I attended my first Pachamama Retreat this past November in San Diego. I came to the retreat ready to turn towards and reconcile hurts, trauma, shame, and wounding from my past. For years now, I have held the growing awareness that my past, unintegrated trauma was interfering with my ability to regulate my nervous system. Anxiety, depression, chronic pain, isolation, shame, and confusion (to name a few slight challenges 😉), were ‘symptoms’ and with age and life stress, were only getting more complicated and harder to navigate.
Doing deep, personal growth work is never easy. I work in the helping profession and my days are dedicated to helping folks work through their trauma, grief, pain, loss, etc. I love the work I do. And, I am also just another human who resides in an aging body and with this aging process, my soul (aka life force, True Self, Authentic Self, whatever you would like to call this highest part of our ‘Self’) is pulled to reconcile past hurts and pain in hopes of creating a ‘better life’ for not only myself, but for my daughters and the generations to come. Like many people, I hold so much inside of me that, at times, I freeze, shut down and struggle to open and share. Just like my clients-- I, too, sometimes grasp so tightly to a past narrative. Grasping (also knowing as fear) is the very thing that continues to keep me caged or ‘stuck’ and repeating the patterns that no longer serve me. The thing that I cognitively know about the cage is that it is not actually locked, that I can simply push the door open and step out. The retreats I have so far participated in have help me mobilize, to take those steps and to leave the cage that I have been in for quite some time.
I am no stranger to loss, my parents died in an accident in my early 20s and a string of losses and other challenges followed me further for the next 15 years. In a nutshell, when people ask me about ‘what do I know about trauma or loss?’ my response is very simple, “More than I care to remember or can speak aloud to. But what I can share is I have lost many people whom I have loved most in this lifetime and all in the blink of an eye.”
I am now in my mid-forties, and I can see how my parent’s death alone thwarted me into a realm I was not yet prepared to navigate nor did I have the skills or coping strategies back then. Even though I have empathy for my younger self who went through these hardships, the wear on my nervous system and these symptoms were weighing me down significantly.
My intention when I went to the Pachamama Retreat in November was clear-- to be as fearless as possible and delve into the depths of my own being in hopes for more clarity and peace in my heart. Specifically, in my first retreat, I held the intention to reconcile masculine wounding. The Universe listened. Chelsea and Donny held a beautiful space where I felt safe and able to work through my initial jitters of being at this type of a retreat. As a result, being able to stay connected to why I was at the retreat created an opening where I could remember who I am at my core, to connect with various parts of myself that seemingly got lost along the way.
Upon leaving the retreat in November, I knew one thing was true, integration was paramount. I left the November retreat feeling raw, fragmented, and blown open. This lasted for most of the month. Post retreat, I micro-dosed and did Sananga daily for one month. I utilized resources in my toolbox (i.e., exercise, mindfulness, increased rest, time in nature) because the weeks that followed were in fact, tough emotionally. Every day felt uncomfortable, and I knew to not turn back and fall into old patterns, but I also knew to not make any drastic, big changes in my life as well. I kept using my resources—rest, time in nature, exercise, time with my family and animals, a daily practice of rituals and mindfulness, stepping into connection with self or others rather than isolating, etc. After a handful of weeks, the fog started to lift, and I felt much more integrated.
I know I have more integration to do but for now, the changes I am seeing look like this: I am clearer, the depression has lifted, I am going to bed earlier and waking up early enough to meditate and run, I am catching up on things I had fallen behind on and I am setting new intentions and goals for myself. My ability to stay regulated through long, stressful days is better than several months ago. Thank you, Pachamama. Sending deep gratitude and love.