We celebrated our first proverbial pajama party at The Higher Haven this weekend. Footies aside, this was our initial shot at a Real Overnight Retreat utilizing the 19th century Farmhouse on the property, a key aspect to the vision of this place from the start. The equation to make all this work required three elements – 1. a place to live + 2. a place to teach + 3. a place for practitioners to rest and rejuvenate. While my house proved solid from day one on the land and the studio has been in place for almost two years, the third structure required an awful lot of TLC coupled with many a sledgehammer swing. Without the house, I liken trying to prop this rickety circus up the last few summers to establishing a two-legged tripod, which left me similarly feeling like one of those collapsing push button toys, God's thumb pressing me from one contorted shape into another.
All that changed on Saturday's sunny morning. The dark, thundering little cloud above my head that sputtered bolts of lightning every time I even gave thought to the Farmhouse dissipated upon the blessed arrival of The Higher Haven's first overnight campers. Lead by Bridget Erin Sheahan of Brighton Yoga Center, Alix, Allison, Brenna, Ryan and Guy all seemed to find the property - and importantly the second house- enchanting. The fact that the weather was impeccable didn't hurt after a brutally cold Spring, as it slowly warmed into the best day of the year. But it's Bridget's sunny, beaming face that's now lodged in my mind's eye, as she looked around and happily gushed statements like, "I think we just found a new retreat center," and , "you're going to do very, very well here."
Having people here for a short extended stay already feels immensely more relaxing then those back-breaking One Days. Saturday flowed like The Black River, the notion that simply being in this area and close to some of Lake Michigan's most pristine shoreline would be a healer for people proving true. I could go on and on but can sum up a long, boring drama-filled story by saying that the first guy to believe in this place (me) was also going to be the last guy to believe in this place (my shadowy self doubt). And now that the mind's constant questioning has been quieted with a few satisfying answers, we, (meaning me I guess) can finally move on - from resistance,from laziness, from victimhood, from regrets of the past, from fears of the future, what have you - from all the shit that's held me down. And in unleashing my Shine, I'm feeling an amped up ability to assist others to do the same.
Brighton Yoga Center's web site cites the quote from Patanjali's Yoga Sutras, "Practice for a long time with devotion and enthusiasm." And that we did. Bridget's student Allison lead her first class, a significant accomplishment. And Bridget lead a great and what I personally felt was a very challenging Ashtanga class Sunday morning. Her and her companion Guy also literally camped back in the woods, another nice first. We took part in Ceremony, we asked for healing, we celebrated life and we nourished ourselves with grinds orchestrated by the Oven mittens of one of The Southwest Mitten's brightest culinary lights, our friend Chris Ferris. After breakfast every one headed out, with talk of an August return. If you're thinking of taking part in an overnight retreat, perhaps you could join us then. Or jump in with another group the weekend of June 23rd-24th. Right now, on the subject of overnights, I need to happily get some sleep, as I look forward to communicating with you further and seeing you soon.