Last weekend, I took a two hour drive into the mountains to attend a healing breathwork retreat in the Gold Coast Hinterland. I had no idea what I was getting myself into, other than the time away representing some time for self-care and some serious cup-filling, after a pretty big last couple of years since becoming a Mumma.
Admittedly, this was my first time away from my little boy, so I was both nervous, excited and feeling a teensy bit guilty about having a whole weekend to myself, child and husband free. But, I was open to what might come.
I left scorching Brisbane weather to arrive in cool, drizzly conditions - I LOVE rainy days - and spent a little time scouting the natural surroundings between retreat sessions.
Besides the beautiful surroundings, the retreat used breathing, music, group-work, creativity and amazing vegetarian food as a way to connect with ourselves and move past old ways into new ways of being. I've always used my Art as a tool for self-inquiry and expression, but incorporating breathwork and other modalities took my experience to a whole new level.
In short, it was raw, empowering, shattering, scary, beautiful and a completely courageous journey to go on. Knowing you're about to face your deepest skeletons-in-the-closet and breathe through them, instead of stuffing them away, was so effing terrifying, I barely slept the night before my session. I laid awake, conjuring up all the tender parts of myself that might make me come undone in front of other people. I desperately wanted to know I would be okay in it all. I was scared.
After laying awake for a while, my imagination running wild, I found myself tiring of my own, worrisome nature. I'm not sure when I learned that thinking the worst-case-scenario might help protect me in life, but I was ready to let that go. I even found myself praying to a big green, healing angel to come and help me relax into my fate.
When I got up to go to the loo in the middle of the night, I found a beautiful (GIANT) green-winged moth beside my front door. I took it as a good omen, and relaxed into a slumber, only to find him waiting by my door the next morning. Thanks to Mr Giant Green Mothy-Angel, I knew I would be safe and protected when it came my turn to breathe and get present with me.
As it turns out, my session was amazing. Confronting, yes. Grief-filled at times, absolutely. Did I cry in front of a stranger? Yes - I sobbed, actually. And was it worth it? Completely.
Above is the Artwork I created afterwards, in an effort to capture some of the moments I experienced. There were moments of birth and rebirth. Moments of tribal and family connection. Moments of deep, immense grief and uncharacteristic smile-filled tears. Most of all, I met myself, completely uncensored.
The gravity of this retreat has left me feeling utterly vulnerable and raw, yet excited about how I might go about living my life, without some of the deeply ingrained stories I'd told myself over the years.
It's my 34th birthday next week and I feel like I'm finally embracing who I really am, vulnerabilities and all. I'm catching glimpses of the beautiful parts inside me I'd always thought needed to be hidden away to make me more lovable. This weekend has taught me to open my curtains and bathe in my own, warm glow, because I've pulled the drapes over my heart for too long, in fear of hurting others and myself.