LEARNING TO TRUST, LEARNING TO RECEIVE
Nothing can be forced, receptivity is everything – BKS Iyengar
Last week, YFBP spent time on retreat in a light filled beach town in Uruguay called Jose Ignacio. We partnered with our friend Isabella, who years ago had the right impetus (she is the kind of girl who seems to always be in the right place at the right time) and moved to Jose Ignacio to open up a yoga studio called “The Shack Yoga”.
We knew we loved South America as a destination for retreats, but this particular gem south of the equator, has a magic all it’s own. As soon as we stepped foot off the plane and into the duney, bright white, whispery streets of Jose Ignacio, everything started to slow down. The immediate resonance with the rhythm of this place was complete and total receptivity. A receptivity that immediately reinforced an overwhelming sense of trust that this place was going to take care of us and all the students who were en route to retreat.
Jose Ignacio isn’t a place to rush around or force anything. This is the kind of land that gives so much all day long that you have no place to intervene, and are completely and utterly forced to receive what it offers. You cannot enforce your agendas and expectations on a place like this, because it’s beauty will distract you from any agenda, and it will surpass your expectations before you can recall what they were in the first place.
Naturally, we decided that the theme of the week for class was a focus on receptivity and trust. A group of mostly New Yorkers, plopped down in the middle of their winter, into a billowy, great gatsby like beach town. Every corner you turned, transparent cream curtains serenaded your stroll, billowing out the windows, or at least this is how we remember it feeling. Come to think of it there were no curtains flowing out the windows, but this is how every step felt. Beauty came, you barely had to lift a finger.
Could life feel like this more often? Do we have to travel around the globe, not be working, and practice yoga for 5 hours a day to feel safe enough and relaxed enough to receive again and to trust again? Sure it is easy to drop into this level of surrender on vacation in Jose Ignacio, but what happens when you are sitting in the middle of chaos, disappointment, betrayal and loss? How do you restore your trust? How do you stay open to receive?
Pierro Ferruci, a well-known Italian psychologist writes in his book, “The Power of Kindness”: Whether we are aware of it or not, every act of trust carries with it a shiver of fear. A favorable situation can become dangerous. Deep down we know that life is insecure and precarious. However, if we do trust, the shiver carries with it a philosophical optimism: Life, with all its traps and horrors, is good”.
In the end of the day, it is always our choice. Do we want to feel the tight, clenching grip of worry and mistrust, or do we want to feel the expansiveness of patience, faith and optimism? Do we have to force our agendas on every person and place we encounter or can we empty ourselves of control and let a person or a place come to us in whatever way it is ready? No matter what we choose, life is a mixed bag. And to Ferruci’s point, it is up to us to decide what to pay attention to the most.
On retreat we are reminded of an innate beauty in the world and of the fact that our bodies can remember and feel again a state of relaxation. We may show up with our agendas (get tan, run every morning before yoga, eat at all the recommended restaurants, write in my journal every morning, etc.), only to find that even those goals cannot always be met, and the place we are visitors of, has a different plan for us. We also miss flights, can’t find our taxi drivers at the airport, order the wrong thing on the menu due to language barriers, lose our luggage, get sunburned, but in the end it all works itself out. The universe is still taking care of us.
Retreat, and travel for that matter, is a test in learning to trust and learning to receive. When someone breaks our heart suddenly, or we are blindsided by getting fired from a job we thought was going well, or we break our leg in the middle of summer, taking on that feeling of trust, making that choice, carries us across the river. It plucks us out of the dangerous spiral of worry and concern and the grip of fear that tightens the muscles between our ribs and blocks the breath from entering. Yoga is a practice that restores our trust in the world, mainly through breathing. Retreat is a practice of immersing ourselves in an entire week of breathing. As we breath, we are receiving. As we receive we remember we are loved. We are taken care of. Breath is a form of love after all.
You will have to learn ways of relaxing in the present. Enlightenment is not an effort to achieve something. It is a state of effortlessness. It is a state of no-action. It is a state of tremendous passivity, receptivity. You are not doing anything, you are not thinking anything, you are not planning for anything, you are not doing yoga exercises, and you are not doing any technique, any method - you are simply existing, just existing. And in that very moment… the sudden realization that all is as it should be. That`s what enlightenment is! ~ Osho