GET OUT OF YOUR COMFORT ZONE
An intention I had coming into this retreat was for us to ‘Get Out of Our Comfort Zones’, and boy did we accomplish that! Isn’t it amazing how the universe delivers your intentions? Sometimes, however, it doesn’t always happen as we expect. I wanted to take a moment to share a few stories about how we got out of our comfort zones in Belize in hopes to inspire you to step into your fears and out of your daily routine.
We witnessed so many people step into fear and the wild unknown while in Belize. One of which was a nighttime hike we took in the Bocawina rainforest. Night one, after everyone arrived and got settled into their accommodations, we enjoyed a happy hour meet & greet followed by dinner and an intentional opening circle and meditation. Following our circle we offered an optional guided nighttime hike. Some people had already stepped out of their comfort zones just by traveling out of the country and into unknown territory, but this nighttime hike challenged everyone to some extent. So many fears surfaced during this experience: darkness, bugs, snakes (aka giant boa constrictors), spiders, spider webs, swimming in dark water, silence, unusual sounds in the trees, howler monkeys in the distance, you name it.
As a group, we embraced the darkness, the unknown, together.
I directly witnessed people step into their fears and embrace the unknown.We went into the hike as a group, helped each other along the way, laughed, cried, and felt it all. I would say that was my first joy of getting to see people out of their comfort zones and experiencing something they would have never planned for themselves. It was exhilarating and beautiful all at the same time to see people step into the wild.
STEPPING INTO FEAR
There are so many parallels between our retreat in Belize and the challenges we are facing in the world during this coronavirus pandemic. On retreat we all stepped into the unknown, our fears, our discomforts in one way, shape, or form, and I truly believe this trip prepared many of us for the difficult times we are currently in. If anything, it provided us time with self and also nature. One woman even mentioned that she spends time during her meditation, to remember what it felt like in her tent and how calm and joyful she felt in that moment. For it is in remembering a simple feeling that can bring forth comfort today. Please enjoy this memory from our recent retreat in hopes to bring a feeling to you…
It was the morning of February 26 and we were up bright and early in the Bocawina Rainforest. There was an optional walk about on the grounds and we overslept (jet lag was still fresh). Jonah and I woke up only because a bird came right to our window and woke us up, screaming – chirp chirp! We jumped out of bed and started the day.
Our group enjoyed breakfast together and we packed up to leave for the dock in Dangriga to head to Glover’s Reef Atoll. As we arrived at the dock, the manager Wasani was there to greet us. With some concern, she let me know that we were going to experience a storm on the island while we are there. My heart sank a bit and I asked if it was still safe for us to go. She said it would most definitely be safe, just not the greatest weather.
Our group proceeded to do a big trash cleanup around the dock and shore of Dangriga. I was slightly concerned about the upcoming weather but wanted to remain calm for the group. To be honest, I was nervous! Every other retreat we’ve hosted has had superior weather. Could we weather this storm as a group? This was my fear and worries coming into play. The unknown. The lack of control. We most definitely cannot control the weather, so it was out of our hands.
The boat ride was smooth, the water was clear, and the Belizean islands are stunning. We loved the gorgeous views on the way to the island. We were all so excited and some were nervous about going ‘off-grid’ without cell/wifi service. Upon arriving to Southwest Caye on Glover’s Reef, we were greeted by our guides and shown around our accommodations. It was a beautiful day. Not a cloud in the sky. The wind and waters were calm. We had a delicious lunch and proceeded to our safety checks for sea kayaking and snorkeling. This is where things got really magical: Amber prayed to see a spotted eagle ray and right at the dock one swam by along with a nurse shark and a barracuda! She jumped in immediately to snorkel with the creatures right away.
Our group then took to the sea to kayak snorkel around sunset and saw many fish and coral. It was stunning, especially with the magic hour time of day.We proceeded to have dinner and concluded our night with Amber guiding us through a yoga session on the dock. It was dark, the stars were shining so bright, and we were guided only by a bit of light from our lamps and Ambers voice. It was perfect. So calm and relaxing. After our class we sat as a group and stargazed and caught a few shooting stars. Jonah noticed something sparkling in the water and we shortly realized it was bioluminescence—my favorite! I was hoping to see bioluminescence on our trip and I got my wish! It’s like sparkles in the water, especially if you agitate the water a bit. Magic!
We knew the rain was coming in around 3am so we prepared our safari-style tents and put in our ear plugs to drown out the loud wind we were about to experience. Around midnight the storm began, and the wind really picked up. It was so loud that it woke Jonah and I up. I was a little freaked out for the rest of the group but continued to trust that everything was going to be okay. I had panicked feelings and thoughts like, “What is everyone thinking? Is everyone okay? Are they able to sleep through this? Do they regret coming on this retreat?” I continued to use mantras like “All is well. Rest so that you can be there for everyone in the morning. And I am everything I want to be. I have everything I need.” I slept on and off that night and woke around 6am.
I was nervous to even leave the tent the wind was blowing so hard and I could hear it raining. I mustered up the courage to leave the tent to go take care of my oral hygiene and use the bathroom. The wind was really strong, and I was pleasantly surprised to see that all of the trees and tents were still standing strong, and there was coffee and hot tea waiting for us. I enjoyed some coffee and all was right in the world. Deep sigh of relief. We made it through the night!
We practiced yoga as a group and enjoyed breakfast together. What unfolded the rest of the week was pure beauty. Although the weather was never ‘perfect’ and the wind was pretty strong the whole week, our group embraced the best of it. We played, told stories, shared our hearts, relaxed into the unknown each day with being off-the-grid.
I cannot help but parallel our experience heading to Glover’s Reef, embracing a storm and coming out as a strong, cohesive group than what is happening in the world today. We are currently weathering a storm. There is so much unknown and we are taking things day by day. I can only ask that you continue to embrace the unknown. Trust in the experience. Have faith that life is happening FOR you, not TO you.
FINDING COMFORT IN THE STORM
As we mentioned, the wind never really eased up on us during our stay on Glovers Reef Atoll. In fact, it was obnoxiously blowing the whole time – there was no break. That paired with the thick clouds of overcast skies and occasional bouts of rain, made for the opposite of what most of us were imagining when we thought of an off-grid island adventure retreat. The weather altered the ocean activities we may have been doing under more calm conditions.
This led to the beauty that I observed. If I were to narrow it to one word, it would be community. Because there were only two communal places in protection from the weather, we and our participants were forced to spend our time together in close quarters. This seemed to speed the natural process of bonding, creating an accelerated strength within our small community.
The time was spent together playing games, sharing products for DIY facials, some arts & crafts, twerking to music, laughter, story telling, and holding space for one another as our connections deepened. The daily three meals were a great opportunity to further the connections we were making with one another, as well as with our adventure guides. Through these experiences, we were able to let go of some of our discomforts, fears, and anxieties. Although there was hope for better weather, there was an acceptance of what we were experiencing and a comfort we held that everything was perfect as it was.
Today, I am drawing in what I observed during our retreat experience, grasping my translation of hope and acceptance from it, and alchemizing my emotions regarding the current events of the world. I hold onto hope for our society and our planet, that we can endure the difficulties and challenges we all are faced with, coming out on the other side stronger, smarter, resilient and connected. I accept where we are today, believing and trusting that this is happening for us to grow and expand from. I am comforted, knowing that this is perfect for us in that this experience is some sort of medicine – and I am comfortable not knowing what this medicine is healing right now.
This alchemistic shift is my choice. It isn’t right or wrong. It isn’t better or worse than any other choices. It just is. I love that I have this as an option, and I hope you truly contemplate yours.