Seven Days that Changed My Life—My Path from Head to Heart.

Via Ksenia Avdulova
on Jan 7, 2017
get elephant's newsletter

“Your task is not to seek love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.” ~ Rumi

.

.

This quote opened up The Path of Love, a seven-day personal transformation process that was meant to open me up to my creativity and to help me build a deeper connection to my inner guide.

Leading up to the retreat, I was excited to spend seven relaxing days on a ranch in the Colorado Mountains—meditating, star gazing and eating nourishing farm-to-table food.

Once I arrived, I quickly figured out that what I had signed up for was anything but that.

It was one of the most intense weeks in my life; the seven-day process stirred up buried wounds and desires. But activating body, mind and spirit through a daily 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. schedule of movement, sharing and meditation sessions left me transformed in a way no yoga or meditation retreat had done before.

My cherished prize was a liberating aha moment of feeling not just momentary bliss but full acceptance of myself, and a real-life toolkit for going out into the world as the most fully expressed version of myself: authentic, driven, funny and alive.

Here, I share my personal diary from seven days that truly changed my life.

If even a fraction of the awakening I experienced during this deeply transformational process touches your heart, my job is done.

~

Prelude: The Arrival

When I arrived, a grey-haired facilitator with a weird name almost immediately warned me that the Path of Love retreat was going to be a big challenge for me. I signed a release form agreeing that this process may not help my personal development.

The seriousness of what I’d signed up for became clear when all 50 participants from all over United Stated were asked to label our cell phones, and load them in a plastic bin. No cell phone…for a whole week!

At this point, the only thing keeping me away from booking a SuperShuttle straight back to the airport was Rachel Brathen (a.k.a. the Yoga Girl). Nope, she wasn’t there. But she’d gone through the process before, and when she spoke about her experience on Snapchat, a peaceful glow and a sense of freedom and presence emanated from her whole being.

Do I still have to switch off from my phone for a week even if I found out about this process from social media? Yep, no exceptions made.

With no technology around, I kept a written journal documenting my experience of the process, day by day.

~

Day 1: Rebel Without A Cause

I don’t think this is right for me. There are so many rules! Which bathroom to use, where to sit, what to eat (no caffeine allowed!), when to talk. Feels like I’m back at the strictest summer camp in the world.

They made us agree to the seven rules of the process, including honestly exposing my feelings at all times and facing my judgments about myself and others. This is starting to feel like MTV’s Intervention. I just want to relax and enjoy the mountain air!

Another rule is agreeing to not let my fear stop me. But who decides the difference between fear and something not being right for you?

Maybe all of this is just not for me…

I also had to agree to follow all the instructions given by the facilitators until the end of the process. Ugh. Will they notice that I didn’t put my signature at the bottom of the rule sheet?

~

Getting my last minutes of Instagram before giving away my phone for good.

~

There was literally no food at lunchApples and almond butter. This won’t work.

~
We were divided into five groups. Then we had to share our feelings. Isn’t that what I have my journal for? We also had to share our commitment to ourselves and this process. That was a tough one…as I don’t have much of either.

~

Our first Burn Meditation happened. You basically walk into a dark room with Adele blasting, and with the guidance of a facilitator, you let loose…at least some people do. Loud noise took over the room: gibberish, screaming, hitting pillows, crying, jumping. This definitely isn’t my kind of self-expression.

Seems that many people here have big wounds and need to work on specific issues. I don’t have that. Just your usual wounded inner child stuff, occasional self-sabotaging thoughts about my body and avoidance of committed relationships. I need to get out of here.

~

My facilitator talked me into giving it another try after I left “The Burn” room. Okay, I’ll accept that there may be a small part of me that’s really scared of facing what I’m feeling under the mask of calmness. I stuck it out…one layer of unexpressed emotions off.

~

Went on a sunset stroll after dinner. Did I mention we’re supposed “to find a friend in silence” (ugh) and not talk outside the sharing groups?

