I recently returned from an amazing yoga retreat in Nathrop, Colorado.
I spent several days traveling by myself and joined a tribe of other yoginis for daily yoga sessions and was able to spend time in natural hot springs, hiked a mountain for the first time in my life at 49, and spent time offline both metaphorically and literally.
I let go of a lot of things on the retreat; I symbolically took a branch from the mountain side hike and let it go down the waterfall that we hiked to in the middle of the Browns Creek Falls mountain in the San Isabel Forest of the Rocky Mountains.
I let go of some things I felt that no longer served me, such as worry over my son, who is now 31 and who has recently completed an associate degree in engineering.
When he was 14, he was in a terrible accident and suffered a lifelong traumatic brain injury. He is an only child and I was a single mom, so it amplified my laser focus of worry throughout his life.
I have worked over the years to process my own trauma of the experience. Being a parent watching your child suffer is one of the worst pains a human being can endure. Over time it got better, but never completely went away. I remember one time when my son was a teenager, he said to me, “Mom, it’s not like it is going to happen again,” which really stuck with me. I have tried to let go of that “story” of the mom who has a child irreversibly damaged, and to shift to the story of “mother of a grown man who survived the unthinkable,” “mother of someone who endured and was resilient and went on to finish high school, finish a degree, is a grown man who pays his bills and works hard and hopefully will someday be a father himself.”
I’m excited for him to move into the next chapter of his life, but also nervous, because he has mentioned things like joining the peace corps, but I want to support him in his positive life decisions. So I let go, the best I can, to my worries.
I let go of a lot of the stress from having a full-time career outside of my wellness business, which consumes most of my life, while remaining dedicated to the work that I do.
Having a few days to really integrate it all has been important, to integrate the yoga practice and reset my own practice, to integrate the 6-mile hike and to feel accomplished for not letting myself back out of it.
After the hike was over I let my fellow hikers know it was the first mountain hike of my life and they were astonished that I had done such an intense hike for my first time out.
I think if I would have disclosed that before the hike, I would have had too many doubts in my head to feel like I should have done it, but I believed I could do it and gave myself a couple of days to acclimate to the altitude and was laser focused on self-care before and after.
I had every kind of emergency prepared for, epi pens, band aids, stocking cap with light built in, wraps, and all I ended up really needing was the sunscreen I had brought. I took my time going up the mountainside.
What I took with me from the trip was a sense of strength and rejuvenation, a spirit of peace and a profound appreciation for all I have in my life including my son and my love who shared the responsibility of taking care of all of my animals and our home while I was gone, and for my coworkers who I know had heavier workloads while I was out of the office, and for the life that I am blessed to have.
One quote that really resonated with me on the trip is, “happiness is not earned.”
We do not need to overifill our cup with obligations and accomplishments in order to have down time. To process our lives, to rejuvenate and reset and to experience joy is part of who we are as humans. It is a basic need.
Liz Jones is a certified personal trainer and has been a health and wellness professional for more than 25 years. She owns Liz Jones Wellness, LLC and Jones Wellness Ranch north of Greenville. Liz Jones can be reached at Liz@LizJones.co