Why have you gone to all three Big Om Yoga Retreats so far?
Because they’re fun. Because they’re close. They are an inexpensive way to make memories, and I love my Be Love Community.
What’s it like the day after returning from the retreat?
Withdraw. I have to breathe through it because you just don’t want the retreats to end.
How do you create a balance between having withdraw from the retreat and carrying your experiences from the retreat with you into your day-to-day?
Well, I do try and talk about the retreat when I come back, and I share pictures with everybody. And then I start planning for the next one.
What was your favorite workshop at the last Summer Retreat?
Joe’s opening class was wonderful. I remember that because it all came together. He honed us in, and we opened up and started moving. That’s what I remember the most about that one.
How did his class make you feel?
Always welcome. Joe always makes me feel welcome. Joe makes everybody feel welcome.
What was your favorite workshop at the last Fall Retreat?
I enjoyed Matthew’s workshop.
How did that make you feel?
How does that still make you feel now?
I just still feel supported. I know that I’m on my right path, and that workshop opened it up for me.
What was your favorite workshop at the Winter Retreat?
Tell me more about that.
So, life is a continuation. I feel like we have to let go of stuff in our past to welcome new experiences in. We as yogis know that. And I’m still working on that. So letting go of things in the past and renaming them as experiences that have shaped me into the man I am today instead of using them as a crutch for the man I used to be yesterday.
Tell me more about the people you have connected with at the Big Om Yoga Retreats.
My connections are with everybody there, and it feels like Kindergarten all over again. Everybody feels like family once you get to know them and realize they are just a human being also with problems and goals and desires and pitfalls. We all have made mistakes. We are all the same. We are all just looking for a way to escape from all of that for a little bit, and yoga provides that. The retreat gives us that. Life is moving real quickly nowadays, so it’s easy to be distracted from our calling I think, but the yoga retreat has centered me enough to realize that I am right where I need to be. So yes, it’s like Kindergarten, no judgment, lots of play. You feel like whatever you say is all right and it’s what somebody needs to hear right at the right time. So, it just allows you the opportunity to be who you truly are. It has for me.
What kind of environment is created at the retreats for you to be able to connect with yourself and others in this way?
I feel so supported, so safe, loved, nurtured, uplifted. Supported--I can’t say that enough. Completely surrounded by people who have the same goals and desires and dreams and passions as I do. It’s just hard to explain. We’ve just all vibrated together, everybody feels like a big extended family.
The retreat is not long, it’s only a weekend, so at what point into the retreat do you go from feeling like you’re surrounded by a group of strangers to feeling like you’re surrounded by family?
Right after the opening ceremony. Right away, after we Om it in, there’s a spirit that comes over all of us.
What is something specific that you can point to in your life and say, the Big Om Yoga Retreats gave me this?
Just to slow it all down. Memories happen in the moment. Not in a day, but in a moment, so slow it all down or you’re gonna miss something. Slow it down.
What other places do you now feel free to express yourself like you have done at the Big Om Yoga Retreats?
It’s spilled over into my classroom at work. And probably into my professional life as well, even with the people I work with. I work for Tulsa Tech and they’re like family too, so the retreat has allowed me to make a connection with everybody I come into contact with. I just feel that it’s okay to be me today. It’s okay. I have something to offer and I know what that is. And we’re all here on purpose. We all have something to offer, so discovering what that is and offering that is a gift. It not only benefits the giver but it benefits the receiver too.
Are you going to the Spring Retreat?
How are you feeling about it right now?
I’m ready. Um. Yeah, I’m gonna make all of them. I’m gonna make all the retreats. Why not? It’s what I love to do, and we’re so close to them. It’s a treat. It’s a mini-vacation. It’s a rejuvenation. It’s a refocus. It’s a regroup.
Have you ever had the experience that some old wounds or old hurts have been opened up during the retreat, and after you return home, you’re dealing with the aftermath of that?
Not yet. It’s been pretty exciting so far. And I know there’s hidden wounds there that must come to the surface that I will need to deal with whenever they come up. They just haven’t surfaced yet. I like to think about rewording the past too. That helps with old hurts. You can write a different story about it. At anytime you can rewrite your past. You can say, “People did the best they could.” “We were all learning back then.” “Hurt people hurt people.”
Whenever you’re at the retreats, do you ever feel any kind of physical discomfort like, having to sit for a long time or not getting the food that you want?
No, not anymore. You’re fully present in the moment, and there’s enjoyment in every breath. Get comfortable. It’s like Kindergarten. If you’re not comfortable, it’s your own fault. Lay down if you have to.
Is it a safe space where you feel that you have the ability to meet your needs in whatever way you need to?
Yeah, you can lay down if you want to. You don’t have to sit. You can do whatever you want. Make a memory. Let go of those old ones that aren’t working; make a new one. There’re too many good things happening. If you’re not happy, you’re not thinking about happy things. Change your thoughts. Get happy. Make a new memory.
Photo by Ryan Magnani