Weaning Off the Jade Sea
Bringing Connection Home from a Week in Paradise
Climbing to the top peak of a treacherous hike with friends you’ve been laughing with all along the way? The person you like telling you they feel a sense of comfort around you? The feeling of looking at your sweet younger sibling, niece or nephew, or your child sleeping? Letting go and swaying to the tunes that match the flow of your inner-self...?
Do you recognize it?
It’s that feeling of connection.
Yes, you feel it in the right place, the place you’re told you’re going to feel it – in your grounding heartbeat.
The thing is, though I really hope you do recognize it and have felt it for yourself, it can feel like an emotional overtaking that is too seldom or distant. Truthfully, more often than not, you feel like you’re “going through the motions,” like “everything is going by too quickly,” or that you “can’t wait for…”
You feel disconnected. Out of the moment. And certainly not overwhelmed by the amount of love that surrounds you at every waking moment (wouldn’t that be nice?).
Last year, through a battle of insecurities and crazy inner-dialogues, I choose to go on a three-month solo-backpacking trip through Nicaragua, Guatemala, and Mexico to truly throw myself into survival mode. I had to connect or quite possibly would spend three months insecure and alone.
On the second week of my trip, I attended my first yoga retreat in Nicaragua. I wasn’t a “total yogi” but I enjoyed the practice and had the physical capacity. It was at the beginning of my backpacking trip and truthfully, I was nervous the whole time, not sure how to look like, sound like, and feel like a yogi. I learned a little and went on my way
After two and a half more months of solo-travel and a year of grounding not only in my practice but also in myself, I had to go back and try again. This year I went to a retreat centre in Chacala, Mexico, called Mar de Jade – meaning “Jade Sea.” I was ready to show a raw version of myself and connect with raw versions of others.
We spend seven days together practicing during sunrise and sunset with two incredible teachers, Kate Gillespie, and Matt Phippen. In the morning we were quiet, moving through a Vinyasa practice and connecting with ourselves. By the time it was breakfast, we conversed energetically and couldn't help ourselves from spending most of the day together reading and swimming in the glistening Jade Sea.
In the afternoon we gathered for an Iyengar and Katonah-style practice, working with multiple props, chairs, a rope wall, and most importantly, each other.
This is when the real magic happened.
Talk about a recipe for connection - we talked each other through turning upside down without falling head over ass, we dug our feet into each other’s hip creases to get the perfect stretch and even had the chance to massage each other to let ourselves relax into folds.
We closed each vibrant practice with a soothing Shavasana and would blink ourselves out of it in time to thank our teachers, change, and dash into the ocean to roll with the waves as we watched the orange sunset melt between the sky and sea. We must have tasted like a creamsicle, the way we looked and certainly the way I felt.
Two practices, three meals, and many moments in between, each day we connected.
Somehow (it felt like it could last forever), the glorious week came to a close. So then what? As things tend to go, we all have to find our place in “reality.” I spent many days asking myself why reality had to be so… disconnected. But it didn’t. It doesn’t. It may be something of a “norm,” but it doesn’t mean it’s the way it has to be. A better question popped into my head, what fueled my heartbeat there that can be brought with me anywhere?
To fuel connection on this trip, I had a few things. I first and foremost, needed to let go of the blocks of judgment of myself and others. You might have an idea of which ones you struggle with as I did after my first yoga retreat in Nicaragua.
The next thing was setting intentions every day. On the retreat, it was easy to set intentions to practice, connect, and relax. At home, it seems like there’s so much more to do, but with a clear head, setting intentions for the day can gain the same effect - practice in the morning, work, call my mom after work to connect, and crawl into bed (no Netflix) with an hour to relax into a book. One day you may set the intention to do laundry and have a shower to look after your hygiene or to walk your dog in a nearby park, breathing in fresh air to connect with your fuzz-butt (pet) and with nature. I have found it works well to pair setting intentions to get chores done with the way you’ll feel after, so they appear less like work.
The last ingredient is taking the time to feel. I felt so fully while I was on this trip, but again, I made time for it. Be the curator of your day and decide what fills your time, mind, and body. Take the time for this reflective practice to sit silently, to talk with your friends, or my personal favourite, to write in your journal. And my goodness, the more you practice this the more you’ll be able to slow down and even create time. As you reflect, it’s like you use a filter to see the things that make you feel disconnected and sieve them out, releasing them from your mind. You create space to pinpoint what lights you up, discovering what fuels you, and you allow yourself to hold those moments of connection high and mighty.
So the yoga retreat really wasn’t about physical yoga postures, though I learned a ton. It wasn’t about a vacation, though Mexico in January is an extremely welcomed break. It was about being exposed to a mindset that is so open and vibrant that I couldn’t imagine weaning myself off it. I want to be engulfed in it no matter what. It was about feeding that buzzing, beating, grounding heart that I sometimes feel so disconnected from. It was about breathing with, talking to, and touching other sweet beings around me - beings that exist everywhere I go but can choose to ignore.
My heart is still sitting fully to the brim now, as I instill my practice of connection within everything I do.
I’m ready to share more with each person I cross paths with and hopefully, that can start with sharing a piece of my hope (my knowing) that we all can exist in a state of connection every day.