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The Poetry of Retreat.

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Hello May! How are we almost halfway through the year already?

This is the speed of life. Even for those of us who are consciously choosing to live a slower and more mindful lifestyle, time sure does fly more and more quickly the older we get.

This is why I participate in retreats—they serve as a blessing and an opportunity for deep transformation. Getting away from the scenery and stresses of our everyday lives enables us to dive more deeply into spiritual practice and timeless life lessons; and it makes coming home all the more sweet.

But this is not to say that retreats are easy or full of total happiness and refreshment. What may look or seem indulgent, luxurious, and extraneous on the outside can be intensely challenging and difficult, yet it’s somehow also fulfilling.

One thing is for sure: if we truly immerse ourselves in a retreat, stuff is going to shift. We’ll spend several hours each day, every day practicing mindfulness skills. Our level of awareness will gradually grow. Important realizations are going to occur, if that is our intention and we are willing and available to do the work by simply showing up to practice with an open mind and heart.

This poem was inspired by my participation in an awesome week-long yoga retreat with a wonderful Kundalini and Ashtanga yoga teacher. I so highly recommend Akasha Ellis’ annual New Year’s retreat at Villa Sumaya in Guatemala.

Whether you’re able to participate in a retreat or not, may these words be of benefit:

Wake up well before the dawn.

Set an alarm, just in case. Though I’ve become an early bird, I don’t want to miss a moment of the 5 a.m. sadhana.

Under the veil of darkness, stroll along the starlit, lapping lake to the candlelit temple where White Tara beams down upon us every day and night.

A clear voice emerges from the shadows.

Akasha shares his personal practice with us, in a down-to-earth, natural, friendly way. He casually imparts the wisdom of years and decades of practice—a lifetime. So humbly, with the authenticity of actions and the nebulous precision of words. Time bends.

Kundalini is the foundation, the means and the end.

Breathing, chanting, moving, holding, listening. Paying attention.

With its inimitable discipline, the brilliant sun rises and gorgeous pastels paint the sky. We invite the morning light. The lake’s daily awakening. We listen to the sounds, the water, the boat motors, voices, birdsong, our own breathing.

Then it’s time for a series of seven-minute chants. I read from the sheet and marvel at all the people in the room who have these long strings of Sanskrit syllables memorized.

Mid-morning Ashtanga practice. Inner power, outer sweat, and shaking muscles. Wise effort. Finding boundaries, expanding former limits.

We are mountain men and women gaining strength, vitality. Soaking up inspiration from our teacher and his teacher’s teachers.

The retreat lasts just one week, yet we go so deep, transforming energy on all levels.

Strangers swiftly become sangha, spiritual friendships forged over vegetarian meals and spirit animal tarot cards.

Healing circle, full moon, New Year’s Eve; glowing hearts, positive energy, splendid synergy.

Giving and receiving.

Inner transformation, outward evolution. Deep bow of gratitude, dream come true.

Group hugs, basking together in one love.

The closing of one chapter leads to the opening of the next.

Sat Nam. Namaste.



I went to a Meditation Retreat for some “Me Time” & left with this Instead.

Chasing Highs: Confessions of a Spiritual Retreat Junkie.


Author: Michelle Margaret Fajkus
Image: Artem Bali/Unsplash
Editor: Nicole Cameron
Copy Editor: Yoli Ramazzina

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About Michelle Margaret Fajkus

Michelle Margaret Fajkus is a yogini, writer and teacher who founded Yoga Freedom in 2002 in Austin, Texas. Her home base since 2012 has been magical Lake Atitlán in the Guatemalan highlands where she lives in an eco cabin with her Colombian partner, daughter, dog and two gatos. Michelle has been writing this column for elephant journal since 2010 and has written several inspiring books, with more on the way. Michelle's style incorporates hatha yoga asana, dharma teachings, pranayama/breathwork, yin, mindfulness, mantra and meditation. Go on retreat with Michelle in Guatemala!


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