about to select our herbs, swing off our pants and steam our yonis. (That’s vaginas incase you wondered!)
And as if this was not enough, we were meant to do this in silence. How?
I can tell you its hard not to laugh if the first person builds a seat from yoga blocks and promptly tumbles off them like Humpty Dumpty. Legs akimbo. Thank God for long dresses…
Or when you yourself try and manoeuvre this steaming bowl of herbs under your yoni gracefully and without any burning accidents! Then sit still for 20 minutes while your mind, or at least my mind, kept wondering ‘why, why, why?’
I think I will have to read up on this one to be a convert.
Hasten to add though that the ceremony was beautiful and meaningful and I do kind of get it but I don’t see myself whip out a yoni bowl in my household any time soon.
yoga dome, views and silently resting
Anyways, let’s go back to the beginning.
A silent retreat celebrating the elements: Earth, Wind, Water and Fire.
Four days without words.
Four days without phones. No email. No WhatsApp. No Instagram.
There was no coffee, just green tea and water.
No alcohol obviously.
No snacks. 3 meals a day and dinner always a soup after a more elaborate lunch.
Vegan. So no meat, no fish, no dairy. Also no gluten. No sugar. No onions and no garlic.
That is a whole lot of no’s to get used to while otherwise very much saying YES! To life.
I was lucky to be in one of three rooms, the girls in the tent also had no toilet. Just a compost one for poos. Wees? in the field!
This actually turned out to be great fun.
If you needed to wee during yoga you just walked out and around a corner, pulled your trousers down and squatted. Quite liberating and saved you from walking that hill up and down if you were somewhere half way lazing in a hammock.
simple room, my crystals & more lazing
There was a lot of lazing in hammocks. The first two days I DID things, like plunge in the pool, do some extra yoga, make a crystal altar with incense on a rock… (Why not?)
But then I realised this was just a distraction of the silence.
So somewhere halfway through day two I stopped, climbed into a hammock and relaxed. Let things be. Thoughts flow.
It is amazing how time flies when you do nothing. I would go between two states of being: I'd be swinging in a chair thinking and then zonk out. I would wake up and be right awake again, like I never slept. The mind would start doing its thing again until I dozed off some more.
I had no big revelations. No lightbulb moments. Though on day four, a doubt I had been having kept coming back to me. It threw me. I pulled some cards that confused me even more. I journaled about it. I sat with it. And eventually I found peace about it. Just in time. Just before the ceremony to break the silence: sweat lodge for an hour with cold pool dips, followed by a steam ‘bath’ where you got washed with herbs. It was one of the most loving things I have experienced in a long time. Starkers naked on a chair in a field and not a care in the world. Two people pouring warm water over you and scrubbing softly with herbs.
Once you were washed, you walked to a little place of your choice and broke your silence.
(And yes we did get dressed to do so incase you wonder)
a lot of (very dirty) bare feet walking, the amazing fairytale forest, and cold morning meditation
card reading. breaking the silence, group sharing
We then met in a circle and we whooped and laughed and shared and cried. It was AMAZING.
I actually spoke to a rock breaking my silence. Pachamamaaaaaaa.
This was the beauty of the retreat: there was no judgement. Nobody wore make-up. I certainly did not do my hair. I looked like a wild woman half the time with filthy feet from the sandy path up and down.
Some of us wore no bras and others wore only a bra. We walked around wrapped in blankets. With thick socks in slippers. Midriffs showing.
We slept everywhere. We did little rituals. And nobody raised an eye lid at anything.
We slowly got to know eachother without using words.
There was a real sense of belonging without speaking.
So that when we did speak, we hugged like long lost friends, as all the way throughout the days we had been carrying each other in silence. It was beautiful.
It is incredible to be so still. Though your mind may race a lot.
It is just the best to not have your phone or any other electronics to check or waste time on.
So much time to do other things!
And then the food! Oh the food. It was so utterly delicious. 3 meals a day. No snacks. A light breakfast, a big lunch and soup for dinner.
All of it plant based, local, seasonal and full of taste. I felt so healthy and I didn’t even miss coffee, chocolate or wine once.
After dinner there was another meditation… or as you now know: ‘Goddess’ ceremony aka Yoni steaming and then we went to bed. Zzzzzz. Lights out at 9 on day one and 10.30 at the latest.
I can highly recommend it as it made me feel at home. I felt so like myself. At home in the place, the land and in myself. Such a good feeling to just be relaxed and happy. When your body is relaxed too and you can just be. No input, no demands, no expectations.
I need a few days now to acclimatise. To figure out what I want to take from there and inject into London life and how.
One thing I realised that makes me happy are RITUALS. It can be anything. The ritual of making a coffee or having a bath. Something that you do occasionally or something that becomes a routine. Im going to make lots of space for these as they bring me peace. Im also going to add them to studio life so come and experience them for yourself and see how they make you feel.
My proudest moment: ecstatic dance. Something I always feared and that then came so naturally.
Listen to the music. Don’t think. Just hear the music; In your head, your body, your bones, your blood, your HEART and then start moving. To the beat, against the beat, anyway you want. Jump, punch, sway, crawl, roll, twirl or stand still with only your hands moving in the space.
This was so liberating and powerful I cried.
Fear well and truly overcome.
Lastly to give you a good idea of the day:
Day one: we worked with the Earth element. Day two: Wind, day three: Water, day four; Fire!
7-8 meditation in dome on top of the mountain
(I loved to linger afterwards to pull some cards or journal)
8-9 breakfast (anywhere)
9.30-11.30 Yoga and Somatic Movement with Sound (think global instruments)
13.00 Lunch at the table (in silence)
13.45 wash up and free time
18.30-19.30 Soup Dinner (anywhere you wanted to sit)
20.00 Mediation on top of the mountain
21.00 Bed time (or journalling under the stars with a cup of tea)
Hope to see you soon. Our doors open 5th September. Check out the New Class schedule.