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© Sylvia Benito, 2014
22nd of December


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I did something today I have never done before. Fifteen minutes into my yoga practice, I fell asleep. I tend to live in full throttle; I am a thinker, a type A, a doer. My yoga practice reflects that tendency; it is driven and very physical. Yet today, I released a shoulder stand five beats too early, came into corpse pose, and for the rest of the class did not get back up.

As in, for the next hour.

I fell deeply asleep, and in my sleep I dreamt.

Solstice. Solstice moved me out of the doing of my mind and into the being of my body.


I woke up from my sleep and went to surf. I surfed in a most feminine way. I didn’t try to dominate or succeed. I simply met the beauty of the ocean in her winter splendor.

This retreat is led by Shiva Rea, a teacher who brings much tenderness into her yoga practice. Her practice is not one of forcing but allowing, not of thinking but of opening. Her invitation to us this week has been to simply return nourishment and rest (or, ojas in Ayurveda) to the body, so it did not even phase her that I slept through her entire class.

Our afternoon practice was on the beach at sunset. Shiva led us in several rounds of sun salutations as we watched night fall over the horizon. We prayed for world peace and personal peace. A wild dog came and sat at Shiva’s feet as we prayed. Then we all ran into the ocean in the dimming light and played absolutely like children, body surfing and singing and hugging each other in the tide.

A bonfire was lit for us as we all walked out of the ocean. Shiva asked us to find a piece of driftwood that represented something we wanted to shed on this solstice eve. My piece was rather large, I confess. We offered to the fire all these things we were ready to let go of. I did not even need find the words to describe what I was ready to release. My mind was not in charge today. Only knowing. The entire past year of my life, one full solar cycle, a year which turned my life upside down and showed me my humanity in a way that I had never been shown before. This. To the fire.

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I am grateful to this year; I am more real, and my heart is more open.
The openness of the broken heart. Even though I did not see the script that was awaiting me, I would not have written it any other way.
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I sat by the fire and watched my piece of wood burn, and as it turned to cinder I felt the space it left behind. In that empty space began to rush in the invitation of what is new- the sense of a greater accountability in my life, a greater responsibility to truth and correspondent action. And of course, sweetness. Sweetness to my children and those in my heart, and those who have yet to come in.

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Beautiful Shiva! Thank you.

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© Sylvia Benito, 2014
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