A wee testimonial about my week in Mexico.
When I met Sarah (developer of Selfistry) in the small village of Molyvos, Lesvos last summer I was struck by her calming, centered presence. An immediate sense of kinship washed over me, we were connected as Nia sisters. But soon after reading parts of her book Being Selfish: My Journey from Escort to Monk to Grandmother, I’d discover we had more to share and learn from each other.
There is power in understanding and telling our own stories. How *did* I become “me”? As well, personal power arises when I am clear about who or what is driving my life. From the broad perspective that often comes through a connection to something greater than me to a close examination of all the characters that animate me over a lifetime, Sarah’s work invited me to look at myself from many angles and all its stories. Selfistry taught me a three staged approach to connecting to and loving myself and my life with an artistic and loving eye/”I”.
The Selfistry practice gave me the permission to meet all the “selves” that make up “me”. There are roles: daughter, friend, teacher, lover, activist. There are judgements: anxious, fearful, obsessive, pushy, unworthy. There are desires: sensual, sexual, powerful, safe, confident.
Through this work, the witness with a driving and deep sense of purpose is also refined. The aforementioned words describe parts of me that can be observed and witnessed separately in a beautiful twist of perspective and perception, yet they do not, when added together, necessitate the “whole” of me.
Practicing Selfisty created in me a dynamic activation of tonicity in my *whole being* by training my awareness to consciously shift through the three stages: from mindful meditation designed to connect me to a “source” or love-lifeline to a somatic movement component of trying on the “selves” that ride my bus to standing in quiet witness of all the me’s.
Through the practice I was able to create abundant space in how I respond – versus react – to all of life’s dynamic circumstances. With a simple breath I could stop, observe and choose how to proceed, a skill desperately in need of sharpening. The toggling work between the three stages gifted me a sense of ease and non-attachment that feels right for my heart, kind to my body and forgiving to my mental state.
I love how Sarah weaves her story into her teaching and connects her personal journey to how this practice was birthed. Sarah confidently and calmly guides a dynamic group of people through many different exercises and conversations and holds the space with steadfastness and clarity. In addition to the specific Selfistry practice, we were lead through a variety of exercises that gave us room to experience fun, challenge, insight and self-reflection without coming off as an uncomfortable group therapy session.
I think every person I know could find value in spending time with this work. My mother, a bestie – or two, and my colleagues all seem like great fits. There’s something reassuring about having a safe space to address the monkey-mind/busy-body outside of, and not on, a leather doctor’s couch.
The past week was like no other retreat I’ve participated in before. I appreciated the focused “work” involved. The retreats I generally have chosen in the past have been more about escape, play, joy and occasionally a tinge of risk-taking. I usually only take “Vacation Erin” on retreat. But this retreat, literally, chose me and it included this beautiful practice that pushed my perspectives and challenged my assumptions about myself and others; it also helped me tap into my connection to something greater than me. It has given me immediate tools to use at home and work.
I would definitely spend focused time at a retreat in this practice again. I fantasize about one day facilitating this work in my community. Also, an itinerary that handled the usual quotidian necessities (read: meal prep/planning) added to a gorgeous natural setting (read: sand, water, palm trees) gave us ample room for being creative heart–storming witnesses of our lives. I am touched and inspired by the lingering sense of curiosity, liberation and creativity that was nurtured over the past week. A simple phrase to sum up my Selfistry week at Mare de Jade? Moved – from scared to sacred.
For more information about Sarah and her work, Selfistry, visit https://selfistry.com/.