Bali: Lessons Learned (Part 2 of 2)

In my last post, I shared the gift that was simply honoring myself and actually creating space to get to Bali.  For this post, I looked back at the experience of actually being in Bali and to see what I learned and the theme that truly stands out is FREEDOM.  

First, let me step back and share a bit more about the retreat.  While I would typically describe this retreat as a yoga retreat, the truth is that it involves so much about personal growth making it so much more powerful.  There was kundalini yoga and workshops to help us (the participants) understand what has held us back in the past and where we we want to go in the future.  

Note:  in this blog I am not going to dive deep into any specific exercises that happened at the retreat.  I highly recommend seeing Mastin live if any of this interests you.  What I want to do in this blog post is share my big takeaways because I think they are helpful and important for anyone interested in a happier life.

So back to FREEDOM!

Freedom to be who I am

There was one particular personal growth exercise that focused on identifying our top positive emotions.  I’ve done this exercise before and honestly never fully connected with the results.  It’s hard for my to explain why, but it always felt like the emotions that came up for me couldn’t be trusted because they were really just coincidences.

Through the process, I realized that my subconscious was judging and editing my emotions before I was even able to feel them.  Who was I to feel excited or silly or joyful or fun?  For so long, I had identified with being a successful independent woman with her MBA and a great career that I couldn’t even imagine feeling anything but driven, ambitious, and frankly stressed. 

It felt so incredible to release that facade.  I felt alive!  Now this doesn’t mean an important product launch meeting is the perfect time to be silly and laughing but think about the same meeting led with a tone of excitement instead of a tone of dread of all the upcoming work.  

More importantly for me, it’s taking those positive emotions and incorporating them into all areas of my life and focusing on those moments, no matter how brief, instead of the negative ones.  

Freedom that comes from loving myself 

There always seems to be that one thing that happened in each of our pasts that continues to hold us back to this day.  I was really struggling with one event (and not really relevant to share specifics here but I will share soon!). It was a block I couldn’t see past.  I was beyond feeling stuck.  I was frustrated and annoyed.  The simple advice of learning to love myself seemed underwhelming in comparison to what I perceived as the magnitude of the issue.  

And as others shared their story I saw the same pattern over and over again.  It’s funny how it’s so easy to spot other people’s blind spots but yet so difficult to see our own.  As the word blind spot suggests these moments of shame block us from seeing our true selves.  These incredibly awesome and beautiful people could not see their worthiness. 

And neither could I.  

I had always thought the solution was a true action plan.  To figure out my choices, pick the best one, and create the path to get there.  I needed to know what’s next.  But now I know the next step is just to love myself.  And that feels so incredibly free and light.  The only right choice I need to make and is to learn to love myself, not despite of my flaws but because of them. 

Freedom to do the work

When I got home, the question most often asked was “What was your favorite part of Bali?”  And my answer was always “just being there.”  The scenery was beautiful, lush, and green.  The hot sun was peaceful and energizing and the same can be said for the quick and powerful rain storms.  I went swimming almost every day after breakfast after yoga and had a massage practically every other day.  I drank banana smoothies made from bananas picked right off the banana tree! 

It wasn’t until I go home that I truly understood this gift.  As I returned to a life where I needed to go grocery shopping, meal plan and prep, vacuum, and dust, it was all a bit overwhelming. All of these chores are important to a productive life but they take a lot of energy in both the planning and the execution. 

It was such a gift to be free of distractions and to be able to submerge myself in this retreat.  There were no energy drains or distractions from daily life.  Rooms were cleaned daily and food was provided.  In fact technology, including wi-fi, was not allowed so there were no energy drains from the news, social media, or friends and family.  I was able to experience and be present for all that was offered.  And it was fantastic.      

I keep referring to this new mindset as “Bali Brain”.  These Freedom lessons are allowing me to make decisions that are more aligned with who I am - from deciding what to post on Instagram to turning my phone to airplane mode for some interrupted time.  These small baby steps will add up to a much more dramatic shift over time and that's what every journey is really all about.