I found a friend not in silence…but in peaceful cows nestled in between the mountains at a ranch across the street. They listen to everything I say and won’t report me for breaking the rules.

Despite all the weird experiences today, I’m going to bed peaceful.

~

Day 2: The Wall Is Down

Woke up at 6:05 a.m. with a cold and went straight for what they call the Dynamic Meditation—loud breathing, moving and primal intuitive movement. I wonder if I’ll ever get a hang of it…

~

Cracked the food system by sneaked leftovers from dinner for lunch.

Have yet to crack into my own heart.

The facilitators announced that today we’ll be taking off the false mask that we wear to get love and recognition.

~

My most vulnerable share yet. Here I am, a girl that’s always put together and calm, crying in front of 20 people. I admitted to myself (and my group) that “I’m okay on my own” is a bandaid I’ve successfully put on the fact that I am scared of showing up fully and being seen in a relationship with a man.

~

I realized that the Burn Meditation is like a portal—if I really go into it, I get clarity around things that have been stopping me from moving forward my whole life.

Big breakthrough: I had never expressed my feelings openly up until now. I resist intimacy because I’m afraid of being rejected or judged.

This marked the first time I was able to go beyond my attachment to my personality to open up to what this work has to offer. I see the opportunity to grow and heal.

The wall is down.

~

Day 3. I Stand Up For Myself

I overslept through the Dynamic Meditation. I’m so tired!

~

It’s going to take me another full week to learn to say my facilitators’ Indian names (given to them by Osho).

~

I’m done with bottling up my emotions. Normally I’m all about being nice and pleasing people around me. Today I stood in front of 20 people and expressed rage. Surprisingly, it was more liberating than uncomfortable.

Breakthrough: Expressing negative emotions doesn’t mean I’m a bad or negative person—I’m just in touch with my feelings.There is a huge power and liberation in expressing things I don’t like and seeing compassion and understanding in the eyes of people in my group.

Feeling the darkness lose its charge and power over me as I acknowledge it. Getting in touch with new depths of desire, clarity and love.

I’m ready to be fully expressed.

~

Gave voice to my inner critic in front of two people. And then got to stand up for myself—probably for the first time ever. So many times in my life I wished I could go back in time and stand up for myself when I was bullied or misunderstood as a child…that desire feels complete now.

Feeling expressed and charged up in my solar plexus.

I’m starting to like this more and more.

~

Found an apple tree no one else knows about with the most crunchy, sweet apples…it’s the taste of the new way I’m ready to show up in the world.

~

Broke the silence with my roommate and brought our drums and ukulele on a moonlit walk to the lake.

Feeling mischievous and fulfilled.

~

Day 4. Wide Awake

It’s really cold. Woke up shivering and sore. I guess that’s what happens when I use a punching bag instead of storing emotions in my body. Now I know for sure that with emotions, it’s better out than in.

~

My concern about not having a gym around faded away. We get to move at least three times a day: in Dynamic, Burn and evening meditation sessions (which are more like a dance party).

~

Feeling the gap between my emotions (in my head) and my feelings (in my body). Today I was finally able to get out of my head and into my body, and move in a primal way. I didn’t even care what people around me will think! Liberation. Feeling worn out but happy.

~

Our facilitators said that today’s the last day of exposure work and tomorrow we’re moving into something else. We’re only halfway through this process. I already feel expressed and complete in a way I’ve never felt before. What else can there be? They’re always keeping us on our toes, we never know what’s next. At first that scared me, but now that the guard is down I feel excited to dive in deeper. I’m feeling happy that I stuck around.

~

I want this to last longer even just for the food! Farm-to-table, seasonal and you can taste the care it’s made with. Dinner was one of the most delicious meals I’ve ever eaten!

