I just returned home from an inspiring and wonderful wellness retreat. The “Forever Young Health & Wellness” event is an all day experience that nourishes the mind, body, and spirit. Along with hundreds of like minded individuals, all on the path of learning how to have a happier, healthier mind, body, and spirit, I feel quite content with my day and for this journey I have been on. What makes this experience even better than my first “Forever Young” I attended in 2012, was that I was able to share it with my younger sister, Michelle. It is another cherished memory we have and I am so glad she took the day to put her own needs first while spending time with me.
The day was full of inspirational speakers, cooking classes, dance fusion, and Pilates, yoga and meditation classes. Our day started with a wonderful Yoga Therapy class taught by John Vitarelli. We focused on the connection between the breath and the movements of Ashtanga Yoga. John’s gentle demeanor and kind, encouraging voice made the start of our event a memorable one. My sister has been a fan of his “On-Demand” videos, but it was the first time I had practiced with him. I enjoyed being under the guidance and direction of someone new. Hearing his unfamiliar voice that radiated warmth and compassion made me feel as if I practiced with him forever. The practice primarily consisted of breath work, which I love, so it was a beautiful experience. It was also a nice reminder that we have our breath at our fingertips, and it is something we can always count in. John’s class was a highlight of the day, but watching my sister in the presence of an instructor she admires and the joy on her face was the true gift.
Another highlight, was listening to John’s wife, Diana, speak about “Beauty-An Inside Job”. Teaching from the great book on yoga, the Yoga Sutras, her talk was about cultivating the true source of attractiveness and attraction-inner peace. As we age, we lose our outer beauty, but by the practice of meditation we radiate our inner beauty and continue to shine that light from within. When we begin to meditate we start to notice all the beautiful individuals that make up this world-every being is beautiful. Diana talked specifically about “Transcendental Meditation” and taught the group the common mantra, “So Ham”. She said that the idea of meditation is not to “quiet the mind” or “stop the thoughts” but to allow all those thoughts to move around and come out of the knotted up brain. She described it as de-cluttering of the brain. Diana said that the times when we are present in the mantra, or breath, we hit the “pause button”. For just that moment we can be, and those moments make mediation so beneficial. Diana ended with a 20 minute mediation-it was fantastic!!!! My sister did not attend this lecture, she chose another instead, but we were so excited to teach each other what we both had learned, sharing in mutual enthusiasm.
The event concluded with a powerful talk on “Positive Psychology: The Science of Happiness” by Tal Ben Shahar. Michelle and I both left there feeling empowered, invigorated, and happy. The theme I kept hearing today was if you want to make a change you have to make it a ritual. If we want to be happy, we can be, it’s at our fingertips, we choose how we feel every single moment, we are in charge. But what I got most from today, was the joy of connecting. It was so much more fun to share this experience with a loved one. I am content being alone; I enjoy doing things on my own, and value my “me-time”. But being able to share outings like these, with the people I cherish most, turning my “me-time” into “us-time” and connecting on an intimate level, is what makes me most happy.
“Happiness is only real when shared.” ~Anonymous