Lemme tell you it's taken a LONG WHILE to process everything that occurred while in on the Big Magic in the Sacred Valley Retreat. It was an absolute joy to hold space for 18 amazing souls who showed up in such a big and open way. I never expected to have a monumental shift for myself. Let me explain--I know I am changed every time I am in community with people who are like-minded yogis. I am always inspired by your stories, your love and care for one another, and your love and care for me. There are very few spaces in which we interact in the corporate world or even when with family and friends that are that giving and that filled with lovingkindness. But what I wasn't expecting was to conquer a long-held fear of my own--claustrophobia.
I’m not sure when I developed this fear, but it’s real. I do remember that I never had issues sliding down tubes at waterparks when I was a kid, so something changed later in life. I didn’t really call this fear claustrophobia until I had an MRI 3 years ago. Well, I was SCHEDULED for a double MRI. What I had was a complete and total breakdown and couldn’t complete the MRIs. I had to return, with VALIUM, to get through it. What a WTF moment for me that was!
So here I am in Peru, empowering folks and curating an experience in the Sacred Valley, and I had the wonderful idea of doing a closing ceremony — a Temazcal or sweat lodge. According to the website at my now second home, a Temazcal is described as the following…
It is a natural therapeutic experience of heat and steam, which is inspired by the ancient pre-hispanic practices of traditional medicine. Its use throughout history has been therapeutic and as a ritual-ceremony, the practice has survived through the years as a tradition of the various indigenous communities in America. The relaxation generated by experience impels us to a deep state of peace, introspection, reflection and full attention. Temazcal therapy is a beautiful and powerful moment in our lives, an opportunity to reconcile with ourselves, a unique experience of purification and re-connection with our inner source of wisdom and unconditional love. Closing a cycle and opening a new one in our lives, we release attachments, negative thoughts, fears and mental conditioning, delivering them to the heat of the stones Mama Willka Rumicuna grandmothers of the Earth.
It was also described as going back into the womb of the Great Mother — Pachamama, Mother Earth — and being reborn.
A “deep state of peace, introspection, reflection and full attention”?!!! More like abject TERROR for me anyway when I saw the womb into which we were to descend. There was no way I was going to intellectualize my way out of the fear I felt to go through that tiny-assed door, and into that teeny tiny space that’s not tall enough for me to stand. I knew immediately it was going to be a step of gargantuan proportions to go in. But I KNEW I had to. I was not the only person at that retreat. While I was the leader, I was absolutely in co-creation of the experiences we were having at any given time. And now, it was time for me to be held by the retreatants.
I was prepared to go in with a flower and sage cleansing. I was almost the last because I wanted to sit by the exit. I took a deep breath, got on my hands and knees, and began to go in. Right in the entrance, the absolute fear came to me. I began to shake and cry. I broke down completely — not only because I knew I was scared, but because I knew there was no going back. Not today. I was crying violently when one of my soul mirrors moved toward me to console me. Another said, No—let her do this. And I looked at them both with all the love in their eyes, infusing me with their love, compassion, and strength. Then, I looked at another, and she was gleefully smiling at me—so ready to enjoy the sweat—her eyes told me: This is something to be enjoyed! And then I looked at another one of my soul mirrors who did NOT want to do the temazcal, and her face said, come in.
Let me tell you, the tears are streaming down my cheeks as I relive these moments…
And so I took one step. And then, another. And I knew that those people were holding space for me, sending out a love and compassion that I could feel beyond my fear, and I slowly made my way in. I sat right next to my love who allowed me to have my moment without reaching out to comfort me. I found out later how hard that was. And when the door was closed, I freaked out again. I wanted to be let out. But the shaman was amazing. He told me just to breathe. He was guiding me back to my breath and to the experience. So I posted up, lying down, near the exit with a teeny escape hatch opened for me. I was so bothered I’d messed up the pitch darkness for people. The ceremony began, and as the air got warmer, I wanted to escape AGAIN. So I focused on breathing through the escape hatch.
There are four parts of the ceremony. And as they progressed, I noticed something changing.
Part 1: I was lying down on the floor, eyes open, nose pointed toward the escape hatch. I was just trying to stay in the room.
Part 2: I was lying down partially, eyes closed, participating in the song and ceremony.
Part 3: I was partially sitting, but a little fearful I’d burn myself. My eyes were closed. And I closed the teeny opening.
Part 4: I rose with an equivalence of standing while still seated, sung my heart out, and let the tears fall that I had embraced all of the darkness of the womb, my fears, my failure, my success, all of who I am. And then I began to state affirmations of all of the greatness that was in my DNA — all of the survivors who had participated in the miracle of me being born. I released my fear. And I sang.
When I came out of the temazcal, I was joy-filled. Embracing each of the spirit guides who had held me in that moment and had their own experiences and shifts, I enjoyed the most incredible and pure energetic exchange I’ve ever had the pleasure of experiencing. And when I covered myself to make my way to the outdoor showers, I realized that I needed to release one more thing. Shame. Shame about my thighs. And so I dropped my sarong to the floor, and allowed my new way of being to rain down on me.
I truly believe that in allowing myself to be a learner, participant and co-creator in the work that I’m doing is the very thing that is propelling me forward into my highest self. I honor the gurus that have paved the way, but my path is of self-healing, self-love, self-growth, and of sharing THAT story of authenticity to give others permission to heal, love, and grow themselves. Big Magic indeed.