There are a thousand ways to kneel and kiss the ground.
— Rumi

It has been an interesting endeavor to prepare for yoga retreat on abundance in a country that is facing a collapsed economy and full-blown humanitarian crisis. Clearly, this isn’t something I really considered when choosing the theme for this retreat. And I don’t intend to undermine the seriousness of the situation here, by any means, but I do appreciate how it is forcing me to look at the nature of abundance in an entirely different way.

In fact, I am about to make a bold move. 

My retreat to India focused on using the tools of Tantra, particularly, the power of intention, to harness desire to dharma and create a life that aligns who you are with what you want. And I created a 60-paged workbook to support the endeavor (sorry, guys). 

So, in recent weeks, I began to follow similar suit in preparing for my Greece retreat. I knew I wasn’t going to create an excessive workbook again, but I began to study deep into a yogic perspective on abundance. I began to look at the kosha model and the four desires (dharma, kama, artha and moksha) for ways to thrive at every level according to the Vedic tradition. 

I didn’t get very far because I hit a wall. Complete lack of inspiration.

I think I did feel a bit inauthentic talking about attracting prosperity in the reality of the economic situation here. But mostly, I was bored. I was bored with what I was writing. Because it had absolutely nothing to do with my experience of Greece and the way my understanding of yoga has evolved since being here. 

So I am scrapping everything. Approximately one month before my group is coming to join me here, I am starting over. Because… authenticity first. Always. 

So here’s the realness:

I don’t do anything here. Really, though... I hardly do anything. 

When I first got here, doing nothing felt super uncomfortable. So I scheduled out my days. I woke up, walked into the village, read my book over a double espresso at Margaritari until the rock swim at 10:30am. Then I’d have another espresso after to socialize with the other women before heading back to my apartment to practice yoga. Then I’d eat. And then nap. And then swim again. And then go bug my crush in the yoghurt shop, etc, etc. 

Now I get up, find a lounge chair at the one cafe that knows how I like my coffee before I even order it, and I sit there, sometimes lie there, for hours. Like sometimes 6-8 hours. Like it’s my full-time job or something. I drink iced espresso and stare into the horizon, usually listening to rap music. Today, Tupac. Some days I don’t even take my first meal until 4pm. And you know what? I am so fucking blissful. Abundantly blissful. Like radiating sat-chit-ananda.

(I also teach yoga twice a week. But that’s it.)

It has taken me a good long while to get to this space. It took a long time to break through the deeply ingrained thought from growing up in a capitalist Protestant society that I am worthless unless I am productive. That I somehow have to prove my right to exist. And if there is one gift I want to offer my students during their time here in Greece, it is this same experience. To experience yoga as a state-of-being; not something you do. To know deeply that abundance is who you are; not something you attract. 

I messaged Brandie the other day because, since she is on the same wavelength these days, I knew she wouldn't think I was super high when I said:

“Do you think it is weird that I feel like I am manifesting some beautiful shit by just sitting here doing absolutely nothing?”

And I really fucking felt that. I felt that I was giving all that I had to the moment in front of me. And it was completely, entirely, enough. And really, what else is abundance? Other than being completely, entirely, enraptured by what you already have?

The other day I was sitting at the Flamingo Bar for hours. A woman who has become an acquaintance passed by me again four hours after seeing me in the same spot earlier.

"You are still here? Don’t you know there is a whole island to see?”

To which I wanted to reply:

“Don’t you know that there is a whole world right here in front of me?”

What about the depth and limitlessness of what’s here and now? The abundance of this moment? This view? This place? What about gazing into what is before me with the same awe, attention and devotion that I would with a still life I was attempting to extract and replicate on paper? What about what’s in front of me being totally satisfying and entirely enough?

I mentioned earlier that I teach yoga twice a week on the terrace of a bar here in Skala. The thing is, I am not allowed to advertise it. With the intensity of the economic crisis here, everyone is even more concerned than usual with the tax police coming around slapping 1,000-3,000 euro fines for improper licensing, etc. So if anyone hears about my class, it is from word-of-mouth only. And since I sit in the same spot all day, I have done a pretty shitty job of spreading the news. 

So every time I go to teach yoga, I really have no idea if anyone will come. But I go anyway. To hold space. To hold space for whoever it is the universe brings me. For whoever needs it. And, despite the fact that I have done nothing to promote myself, people show. Every time. 

And I think this is ultimately the way abundance works. It’s not about reciting affirmations or mantras to Lakshmi. It’s about showing up to the moment with enough presence to observe it. Making your presence known. And then holding space to receive. 

Or, as the Greek restaurant owner said to me my first night here, it’s about relaxing. And collecting energy for the things to come. 

You must have a room, or a certain hour or so a day, where you don’t know what was in the newspapers that morning, you don’t know who your friends are, you don’t know what you owe anybody, you don’t know what anybody owes to you. This is a place where you can simply experience and bring forth what you are and what you might be. This is the place of creative incubation. At first you may find that nothing happens there. But if you have a sacred place and use it, something eventually will happen.
— Joseph Campbell

My time in Greece has been this place of creative incubation. Where I don’t owe anything to anyone and I can just be and bring forth who I am. Where I can expand and outgrow my identities as I please without the commentary of an outside party. It has been a safe place for me to experience renewal toward something bigger, something more joyful, something more real to me and what I want out of life. Something that aligns more closely to the intrinsic state of bliss that resides inside me. 

I may not be able to give my retreat participants a summer-long hiatus in the Greek Islands. But I can give them one week. One week where they don’t owe anything to anyone. Where they don’t even owe anything to themselves. One week of practices that support and accelerate their access to that radiant, divine experience of their own innate bliss.

So, in an effort to keep my yoga career from sounding like a Manifesting 101 course by Deepak Chopra, I am shifting my exploration of abundance from one of attracting to one of being. And I’m starting over with this and only this:

SAT-CHIT-ANANDA.

EXISTENCE. CONSCIOUSNESS. BLISS.

Because, as my horoscope reminded me this morning, the good feelings can crash in from the outside world, but they’ll only make a home when there is space for them to settle in and stay.

So, friends who are coming to join me in Greece: Get ready for a deep exploration into your own bliss. Get ready for a deep experience of yourself as bliss itself. Anandamaya kosha. The bliss body. Because that’s what Greece has taught me. And that’s what I am really interested in: Bliss as a state-of-being. And finding a non-cliché, non-new agey way to encourage others to find theirs and follow it. 

See you soon!

Jessica

 

SIDENOTE: I may be doing not much of anything here. But I want to reiterate that the locals here are working incredibly hard. The Greeks are many things, but lazy is not one of them. And they have been my primary teachers on the true nature of abundance. Because they still show up, they make space, day after day, with a smile and a joyful spirit despite an incredibly fucked situation. Despite the fact that prosperity isn't in the books for anyone this year. Despite the fact that they can't do anything about this situation besides accept it and keep showing up to what is with everything they have. Their kindness and hospitality has been life-changing for me to witness and receive. And I feel incredibly lucky to be here during such a pivotal point in their history. 

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