It was a spectacular morning; sun shining, temp just right, low humidity, gentle breeze. One of those days that stands out in your mind because it was just so perfect.
I was at Kripalu, a beautiful yoga retreat center in the Berkshires.
I started my day with a sunrise yoga class, had a delicious breakfast, and was about to take a late morning hike in the woods.
"Life is good", I thought to myself.
Our group of 10 started out with a few stretches and a brief meditation at the foot of the hiking path. I was so excited. Looking forward to lots of movement and breaking a sweat.
The silent portion of the hike began and we quietly walked single file into the woods.
It quickly became apparent that Kripalu's definition of 'hike', was not aligned with my own.
Yes, we were in the woods.
Yes, there was a path.
Yes, the guide had a backpack.
And still, this was more like a stroll you would take through a new town after a too-big dinner. Walking slowly, exploring, taking in the sights, no rush.
In hindsight, this makes COMPLETE sense, but it was drastically different than what I envisioned.
I was here for movement!
Fast paced action!
Cuts and scrapes from all the outdoorsy, rugged activity!
So there I was.... inching my way through the forest behind a very sweet older woman named Jane.
Jane was lovely.... and also the slowest possible walker in the known universe.
I could feel the tension building in my body.
Jaw tightening, fists clenching, shoulders scrunching, mind RACING.
Oh. My. Lord.
What is going on here?
Is this what it's going to be like the whole time?
It's almost not possible to walk this slowly
Move. Your. Legs. Faster. Jane.
I should have done something else
I'm not going to be able to walk behind this woman the whole time
Is it possible to pass her without being rude?
Breathe Carolyn.... you can walk a little slower for one day
But still, will we ever start moving faster?
Maybe I can get in front of her if we stop and then start again....
I should have gone alone, but then I would get lost in the woods and no one would ever hear from me again
How much longer will this be....
Breathe Carolyn.... and look around, this is actually really beautiful
But, I just wish....
And on it went.
This dance of frustration with the slower pace, punctuated by moments of real presence and appreciation for the opportunity to be out in the woods on a beautiful Wednesday morning.
And I watched my mind switch between wanting to go go go, and then reminding myself to breathe, allow, and soften my incessant need to change this experience.
To make it different, to alter it, instead of enjoying it as it is.
The more I let go of the way I thought this hike should be (we always suffer when we struggle against what is!) the more I was able to enjoy it.
Then I could recognize the real beauty there.
There were birds singing, and beautiful flowers, and cool spiraly tree trunks, and dots of sun peeking through the tree canopy - things I never would have have noticed if I was doing my usual NYC-style race walking.
Breathe. Slow down.
It's the best reminder - and for sure the one we need the most in our hectic, over-scheduled, non-stop days.
So, in the end, the BIG lesson learned was....
Slowing Down is Hard AF
.... and also soooo worth it
This sign should have been a hint of what was to come!
So much of our days are spent being busy - accomplishing, creating, responding - getting from here to there as quickly as possible.
But there is so much value in the slow down.
We talk about it in yoga all the time.
Slow down, there's no rush.
Take your time.
But that's why we keep coming back, keep practicing and studying these things that help us soften and relax. We practice when we don't necessarily need it (like in a yoga class), so that it's more easily available to us when we do.
Five or ten years ago Carolyn would have walked away from this experience with a very different takeaway. Specifically, I am never going on a hike in Kripalu again.
How cool to now see it from a different perspective? And end up enjoying - and truly appreciating - what once would have ruined my day.
So, the question for you is.... where are you rushing in your own life.
And then, importantly, where and how, can you slow down.
>> LET'S PRACTICE <<
Identify one single thing you can do TODAY to slow down. Write it on a sticky note, place it where you'll see it.... and then actually do it.
Notice what happens.
Some Other (Random) Takeaways
Sometimes the car ride/trip there is one of the best parts
Everything is Figureoutable - loved this audio book from Marie Forleo
I need to be near more lakes
6:30 am yoga is a great way to start the day
"Props are not the easy way out, but the intelligent way in"
One of the yoga teachers said this and I LOVE it
Sleeping lakeside with the window open is ahhhmazing
Fresh air deep in the woods is clear, crisp and somehow smells like the color green
Deer can swim! Like miles out into a lake 😳
"Move in a way that brings joy to your heart"
Another yoga teacher said this... and just, yes!!
And lastly, it’s ok (encouraged even!) to get yourself something from the gift shop. It’s also ok to get your husband chocolate chip cookies from said gift shop… and then eat one in your room just to make sure they taste ok ;)
Have a beautiful week friends!
PS!! Stay tuned for more info on my NEW Healthy Mindset Living website coming soon!! I can't WAIT for you to see it!!
PPS!! I'm kicking off a Group Coaching Program in October! It's been a long time coming.... and I'm so excited about it. It's full of all the info, accountability, connection, encouragement, mindset shifts and support we all need to live a life with intention and purpose! Details to follow!!!
LET ME KNOW if you would like to be added to the waitlist for a discount and first dibs at sign up!