If you’ve meandered through my blog much, you’ve probably picked up on the fact that I’m a big admirer of Gabby Bernstein and her work. So, when she announced her 2016 Summer Retreat, A Way Through Every Block, I was among the first Spirit Junkies to register. This three-day event took place at the end of July at the beautiful Kripalu Center in Stockbridge, Massachusetts. This retreat was truly a weekend to remember; I’ve shared some of my takeaways in other blog posts, which you can find here.
As the title of the event infers, our focus for the weekend was finding a way through our “blocks”. Throughout the retreat, we explored different tools and techniques for both recognizing and releasing these blocks. Let me be clear, I don’t think a single participant left the weekend thinking, “Hooray, I’m free of all my blocks!” Rather, the weekend gave us the space to wonder about and acknowledge the blocks that exist in all our lives (newsflash: we all have them, be they large or small). For me, the weekend was a space to reflect and share space with others who were on similar journeys. In some ways, the time and the exercises we went through were cathartic and relaxing. In other ways, this reflection was uncomfortable and challenging. All-in-all, I left the retreat with a lot of inspiration and a mental to-do list. While my last post about the retreat touched on some basic takeaways from Gabby’s lectures, this post is dedicated to some personal epiphanies from the retreat; specifically, the three actions I intend to take as a result of the work we did. I hope some of these lessons and plans resonate with you and serve you in some way:
Explore and honor the blocks. We all have “blocks” - psychological stumbling points that keep us in the same limiting patterns or belief systems. During the retreat, Gabby guided us to find peace in the process of uncovering our blocks as well as honoring those that we’re already painfully aware of. The difficult reality is, blocks are often hidden in our subconscious and stem from something we experienced years ago. They are baggage we carry around; blocks frame the way we think, feel and act. They are often the cause of recurring patterns and limiting beliefs. What’s more, blocks come in all shapes and sizes - and they all worthy of exploration (this was a big revelation for me, I’ll share more about this in a future post).
Meditate, meditate...and meditate some more. This one has been on my personal well-being to-do list for far too long; yet, I’m still just dabbling in meditation. Luckily, Gabby Bernstein is a meditation master. During the retreat, Gabby led us through several guided meditations, including a few Kundalini kriyas for safety, healing and heart opening. If you’re unfamiliar with Kundalini, it’s a meditative form of yoga that often involves chanting (mantras - all in sanskrit) and hand postures (mudras). I’ve been a student of Kundalini for a short time now and find it to be very peaceful and restorative, but if you’ve never tried it, you’re likely to find it pretty weird (and that’s ok!). We were lucky enough to have the beautiful and talented Jai Jagdeesh join us at the retreat. Jai is a tremendous musician known for putting Kundalini mantras to music. Truly, she has one of the most magnificent and chilling voices I’ve ever heard. Meditating with her music live was a beautiful experience.
Practice holding space for others. Throughout the weekend, I gained a great appreciation for my capacity to hold space for others. Holding space, if you're not familiar with the term, can be generalized as showing compassion and empathy for others and their story. As I come to understand this concept more, I realize that it is a skill - something that you must practice and purpose to do. Certainly, holding space for others is something that many of us fail to do; and I am just as guilty as the next. What I came to realize is that I am uplifted through the practice of holding space for others. Throughout the weekend, I experienced this urge to hold space as I listened to other participants share their stories or as we sat in meditation. I’d hear whimpers and sobs coming from my neighbor and feel the distinct urge to simply reach over and grab their hand as if to silently say, “I get it, I’m here for you; it’s going to be okay.”
Since my time at Gabby’s Summer Retreat, I’ve spend quite a bit of time researching and pondering the concepts of uncovering blocks, meditating and holding space. I’ve learned so much and I’m excited to share it all with you! Before making this post, I actually went back and cut out several paragraphs of original content because I found the post was waaaaay too long. I’ll format these into shorter posts on each subtopic, so check back soon for updates on my “To-Do” list and some additional tips I’ve learned along the way! XOXO, Amanda.