For the past seven months my beautiful Jet and I have been inseparable. Every morning she’d wake me up at sunrise, wait for me to finish my tai chi practice, rush to the sofa in the living room (brush time please!), cuddle up on my chest whenever I’d sit down, wait for me to come home and fall sleep in my arms at night, her soft nose pressed against my cheek. And now, out of the blue, this sweet creature, light of my life, is gone. Leaving me with nothing but memories. I will always remember that she was so scared on one of our last visits to the vet that she stuck her little head underneath my jumper, hiding in the safety of my embrace. It melted my heart to see how much she came to trust me, this little rescue animal, in the short period that I knew her. Faced with an emptiness that cannot be filled, I lost faith that there is always light to be found in the darkness. Overwhelmed with grief and feeling utterly defeated, I questioned everything. What’s the point in trying when we are all going to die anyway? But like the phoenix rising from the ashes, I too must start over. And so, with a saddened heart, I set out to rebuild all dreams lost.
Retreats are wonderful things. I mean the ones where a bunch of people go to a beautiful location for an intensive experience of something or other, with lots of togetherness. I’ve been on quite a few. From summer art camps to meditation/yoga/martial arts retreats across Europe. Now I’m finally ready to stop forcing myself to sign up for them. You see, being in a group drains my energy and if I’m deprived of the time I need to restore that energy, I get ill. Surrounded by so many happy campers, I’ve always felt there must be something wrong with me. If only I would be stronger, less sensitive, more relaxed, I would be able to keep up with the others. But there’s nothing wrong with me. Where does it say that growth (or enlightenment) can only be found in this intensive group setting? I understand now that just because something is good, it does not automatically mean that it is good for me. To each her own way and her own prayer. Or as a beautiful voice once whispered in my ear: you only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves. For me that is doing a little practice down by the river every day.