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  • michelle m. davis

My ABC's

Learning the alphabet is the first step for children to understand the code required for reading. At an early age we’re taught to sing our “ABC’s.” Most little ones gladly recite this tune with glee, even when they are unsure of the exact meaning.

I recently realized that we’re never too old to learn the values that the ABC’s can teach us. Two weeks ago, I discovered a new set of ABC’s… Angie, Banni, and Cynthia – three sweet souls who led a yoga retreat in Chacala, Mexico. In essence, they showed me a different code of sorts, one guiding me how to “turn inward, leading me home.”

Last November I wrote about my first retreat with these three amazing ladies – If you’ve never participated in a yoga retreat, consider the idea. It can be a transformational experience. Yet, it’s so much more than spending time on your mat – yoga is just the draw to get you there. Once fully immersed, you begin to let go and see what truly is.

Nestled between the jungle and the coast, Mar de Jade, the hotel where we stayed, is in a small town two hours north of Puerta Vallarta. My first retreat with the ABC’s was so impactful that I wanted to return this fall to see what else I might discover. An added bonus was that my husband agreed to come with me this year, an opportunity for us to grow individually as well as a couple. Conscious that no two experiences are the same, I tried to approach this retreat with an open mind and no expectations, curious as to how the week would unfold. And my ABC’s delivered once again as they showed up full force and guided us on a journey deep within.

Cynthia, Angie, and Banni took this retreat to a new level. Through a combination of daily yoga, meditation, journaling, and crystal healing, we were able to slow down, pause, and look deep inside. We learned about the connection between our movement on the mat, our breath, and our thoughts. We felt the impact of various crystals when placed on different parts of our body. And, we experienced the effects of quieting our mind in order to recognize, allow, investigate, and nurture.

But singing the alphabet involves more than just the first three letters, although they definitely serve as the foundation. This week we saw the beauty of J, C, and H…. Julie graced us with heartfelt music by playing her crystal singing bowls, Cam led us through a powerful breathwork session, and Heather showed us how to incorporate the ancient practice of Ayurveda into our lives. Cynthia, Banni, and Angie set the stage each day, but they then allowed for so much more to happen.

Not only did my ABC’s show me the light, but the eighteen other participants also guided me forward. I learned so much from the brave and radiant women and men who partook in this retreat. Each person there brought a unique gift. And we had opportunities to hold space for one another, listen, empathize, and celebrate. Whether an old friend or a new one, I had great respect, love, and admiration for each person there. To reiterate what I said last year – no one annoyed me. And when was the last time you were with twenty-one other people (mostly women) and no one pissed you off? This speaks volumes in itself.

In addition to the incredible interaction, we also had opportunities to learn more about the local culture. Many of us sat in a sweat lodge for almost two hours, undergoing a cleansing ritual of the Mexicans’ ancestors. And we witnessed Dios de los Muertos – Day of the Dead – a beautiful celebration honoring those who have gone before us. Additionally, the delicious food, all freshly prepared and organically grown by Mar de Jade, gave us the nourishment to feed our bodies so we could fully participate in the activities that would feed our souls.

The week passed quickly. While we would have liked for it to continue, it was time to return home so that we could put our newly learned skills into practice. On the way back to Philadelphia, my husband and I had several moments to process the many benefits of this time away. For me, after losing my father less than two months ago, this trip helped me ground, remember, and refresh. I guess you might call it a reboot of sort. Both my husband and I left Chacala renewed, calm, and centered. I am cognizant that this Zen-like state will not last, but I can always keep a piece of it with me. And in order to do that, all I need to do is remember what these loving, vulnerable, inspirational, and light-filled women – my ABC’s – taught me:

Allow yourself to feel what is there to feel.

Baby steps are what permit us to make the significant changes in life.

Compassion + Awareness = Mindfulness

Drop that rock! If the boulder is that heavy, do not pick it up.

Everything up to this point is over.

Fear blocks us from our intuition and inner knowing.

Giving up all hope for a better past is forgiveness.

Healing is the application of love to where it hurts.

I can feel the vibrations of the singing bowls in my different chakras.

Judge ourselves or hold ourselves with compassion – the choice is ours.

Kundalini energy is energy resting at the base of your spine. Try the 40 Day Challenge with

Carolyn Cowen.

Look up and think bigger.

Merge the street level you and the higher level you – they can walk hand in hand.

Name it to tame it.

One way to shift from doing to being is letting go.

Ponder what from our ancestors we wish to keep and what we wish to let go of.

Question – Is it true? Can I absolutely know that it is true? What happens to me when I’m

believing in this thought? What happens when I let go of this belief?

Reset before going to the next activity.

Stones have powerful properties that help heal our chakras.

There is no place else I need to be.

Until you trust as to who you are, you are not going to open up your intuition.

Vata and Pitta present together need moisture, grounding, and denser warm food.

We have the ability to release a great deal through conscious breathwork.

X-ample” of how mice remember the shock over the cherry juice – we do this practice for our lineage.

You would be home by now if you lived in your heart.

Zen = remembering not to make things worse.


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