Farm Retreat Reflections

“I don’t have to chase extraordinary moments to find happiness. It’s right in front of me if I’m paying attention and practicing gratitude.”

Brené Brown 

Thunder and rain pounding on the barn roof above was so loud, I gave up trying to be heard. Instead, I made my way to each participant and silently showed them alternative postures and variations with gestures and smiles of encouragement. I urged them each to do what their own body felt was helpful after the long drive to the Western Catskills. We listened in awe to nature in her full force. 

The rain let up just in time for dinner. We were a little giddy, and famished! Delicious, hearty plant based stir fry overflowed our bowls, and we enjoyed the flavors of the farm as we got to know each other.

During our opening ceremony, the guinea fowl gaggled just outside the barn. 

As we slept, the dairy cow left her paddock for a visit to the farmers’ window. I think everyone heard her mooing but me. Epic darkness without electricity in the tents. Rain on the canvas roofs, leaves rustling, creek babbling, dogs protecting the herds, I slept through it all. 

Our morning practice saw the sun come over the trees, lifting the fog from the rolling hills and drying the dew slowly. I shared my daily ritual of chanting the Gayatri mantra, honoring the generous energy of the sun as enlightener or vivifier. The high elevation and deliciously clean air filled our lungs during sun salutes, breath of joy and pranayama (breathing patterns) on the outdoor pavilion. A curious chicken checked on us during savasana. 

The retreat was full of such moments, and many more. The barn cat got cozy and the sheep bleated at the most hilarious moments of silent meditation. I could never have envisioned such a perfectly imperfect experience. If you can be present during the loudest thunderstorm, or the well-timed moo, you can translate that ability to your daily life, anywhere.

“If we surrendered to Earth’s intelligence 

we could rise up rooted, like trees.”

-Rilke

We also explored our internal wilderness during this retreat. I love combining meditations with journal prompts, to allow dialogue with your highest self. Many found these moments on retreat to be the most helpful and surprising. It’s a reminder that you really are your own best teacher. Here’s a journaling activity you can try at home, adapted from part of our opening ceremony. This is meant to address the inherent negativity bias our brains naturally default to. I would encourage a few minutes of meditation first. 

WRITE: 5 POSITIVE QUALITIES you embody.

WRITE: 5 things you are GRATEFUL for. 

Pause. Take in your environment and all that’s available to your senses. Invite yourself to be present. Take 3 deep breaths as you rest into present moment awareness. 

WRITE yourself a question. 

CHANGE HANDS. Yes, use your other hand. Answer your question. With your non dominant hand. Do this without thinking so much. 

Were you surprised by the answer? No need to share, but if you want, I’d love to hear from you: Kate@healthyhappyyoga.com

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Susanne shares her bolster and a snuggle with Moustache during Restorative Yoga.

Susanne shares her bolster and a snuggle with Moustache during Restorative Yoga.