04 Apr Inviting Stillness
By Leah Hurley (Leah is a long-time student who offers a a window into a meditation, breathwork and yoga retreat at Rolling Meadows)
Earlier this winter I had the pleasure of attending a winter solstice retreat hosted by Surya and Patricia, and writing about their work for Down East Magazine. This year they celebrate their 35th year of offering retreats, and I’ve been fortunate to attend periodically since they began. It’s an experience I have come to cherish, and am grateful to feel myself drawn back to time and time again.
While the article for Down East Magazine focuses more on the logistical nuts and bolts of the retreat experience and history of Rolling Meadow, it’s what happens on the inside that keeps pulling me back. With over 65 years of combined teaching experience and deep, ever-evolving spiritual practices of their own, Patricia and Surya’s teachings weave together practices of mindful meditation, breathwork, classical yoga asana, pranayama, restorative and yin yoga, and the process of self-inquiry. They make the essence of these rich practices accessible to students in a non-dogmatic, self-directed approach that to me, feels empowering and freeing.
The act of creating space to sit still with myself can be anxiety-inducing but is at its core deliciously sweet. It gets me out of the constant hamster wheel of thought and into the deep peace of awareness grounded in my body: noticing the stillness of the woods in winter, the rise and fall of my chest as I breathe, the crunch of snow under my shoes, the sweetness of roasted apples on our morning oatmeal. As the weekend goes on the worries and thoughts of everyday life fade and there is just the lightness of ease; a felt knowledge that everything I am seeking is right there within me if only I can remember to pause and look.
There is an incredible power in allowing that stillness and time as a community to connect with our bodies without the mind as a filter – both in allowing pains and hurts from the past to move through and out of us, but also in deepening our sense of connection to the love and deep belonging that is available to us at any time. We are practicing the art of feeling complete, and connecting with, as Surya says, “the Guru within” to guide us through all life brings our way. We’re learning to see and appreciate the world around us with a newly focused and connected sense of eyes, and despite the lack of conversation, come together as one community in search of a return to the simple joys of being alive and human. And then, as quickly as we came together we depart, heading back to our individual lives. But we are somehow changed, the invisible thread of connection between us and to ourselves enriched and strong. Ready to be cultivated and tended to in our daily lives and practice.
Leah’s wrote about her experience in Down East Magazine’s Winter Wellness Issue here.
Since 2009 Leah has been helping clients build processes and systems that integrate communications thinking into the fabric of their business. Her website is here.