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A Kindergarten for adults, an Asylum for the healing, an Alternate reality, a Hole in the matrix, a Journey back to the soul.

The first few days…
The practices are tiring. Breathing intentionally is no different from a workout. It requires focus – on the inhale, exhale and the body sensations. The sound of this is so counterintuitive given how automatic our breathing is.

During the first 48 hours, my body was clearly exhausted. It craved rest and I kept on falling asleep during relaxation sessions. In, out, in, out of consciousness. The facilitators had mentioned this was expected especially after travel.

For those of us used to stimulants, fatigue hit hard. In fact, stimulants, especially caffeine, nicotine, alcohol and sugar, alter the body’s natural endocrine system and mask whatever the body is naturally inclined to feel. When taken away, the body will need to re-adjust to its normal operation and the transition is often accompanied by headache and discomfort. I personally experienced coffee withdrawal, which went away on day 3.

During our first breath-work practice, we all lied in a fort of yoga bolsters and cushions. Our instructors guided us through vivation, drawing air in through my mouth and immediately expelling it with a sigh in a circular pattern. Within fifteen minutes, I felt numbness in my hands which quickly made its journey across my body.

Explore subtle changes in your body. Inhale through the strongest emotion. Enjoy the moment as much as you can.

All you have to do is trust the process and keep breathing. Energy vibrated through me, I was shaking, felt so alive. Flowing in, out and sideways. I experienced numbness, gratitude, joy, sadness, grief, anger, love, hurt and hope. I can’t say when but I remember passing out and waking up from deep sleep with the instructor’s angelic singing. It transported me outside my body, outside this world: a highway to heaven.

The sun, the mountains, the iced lake and the stillness and beauty of the space we were coliving in felt dream-like. We were so far from the noise of the city, the people, the chaos… almost pushing us to question our whole society’s structure. The silence, the bathing in nature, the simplicity of our days reminded me: Why did we stop living like this? Why did our soul settle for less than what it craved?

The novelty of the environment coupled with the breath-work brought back so many buried memories. The safety we had created made me feel like a kid again, under my parents’ roof.

On our third day, the ice bath moment had come. Walking towards the ice felt like I was walking to my death row. The idea of having to withstand below zero temperature was both scary and exhilarating. This anxiety faded away as I watched the first of our group gracefully welcome the bath. One by one, we went in. Watching each other gracefully face the fear, in silence, while practicing fast and slow breathing was beautiful and empowering. We gave each other the courage and strength to completely surrender to this stressful yet beautiful experience… and even enjoy it. Acting calm under stressful circumstances builds resilience and increases equanimity: Being at peace with what is.

The day leading to the full moon
Connections grow deeper, senses awaken, the brain is increasingly neuroplastic: we are buckled up.

That night I dreamt of dying by explosion. It felt so intense and later on I understood that it was an interpretation of my repressed emotions on their way out of my system.

Nothing is good or bad.
All emotions are welcome here.

During my third vivation session, my experience reached its peak. This time, the most intense sensation was in my tingling hands.

Keep breathing. Let any desire be its own satisfaction. Let each itch be its own scratch. Let each ache be its own massage.

At some point, my hands became completely numb. They felt like crystal ice. I could almost see the blue azure color of ice. Energy was pumping in my fingers and radiating like a wave into my arms, chest and soon across my body. I started shaking from the energy fields traversing me. The deeper I breathed the more intense the electricity shocks until a full bodily discharge took over my whole being, as if the ice had exploded into water streams. Visually, it looked like a glittery explosion of colors. All my chakras had opened and then a thought hit me: There’s pleasure in existing. A feeling of pure bliss or if I must say: ecstasy had taken over my being. I remember feeling like I had left my body for some time, floating in the room.

Coming back into my body, I realized I was soaking wet. Years of emotional blockages had been released. A literal breathtaking experience.

That night, the full moon had come and all the emotions were on the table. The instructors led us to an exercise of co-regulation, dancing alone and with each other. Each had the choice to welcome or not another person into their dance. I had apprehended it as I knew I wouldn’t take rejection lightly. And I did not. Despite having danced with many, I got rejected by one and my whole system shut down. A core wound was stinged. By the end of the session, I had become extremely sensitive and protective of my emotions. Everything and everyone was triggering.
What’s it like to be you right now?

It took one person to ask me a question for deeper emotions of guilt to resurface. The wound was open. I kept crying on and on and on and on. My eyes were the most red I had seen them in so long. I was in emotional havoc.

And while we will miss what we had experienced, we shall let the longing of missing that be its own satisfaction.

Towards the end of the week…
We got into the flow. Our brains were awake, stimulant withdrawals had faded. Mediating almost four hours a day had become almost easy. We had unlocked power that was dormant in all of us, waiting to get unleashed.

As the breath-work exercises were getting more intense, so were my dreams. They were flowing like a stream. Within the end of the week I had dreamed of most of the people that had hurt me growing up, even those that I had completely forgotten about including a bully in my school bus.

During relaxation sessions, we breathed using the ujjayi technique or ocean breath and often reached theta state: a weird place between sleep and wakefulness where you are deeply relaxed yet still conscious, sometimes literally dreaming awake. I often felt like my third eye was open, which looked like a circle of beaming light between my eyes. In that theta state, the subconscious mind, rather than the conscious, takes control; which is then an ideal time to practice manifestation of our highest desire, often referred to by our facilitator as “San Calpa”.

During our last vivation session, we practiced eye gazing. Looking into other people’s eyes, I realized how every single person in the room had taught me a lesson. Some made me feel numb, sad, nervous, attacked, others triggered wounds of abandonment, rejection, and many brought joy, playfulness and lightheartedness. However, all experiences were followed by a deep sense of gratitude.

By the end of the retreat, It had felt like a decade ago since we had met. Coming out of the centre felt like I had gotten several years younger. The soil we had been working with was fertile and we were ready to depart with so much strength.