Stress. We all experience it. We know what it does to us, yet it continues to be the standard state of mind, body, and spirit for many of us. Anxiety keeps us gripped in a strait jacket; incessant multi-tasking locks us into warp speed and scatters our energy; and depletion leaves us feeling like there’s never enough (time, money, sleep, happiness, ease, you name it). We run on the hamster wheel faster and faster, speeding up to keep up, doing more to get it all done, and taking care of everyone and everything else.
Giving is wonderful. Extending ourselves in service to others, sharing our gifts, wisdom, and time is very important. The world is in need of what we have to give. But, if we keep giving and giving, doing and doing, without plugging into our true source and replenishing ourselves, we will run dry. Our souls can become depleted.
We can run on spiritual depletion for a while, because the effect is not too noticeable at first. It might feel like a lack of inspiration, feeling out of sync, a restlessness, a sense of uncertainty about life, a longing for something more but we don’t know quite what. Unfortunately, this initial feedback usually doesn’t get our attention to slow down and replenish ourselves. If we keep plowing through these outer red flags, we’ll hit the mental ones: overreaction to things, mind racing, quick to anger, feeling on edge, crying for no apparent reason, resenting the fact that we keep giving and others don’t appreciate it. Most of the time, we barge through these flags, too, and the soul depletion will try to get our attention through the physical body. We start feeling run down, we get sick more often, the body hurts and aches, we can’t sleep well.
Instead of recognizing these signs of spiritual depletion as feedback to refill ourselves, the tendency is to keep on going and somehow try to feel better through quick fixes. The Band-Aids of comfort food, cocktails, Netflix binging, and endless internet scrolling don’t help for very long; they come off and we’ve got to find another one to put on. Unless we go back to the source of the real depletion, anything we try to fill ourselves up with falls straight through our tank just like nothingness.
What’s needed is to stop the doing. Stop the depleting outward flow, and allow for a receiving inward flow.
Allowing is the art of receiving.
Receiving is the secret of giving.
Giving is the process of manifestation.
Manifestation is the road to prosperity.
These four sentences have changed my life. They were shared with me by a dear friend a couple of years ago. In order to manifest things, in order for them to come into fruition, we must give of ourselves in some way. That makes sense and we would probably all agree with that. But look at that second sentence: Receiving is the secret of giving. What? That turns the idea that many of us have been taught of “it’s better to give than receive” right on its head. And then the first sentence: Allowing is the art of receiving. Wow. Allowing myself to receive is the foundation for giving, which is the building block for manifestation, which is the way, the road, to abundance.
Allowing and receiving. It’s the antidote to depletion and all the stress we experience. We’ve got to put the oxygen mask on ourselves first and breathe deeply before we put the mask on others. This is not selfish. This is self-care at the very important, fundamental level. Soul care is health care. We must allow our souls to be filled up, replenished, fed…before we can fill up, replenish, and feed others.
The feeding of our soul is crucial, especially for those of us who are dedicated to taking care of and serving others. Yet, is it one of the hardest things to actually do. We are maxed out, run down, on edge, depleted, looking for a better way. And yet, our response to allowing ourselves to receive and replenish is often “I’m too busy,” “I don’t have enough time,” or “I feel guilty doing something for myself.”
If we want a different experience, and most of us do, then we must actually do something different. If we want to take care of ourselves, then we have to actually make the time to do it. Souls hurt, minds hurt, bodies hurt, yet making a change to take care of ourselves seems monumental; another thing to add to the list of things to do. It’s not easy to carve out meditation time when the sink is full of dishes, the laundry needs to be done, the kids have to go to soccer, and what in the world are we going to have for dinner?
Something that really helps is a retreat. A retreat is a strategic withdrawal from all the externals, the act of retiring or drawing back in, as into safety or seclusion. The word retreat comes from the Latin word retrahere which means retract; to draw back in, to take back.
A day retreat is good, a weekend retreat is really nice, and a week-long retreat can restore your soul. Many of you know that I lead a retreat in Montana at the Feathered Pipe Ranch. Being at the ranch for a whole week is medicine. It’s soul food. If you are experiencing the feedback of soul depletion and know you need some self-care but just can’t carve it out for yourself anywhere, I invite you to come with me to the ranch this summer. Physically putting yourself in a new place really helps jumpstart the new pattern of self-care and allowing yourself to receive. When you’re away from the dishes, the laundry, the cooking, the job – away from all the externals – you can begin to really slow down and slide into the conscious pause, the space, the present, and step off that hamster wheel of constant doing. Once you do that, you start being. The garden hose of soul depletion becomes unkinked and energy, light, love, calm, radiance, peace, and healing begin to pour back into you. “Oh yeah!” becomes the mantra as you remember who you really are and your truth comes to the surface and starts shining out, with a new brightness and brilliance.
The great thing about going on retreat for a week is that it takes a few days to settle and really begin to let go of the warp speed living. A weekend, though wonderful, usually isn’t long enough to allow for this shedding process. When I am in Montana, I notice that after a couple of days, I have finally let go of that speed and have dropped into a river of delicious slowness. My energy has increased to the sweet state of calm. When I look in the mirror, the lines in my face go away and I start to look more radiant, more glowy. I really noticed this “ranch effect” last year. When I arrived to teach my week, my friend Anne was there, just finishing her week of teaching. There I was, getting off the van, all spazzy and excited, with warp speed all over me. I saw her walking down the trail, ran up to her (because I hadn’t seen her in a whole year), and man, she had The Glow. For years, she and I had always been at the ranch together, shedding and glowing at the same time. But wow, what a contrast to see myself, just arriving, and her, after a whole week of transformation. Of course, after a few days of settling, we had The Glow too.
Think about joining me June 22-29 for Soul Food: A Creative Celebration of Freedom and Authenticity. If you’re in need of replenishment, I can’t think of a better recommendation to fill your tank all the way back up to full and overflowing. Immerse and ground yourself in nature, which reduces the production of cortisol, the stress hormone. Fill your lungs with pristine mountain air and drink fresh spring water. Slow down and savor some of the most delicious food you’ve ever had, made with love. Detox from digital media and from incessant multi-tasking. Internet is there, if you need it, but you’ll find sitting in an Adirondack chair on the grassy meadow under the aspen, looking at the big sky ever so much more appealing. And healing. Feed your mind with the silence of meditation, meaningful conversations, and thought-provoking group discussions. Rejuvenate your body with mindful movement: Freedom Yoga accessible for every single body, and a meditative dance practice I created called Bhakti Moves. Open your voice and tune to into your resonance through song and chanting. The inner talking will go way down and your listening ears will go up, bringing your intuition and inspiration back into full flow. Come with me. Allow yourself to receive. Feed your soul and come alive.
Retreat details are here at the Feathered Pipe website.