I got back on my yoga mat yesterday for the first time in ages. Moving around without expectation, extending and contracting the parts that requested it, felt like love.
The yoga I have practiced for years felt like performance. Another way to drive myself and fail. As such, for the last year or two, every time I chose to practice, my mind attached itself to my decaying pedicure and how limber I used to be.
Judgement has kept me off my mat.
Two days ago, when I got back on, I practiced more slowly and simply than I have in years. Not cheating the fourth and fifth breaths, actually breathing all the way through them. Waiting. Listening for whatever pose my body asked for next. Today, I spent nearly 30 minutes in seated poses. I can't remember the last time I did that and when I finished all I could think was:
Wow that felt good. I think I'll rinse & repeat tomorrow.
I've also recently fallen in love with the meditation work of Shirzad Chamine. Meditation is another failure/judgement loop for me because I get frustrated when I can't control my mind chatter. Does this sound familiar? That's exactly like saying I can't do yoga because I'm stiff.
As Chamine says, of course you feel that way, controlling your mind is hard because the main task of your left brain is keeping you alive. It's not inclined to take a break - you have to invite it to do so, often over and over again. Nothing to feel badly about.
When you do get clear and your left brain finally goes quiet, your shy right brain can surface, bringing with it a calm delight, awe and ideas you didn't know you had. It feels like a big silvery rainbow trout rising up from the cold, rocky river bottom to hit your perfectly cast fly.
This is why a week on the river, in the high mountain backcountry makes you feel like a new person. Your left brain has less to manage there, maybe just keeping you safe from bears and drowning.
I say all this because the first ever Intermissionary Retreat begins in Chamonix, France ten days from now. Follow the fun on Instagram.
We are creating a space where those deep river, right-brain moments can occur; where the survival mind can chill, allowing the big fish to rise and hit our lines. Shocking the filament all the way to our hands. I need this in my life. I need mountains and rivers to help me be quiet because, in my experience, God simply won't compete with my noisy life. The problem is: I'm not always in the mountains, and that's why I'm getting serious about yoga and meditation.
I can go to the river any time I want.
Now, I know some of you get nervous about yoga and meditation, and I get that, but remember the Jews were meditating on the word of the Lord thousands of years ago. Meditation is a reliable vehicle, where you drive it is up to you. For me, yoga does the same thing, and both practices are helping free me from my natural bent toward judgement and criticism.
Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.
Sitting quietly on my mat this morning, just waiting, Intermissionary's three core values rose up from the cold, rocky river bottom and hit my line:
Intermissionary Chamonix is
Freedom. Restoration & The Love of God.
As the retreats grow and change, as we reach more people who need to take a week out and consider who they are and what they're doing here, those values might change, but my guess is, not by much.
The next Intermissionary Retreat is September 16-23rd outside Denver, Colorado. It is a debriefing retreat for global servants returning "home" from their mission field. Early Bird prices apply until June 15th. For more information click here.