Dr. Sue Morter’s Retreat (Part One)

The jungle provided a 5 a.m. wakeup call for the start of Dr. Sue Morter’s alumni retreat at The Bodhi Tree in Nosara, Costa Rica. The howler monkeys laughed when I asked for a snooze button, but their chorus led me where I needed to be at the exact right moment.

A cheerleading squad of instant friends appeared just as I began the 108-step climb to the Oceana Shala where our classes were held. The mind insisted I was not going to be able to make this climb, due to an injury and very swollen knee. My new friends suggested otherwise and kept me focused on how well I was hobbling up the stairs.

“You’re faster than we are!” one exclaimed. Love and laughter kept my focus off the knee; before I knew it, I was at the shala.

I selected a spot that provided a perfect view of the ocean and trees below, and an ability to bail on subsequent classes without being obvious. I’d made it up the stairs once but couldn’t imagine doing so again.

I also couldn’t imagine doing much, if any, yoga. But I was nevertheless quite excited for my first in-person Body Awake Yoga class.  

Although I’d been practicing Dr. Sue’s yoga and studying higher consciousness with her for several years, I had done so exclusively online. I was one of just a few in attendance who had never before been physically in her presence, or even with other members of the community. 

Hugs were long and abundant, and the vibration of the room was off the charts. I’m no stranger to the power of a high vibrational teacher and collective and knew from online classes that the energy field would be strong. But I didn’t expect it to be so powerful, I’d be physically capable of so much of the class!

Assisted also by crystal bowl and gong sound healing, and music that tapped into my body’s ancient remembrance, my knee allowed asana after asana. 

“This is impossible!” the mind thought as the body celebrated. Blissful gratitude smiled through a heart that was opening more widely by the moment. I’d been practicing various forms of yoga for decades, and while I have been extremely grateful for my teachers, classes and centers, I had never experienced such immense appreciation for the actual ability to be a yogi. That had always been a given; it was something I’d been taking for granted.

While lying on my mat, I realized it had been a long time since I’d been so present for a full shavasana. Lately, my mind had been too easily convincing me of priorities greater than the most important part of my class and day. 

When and how did Ms. Self Care become that person? I used to experience deep meditation in “corpse pose,” not kill my presence by launching so quickly back into life off the mat. As the analytical portion of my psychology-trained brain began to search for the answer, I encouraged it to be present. The why was not important. Shavasana was back and I was never going to abandon it, and myself in the process, again.

As I put my brace back on my knee, I noticed that although still quite swollen in appearance, it felt strong and completely normal. 

The retreat had only just begun and already, I had the sense that I’d already experienced the entire glorious week. Unlike a trailer that spoils a film, however, this sneak preview had only just hinted at the healing, miracles, special moments and deep transformation to come.

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