In Hinduism everything seems to come in threes. There are three main gods, Shiva, Vishnu and Brahma. Prayers come in sets of three, flower offerings come in threes, it goes on and on. So it was fitting that yesterday was a day of three major events.
I awoke to find myself a teacher at a yoga retreat. I am one month out of my training and here I was in front of students from Australia, England, Holland, Canada… all in Bali for a week of practice and rejuvenation. Once again I felt completely at ease in the front of the class and the yogi smile that takes over my face when I take that seat was in full view for all to see.
I am both teacher and student in this retreat and I drank in every drop of yogic wisdom I could from Iyan while trying to embody the perfect trikonasana (triangle pose) so the students would see by example where their hips, shoulders, arms should be. I told the class about bandas (energy locks) and led them in pranayama (breathing exercises), and when classes were over I felt that yogi high I have come to be a junkie for.
In between our morning asana practice and our afternoon restorative class I got an email informing me that my best friend and I are officially, legally, no longer married. By decree I am once again Rachel Roberts and I can now add to the list of monikers I am amassing… divorcee.
This has been a long time coming and really is a small detail since my best friend and I decided to not be married anymore months ago, but for some reason the state of Colorado recognizing the dissolution of our union brought all the sorrow home again.
I met Mary for coffee and took a moment to be thankful I had a close friend here to give me a much needed hug and some sage words to help me see through the clouds. Mary said to acknowledge that what he and I had chosen to do was not leave each other, but to give ourselves back to ourselves. I have chosen to give him the opportunity to be the best person he can be and he has returned that gift to me.
And now, half a world separates us but our paths are more closely aligned then they have been the last few years. For this I am immeasurably thankful and in a strange way I feel that we are closer now we were when we were sleeping under the same roof.
As I write this tears are streaming down my face and I am interrupting the serenity of this retreat with nose blowing every two minutes or so, but here and now I can recognize that these are tears of sorrow yes, but they are mixed with tears of hope and tears of joy for the man he is becoming and the woman I now am.
A cup of coffee, a few words of wisdom from Mary and one hour of restorative yoga class and something profound happened. I realized I’m okay. The sky, of what was my whole world, has fallen and I am okay.
After dinner everyone in the retreat went to the Tirta Empul Temple. This is the source of Bali’s holiest holy water. Legend has it that the god Indra struck the earth with his sword creating the spring to provide pure water for his soldiers. The spring provides a huge amount of water to this day and is the main source for the Sungai Pakerisan River.
One of the beautiful parts about Hinduism is that everyone is welcome to participate in the traditions, regardless of beliefs, religion or lack there of. With the assistance of Iyan and a Hindu priest each of us presented offerings, prayed at two different shrines and underwent the Tampaksiring Purification ritual.
The real cleansing takes place at the waterspouts of the temple. The first pool has around 13 spouts. We each stopped at every spout first raising our hands above our heads, then splashing water on our faces three times, followed by submerging entirely three times, then splashing our faces again three times and finally hands above our heads. We did this at each of the spouts. Then, we went to the second set of pools and repeated the process at five more spouts. From here we went into the temple and completed the ceremony with one more set of prayers and an offering of flowers and incense.
For me the symbolism, and ceremony of literally washing it all away… of total cleansing… on this of all days… was powerful and profound. When it was over my skin and hair felt so soft, baby soft. I felt grounded and light at the same time. And while I was still feeling some of the weight of the day’s events, I also felt indescribably different than I had before the springs.
Now it is the day after trinity day and it is a day of silence (mouna) here at the retreat. During mouna days I do a lot of writing. Basically, the idea of silence is to not carry on a conversation with anyone but yourself and that for me is what this dialogue is. It is a snapshot of one day in my life – an extraordinary day that I will never relive. A day that brought me happiness and growth, deep sorrow and pain, and finally it was all washed away, leaving me perhaps imperceptively changed, but changed nonetheless.
Begin at the Beginning
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