by Jackson Hart
It was 8 AM in the forest hall. The walls and floor of the hall are made of earth and the room glows dark orange as the light passes through the teak trees into the windows. A tranquil woman sits with perfect posture in front of the Buddha statue. She spoke softly, yet with strength:
“Taking a step toward letting go of the past can be scary. You don’t know what’s on the other side. You know what you are stepping away from, but there is a moment after stepping, before the next foothold becomes apparent, where you just have to wait and trust that you are exactly where you are meant to be”.
This is Kim Roberts. She has a Masters in Psychology and trained as a Contemplative Psychotherapist. She has practiced in Ashtanga Yoga and meditation for over 22 years, and spent a year studying yoga under Pattabhi Jois in Mysore, India. Needless to say, when it comes to being a spiritual teacher, Kim is the real deal. She is also a frequent visitor at the New Life Foundation.
Kim was hosting her 4-day retreat “Aligning With Your Life’s Purpose: Learning To Stay Present With Change”. The retreat aimed to help people learn skills to gracefully negotiate life transitions, let go of painful experiences or feelings and accept change. Each day started with 6 AM yoga and guided mediation, and was followed by a hybrid curriculum of sitting and walking meditations, gentle yoga asana, periods of silence, group discussions and creative writing exercises.
Reena, one of the New Life community members, had the following to share about the retreat:
So Reena, what was your inspiration for joining Kim’s Retreat?
I wanted to deepen my knowledge of yoga, my knowledge of meditation and explore what it meant to do creative writing. I’ve done some writing before, but I haven’t done it enough and every time that I have done it I found it to be a emotional and therapeutic and release. I get things out that surprise me, that I didn’t know that I was holding onto.
The retreat was centered around the idea of your life’s purpose. After completing the retreat do you have a better understanding of what your purpose may be?
I feel I am more confident about the idea of taking my life in a different direction. I now believe that I should have a plan but that I shouldn’t be so rigid with it because every time I’ve done that in the past it hasn’t gone the way it was “supposed to go”.
The retreat was more about exploring those ideas that I had about my purpose and seeing if what came during the retreat aligned with what I was expecting to do going forward. For me it was a confirmation. It gave me a lot more self confidence and a lot more knowing that what I’m planning in life is the right thing for me.
Do you feel that there is something that you have discovered about yourself that you weren’t aware of before the retreat?
I learned that I can sit through anxious feelings and get past them. Just being at New Life and at the retreat I’ve had a lot of anxious feelings and social anxiety. I’ve learned that its all not as bad as I think it is and that if you just sit with the pain and whatever comes up and just observe it and not put too much emphasis on it and not let it override what you are trying to do then its not as bad as it seems once you’ve done whatever you want to do. I think that’s a revelation for me personally.
I’ve also learned that I have a lot more to offer to the world that I thought I did and that I just need to accept who I am and that its OK to be who you are.
Is there something in particular that you feel you gained from the creative writing process?
I learned to let go. You go into the writing thinking that you are only going to be writing a couple of lines so you limit yourself before you even started, so its the mind that is limiting you. You’re telling yourself that you can’t do this, that you can’t write an essay but when you actually start and you just let yourself go you’ll surprise yourself. That was a big lesson, not just for writing but for anything. Just let it be and see what happens because you may surprise yourself and achieve great things.