Alex gave me a really great birthday gift this year. With our third baby on the way, we had been joking that it would probably be years before we were able to spend time alone again. SO he surprised me with a Hawaiian vacation on a retreat with spiritual teacher Ram Dass. His parents watched our boys. It was wonderful! If you’re not familiar with Ram Dass, you may have heard one of my favorite quotes of his “treat everyone you meet like God in drag.” No? He may be most well known for his iconic bestseller, Be Here Now. If you haven’t heard of that either, it’s okay. I would love to share a few things I learned over the week from Ram Dass and the other spiritual teachers who were in attendance.
The most profound joy can come when we have lost everything
This is a tough one I know. However, I believe it is possible because Ram Dass himself is a man who has lost almost everything, and he’s more joyful than ever. At 86 years old he has suffered a severe stroke which leaves him physically unable to walk and barely able to speak. He also found himself close to financial ruin a few years ago. He is able to get out the few words it takes to explain to us how he’s able to find joy in the stillness and simplicity of his life today. I can only hope to reach a point one day where I am able to appreciate the sound of music, the blue of the ocean and the beauty in others as much as he. In his eyes you can see a man who is so full, yet one may take a look at him and see a person without much at all. His lesson to us about how he is able to appreciate the present moment more than anything was a life changer for me. Now, when I’m experiencing stress, negative feelings or anxiety I think of him whispering the words “this moment.” “This moment.” That’s all it really takes for me to bring my attention inwards, take a deep breathe and remember this moment is really all we have.
Prayer, faith and devotion come in many forms
Have you ever heard of Krishna Das? He won a Grammy many years ago for his kirtan music. I LOVE kirtan. I never recognized why I loved it so much, and one night Krishna Das explained that it is his form of prayer or talking to God. I think we must have this in common. If you haven’t heard his music, check it out. Some people get confused when they first hear kirtan. Relax, its not a religion or cult. It is simply another channel available to speak to our creator, whoever we believe that is.
everybody is human
You would think this goes without saying, but it’s always nice to have a reminder. I had a great time watching the many different spiritual teachers in attendance over the week. The small retreat gave us all a chance to interact on a daily basis and I chatted and swam in the ocean with a few teachers I love. What did I learn? Lots, but most of all I learned we are all just trying to figure it out. Sure, they knew more than I did about yoga, meditation, what happens when we die…..etc. BUT…when it comes to parenting, eating, traveling, relationships, they are all still very much trying to figure things out like the rest of us. I will say Ram Dass may be a step ahead of us all, but the guy is 86 years old. I love being reminded that we are all just walking each other home. His words, not mine.
opportunities to connect are everywhere
Sometimes I feel really disconnected and stressed out. Especially at the end of the day with three little kids! Reconnecting to ourselves and the world around us is as simple as finding the joy in just one moment. Just one! Over the course of this pregnancy I have been in excruciating pain and really suffering. One swim out into the ocean with a turtle and I was able to forget it all. If I could find the connection just five times throughout my day, I feel like life would be different. Goals to come home with!
Have you ever been on a retreat? What was your favorite? We plan on attending more Ram Dass retreats with our children in the future. Come along if you like!