Warning* This is a long post!
I survived retreat!!!! I still want to scream this out, even though retreat finished 4 days ago and I’m typing this on the plane ride back to Sydney.
I am still so excited and overwhelmed by the retreat experience. Firstly, it means that I am very close to graduating from my Holy Yoga Instructor training. Secondly, the retreat was an experience of a lifetime that I would recommend EVERYONE to try. Lastly, and most importantly, I now know what it means to spend dedicated time with our Heavenly Father above.
I came out of retreat, refreshed, rejuvenated and as my small group leader described, “softened” by the Holy Spirit.
This is the first time I have ever been described to radiate ‘SON-shine’. Shining Jesus’ warmth and light all over, as I surrendered and allowed the Holy Spirit to fill me.
Is retreat what I had expected? No. It was far beyond what I had imagined. The experience was far bigger, better, more intense, than I had imagined.
When I arrived at Minneapolis airport, it wasn’t difficult to spot the group of Holy Yoga sisters. A bunch of somewhat nervous ladies chatting away, all with yoga mats sticking out of their luggage. I checked my name off and already knew who I was assigned a dorm with. They were mostly my sisters from the life group that we have been attending in the past 6 weeks. Naturally, my first reaction was to find these sisters whom I knew a thing or two about already. I was the only Asian there and I think everybody was interested in the Asian lady who flew all the way from Australia for this 😜. So, it didn’t take long for my life group sisters and I to be united. Immediately, I felt a sense of relief. An overwhelming sense of grace from God. He brought me here safely, to be here with His daughters so that together, we may start ministering His Word. Wow…
We arrived at the conference centre that we were going to be spending the next 5 days together in. It was beautiful. Greenery, serene with crosses planted everywhere to remind us of Christ who died for us. The first check in was our room. And yes, that was shock factor one. Eight of us sisters were assigned to one room. You got it! ONE ROOM with beds lined up side by side and bunks. No partitioning, no personal space. Communal bathrooms were also a hallway walk away from our dorm, which means, no rolling into the bathroom in the middle of the night. In fact, we soon learnt that night trips to the bathroom would mean sneaking out like a mouse with a room full of cats, walking down a hallway into a bathroom with bright lights. By the time you finished your toilet trip and sneak back into bed, you would be wide awake.
Here we were all humbled. We need nothing but Jesus. No, seriously.…. Really, how blessed are we that we already have nice beds to snuggle in at the end of the day! It really grounded me and confronted me with my ridiculous sense of entitlement.
Our daily schedule started at 6.15am. To think that was going to be my biggest struggle was naïve. No, we didn’t start our day with nice and relaxing breakfast. Instead, we did something better. We spent time with the Lord. One hour, first thing, every morning. Oh how I’ve learnt how dear this time was. I found this part of retreat to be the most powerful, awakening and restoring for me. Leading up to retreat and as required by the immersion program, I had been meditating a lot. I’ve learnt that there is meditating…and then, there is MEDITATING. Laying there with 60 other sisters in the chapel facing the wilderness, the Holy Spirit filled the room. If I had to, you could even smell the warm, sweet aroma of the Holy Spirit.
Each day, there would be tears. Tears of comfort, tears of joy, tears of relief, tears of security, tears of repentance, tears of confessions. Tears that only the Holy Spirit can draw out from you.
I vividly remember spending time with Jesus. He was like a friend, a brother. He gave me a pat on the back, squeezed my shoulders with a gentle massage even…sat next to me and just chatted.
Another day, I threw myself into the embrace of our Heavenly Father. He is Big. Enormous, in fact. He is all light and He told me He yearned to spend time with me. I realised how hurtful it was for Him in the past when I would say, ‘It’s hard to find time sometimes’ or ‘After all of this is done, then I’ll sit down with You.’ Is not talking to Abba more important than the laundry? Than the dishes? Than painting my nails? Oh Abba, how I fall at your feet and weep for my guilt and shame. I now understand and yearn for this unadulterated time with my Abba, too. I leave retreat having a genuine change in my perspective and I pray that I am changed forever.
Following our meditation session would be worship and yoga all awhile still in fasting. Here, we collectively praise and glorify our Father. Here, I’ve learnt that our mind and body is so much more capable than what we think. I always believed that I could not do yoga before breakfast, that my body would not be able to cope. Wrong. I leave retreat with yet again, another take away: “I can totally praise and worship on the mat without food.”
We were served nutritious food but not always what you wanted to eat. We didn’t get the wide selection that we would if we were to plan our own meals or pick the brunch of our choice. Don’t get me wrong, the food was great but you eat what you are given. Now, this, was another realisation for me.
By now, I have landed on a true understanding and belief that, “You do not NEED anything other than the basic essentials that give us life and breath. In fact, the only thing you NEED is Jesus, for He is faithful and He will provide.”
By the 3rd day of retreat, I realised how very, very blessed I am. Actually, that’s an understatement. I am SPOILT to the n-th degree. Everything that I have is a luxury.
I had brought along all my painkillers in fear of my migraine attacks, preparing for the early morning, sleep deprivation and the physical load on the body with all the yoga practise. This is without even knowing the sleeping conditions (sharing bunks with 7 other women). Yet, God provides. Not for a second during my whole trip did I feel any sort of migraine.
For the whole 4 nights I was at retreat, I slept well. I awoke rejuvenated and looking forward to spend time with Him.
I also built some new and stronger-than-ever friendships with my fellow roommates whom I will call sisters-from-another-Mister (a term that was founded by one!) . We shared testimonies with one another; we saw each of our darkest times and how faithful God was to shine light through our darkest times in life. The bond that us sisters shared is, and will forever be, the strongest of friendships. And I am so grateful that God blessed me with them.
Apart from the spiritual growth of retreat, the knowledge I gained on Anatomy, Yoga and the Scriptures was jaw-dropping. Who would have thought that yogi’s are physicians? I learnt more about the human body, its intricate systems and functions, the muscular skeletal structure than I did with my years of science study throughout school and even my first year of Medical Science in University. I’ve heard fellow sisters who are already trained yoga instructors compare this course to theirs and agree this is one of a kind. World class. So, for those looking for an all-rounded yoga instructor course, this IS the one for you.
Lastly, I wanted to close this post with saying that I walked away a new person. God has relieved some of the most deep-seated issues I’ve had. I surrendered everything to Him and I was renewed.
1 Peter 1:24-25, The Message Bible:
“Now that you’ve cleaned up your lives by following the truth, love one another as if your lives depended on it. Your new life is not like your old life. Your old birth came from mortal sperm; your new birth comes from God’s living Word. Just think: a life conceived by God himself! That’s why the prophet said,
The old life is a grass life,
its beauty as short-lived as wildflowers;
Grass dries up, flowers droop,
God’s Word goes on and on forever.
This is the Word that conceived the new life in you.”