~

Evening meditation started as usual…and then turned into a rock and roll dance bash with rolling on the floor, twisting and lots of laughter. Every single participant was part of the festivity. It all seemed like one of those dreams where I’m a playful kid with zero concerns about the world’s opinion about me…until I realized it’s not a dream, and I’m more awake than I’ve ever been.

~

Day 5. The Biggest Gift I’ve Ever Received

Things are really starting to shift.

Vivid dreams that point me to things from my past that have been holding me back from accepting myself the way I am and living fully. How did I not see this my whole life?

~

Today in Dynamic Meditation I couldn’t stop going through people that I want to send here. Everyone I care about has to do the Path of Love. I can’t imagine being able to truly connect with people who haven’t done this.

~

Last night we had a sharing session about forgiveness. It felt uncomfortable and pointless in the moment, but now it’s all making sense. Something big is rising up, it’s the same feeling as when I’m getting ready to jump out of a plane at 10,000 feet above ground…

~

We were told to have a big breakfast. No idea what’s coming up. Slightly concerned.

~

Wow.

Just went through some of the most intense seven hours in my life. Faced the darkest, most forgotten corners of my identity like never before.

Feels like Day One of truly living…and I just can’t wait to take this out into the world!!! This is the biggest gift I could have received in this lifetime…

~

Cheated and checked my email. So distracting. Wishing I hadn’t done it…

~

Day 6. Celebration

Feeling sensual and in the flow. My hips are free.

~

Sad that this is coming to an end. I want to stay here and live as a commune of awakened people that enjoy nature and eat delicious food.

I LOVE everyone in my group! Feeling so connected now that we’ve shared so vulnerably with each other. New family.

~

During today’s celebration I experienced being completely present in my body yet free from my identity for the first time. Pure energy moving to the music, with no limitations. Can I be like this every day?!

~

Day 7. Liberated From Fear

Last day.

I feel seen, playful, powerful, beautiful, grounded, trusting, liberated.

~

People are starting to break the silence. I’m realizing how attached I’ve become to communicating more honestly with eyes and my body only. If only we communicated on this level with everyone, our life experience would be more rich and connected in every moment. It’s weird to think about going back to regular human language.

~

Scared that this new sweet awareness of myself will fade away soon after I leave the ranch…

~

“The world’s not going to meet you with open arms when you come out of here. There’s going to be resistance. You have to be okay with it, push through and keep claiming the new you in the world. Stand for yourself the way you did it here.”

Those were the words of a sweet soul from my group that transformed my fear into excitement.

~

Everything before this feels like a life half-lived. Feeling reborn. Not as someone else, but as the most fully expressed, radiant and loving version of myself. Can’t wait to share my true self with everyone that I cross paths with.

~

Day 84: 77 Days After Completing The Path Of Love

It’s New Year’s Eve, and I’m making a list of things I’m grateful for and the lessons I’ve learned. This year has been a big one: I quit my job to blog full-time, got rid of my apartment in New York to become a nomad, and traveled from Brazil to Bali on writing assignments. But it’s still the Path of Love that tops every list I’m making…

I’m still applying the lessons I learned in those short seven days. The way that I see myself changed completely, leading to shifts in my relationships with friends and family members, and supporting big personal life and career transitions. If every person in the world could do this kind of transformational work, our planet would be a safer, loving and peaceful place…this I know for sure.

~

Author: Ksenia Avdulova

Images: Author’s Own

Editor: Caitlin Oriel


7,758 views

About Ksenia Avdulova

Ksenia Avdulova is on a mission to connect the dots between modern technology and awakened living. Writer, speaker & social media expert, Ksenia is best known for Breakfast Criminals, a celebrated wellness destination dedicated to mindful mornings, superfood breakfasts and one-of-a-kind breakfast experiences for top brands. Most importantly, she once danced to Michael Jackson on a Times Square stage. Go to Breakfast Criminals to find out why mornings are a magic portal, and check out Digital or Alive to see how social media can help you manifest the life you want.

Comments

Leave a Reply