In October 2011, I flew to Brisbane city, Australia, to be in a town called Maleny for an annual yoga retreat organized by Gerry Hillier, my business partner of The Owl Company which both of us co-founded two years ago. At the same time, I was also there to conduct a couple of workshops at her yoga center in a small town called Gympie.
Unplugging myself from my regular life and visiting a new environment at least once a year has become a healthy and nurturing treat I give myself since 2004 – the year after my son was born.Taking a time out from my life gives me a great opportunity to :
- Just be ME. There is no need to play the roles of a mother, wife, daughter, daughter-in-law, sister, teacher, employer etc. I am just me, myself. Many times, we get sucked into playing all the other roles in our life that we forget there is a Being residing in this body-mind. It’s such a joy and freedom to reconnect with my Being.
- Experience new things in life. In a new country, a new environment with its unique social conditions, a new set of people with different mental setup and culture, a different kind of food bring me excitement. It is a wonderful exploration to see how other people live their lives which not only enhances my awareness but also my understanding about people’s life, struggles and experiences.
- Meet the spiritual community. In every nook and corner in each country, there is always a spiritual community. I find that, because of the nature of my passion and work, I am naturally attracted to the spiritual community and activities wherever I go. I get a lot of inspirations from others; learn from their experiences and lessons in life. It makes me feel blessed and in awe with the strength of human spirit, extraordinary happenings and the compassion of Existence.
- Discover new insights about me. I find that self discovery is the greatest education one can have. Each time-out is never the same; it is like new doors are being opened within me. This trip I discovered how much I have grown and expanded in my creative expression – from a structured and rigid form to a more fluid, boundless work of art. I also discovered that I could actually write if I allow it to come from my Being! Since young, I always had this mental block about writing since English was not my strong subject. I also discovered that Mandala drawing, the ancient sacred art is such a wonderful tool for creative expression, thanks to Gerry for sharing this tool. This is something I will continue doing both in my classes with children and on my own inner work.
- Share my knowledge and experiences. In this trip, I met a few women who were grieving from loss of loved ones like spouse or parent. Interestingly, the topic of my workshops touched on the ephemeral nature of human body and an ancient technique to “unclutch” from pain and suffering gifted to me by my spiritual guru, which directly provided understanding to go beyond their emotion of loss. One lady who could not withhold her excitement told me that she would share the new understanding with her teenage daughter who was going through a challenging phase of life. When I saw the light in the eyes of some of the participants after the workshops, it brought fulfillment to me, knowing the knowledge and my experiences I shared gave them new clicks.
- Create a space for contemplation and rejuvenation. One of my students came with me on this trip. She runs her own real estate business, so she works practically 7 days a week. I was so delighted to witness how this trip had created a healing space for her in terms of contemplation and rejuvenation from her otherwise crazy life. She shared with me that she was glad that she made a decision to come for the retreat with me. In the yoga class after the retreat, I was pleasantly surprised that for the first time, she did not sleep in my class during the deep relaxation. The chronic fatigue in her was gone!
Despite all the benefits of a time-out, the reasons people give me include not able to take leave from work, money issue, inability to be away from family etc. I was surprised that three Australian women who came for the retreat were single parents with children yet they were able to drop everything and to do something for their body, mind & spirit. The key difference is that they were able to recognize a need for self love and self care; which is something many Singaporeans find it hard to give themselves the permission to heal, being in touch with themselves and explore other dimensions in life.
Until an individual realizes the concept of Self and learns to let go of the coverings by the social identities, he or she will continue to give excuses not to spend time with self for healing, transformation and expansion.