I’m back from the yoga retreat, and if you ever feel the need to talk to a group of menopausal women about their bowel movements and digestive health, boy have I got the place for you!
From the moment we arrived, even the bumper stickers in the parking let me know that I would fit in perfectly:
On the walk from the parking lot to the main lobby, I briefly contemplated my existence, then entered the facilities. Upon entrance, I was required to sign a waiver that either released the owners from all liability or assigned over all of my worldly possessions to my spiritual leaders. but there was no time to worry about that, I was immediately off to my room to start the relaxation. My room sort of looked like this:
I emphasize that it looked only “sort of” like this, because a) the bed wasn’t made, b) the toilet was actually located down the hall, and c) there was no chair.
After the afternoon lockdown and the “all clear” signal, I headed out to attend a “moderate” afternoon yoga class, which made the class at laughing lotus look like a testosterone festival in comparison. I was surprised to learn that when you fill a room with one hundred women doing yoga, farting was completely appropriate and perhaps even encouraged. Laughing hysterically at others when it happened was decidedly not encouraged. I found that out the hard way.
After class, I went to the cafeteria for dinner. I was repeatedly told how amazing the food would be. In fact, it was one of the primary messages of the orientation meeting that I was required to attend. Our orientation leader, a bubbly young cult member, explained the many reasons why the food was heavenly and was the best part of the retreat. I was skeptical when she explained that her friend raped the bread each night. But my mom explained that I had misheard, and that friend “reiki“-ed the bread, which is a spiritual healing technique that increases the essence of the bread, but apparently not the taste.
After dinner, I broke off into my passion-finding program. I entered the room to find shoeless women sitting peacefully in a circle around candles. I won’t lie. If I ever did join a cult, it would be pretty cool to have it be one where I got to be the masculine figurehead.
To start finding our passion, we went around the circle and shared information about ourselves. This took a long time. Having never been in a sharing circle with so many women before, I quickly learned that there were only two appropriate responses when someone was sharing: 1) a long audible breathe in through my nose, or 2) an elongated mmmmmmmm sound to acknowledge that I felt it too. After about 90 minutes of sharing, nose-breating, and mmmm-ing, we agreed to a vow of silence for the rest of the evening.
I honored that vow by watching the end of the Superbowl. Oops!
As I attempted to sleep through the wafts of pachouli oils entering my room, I woke in the middle of the night to the terrifying sight of two rows of fire burning in some pattern on the front lawn.
The cult fires haunted my dreams for the rest of the night. Luckily, I had not yet sold my possessions in furtherance of the cause, because when I woke up in the morning, I quickly realized that the “cult fires” were set in the exact same pattern as the safety lights along the staircase to the parking lot.
The next morning, I returned to my group session, where my leaders read us poetry and sang to us using a harmonium, which is an instrument that I had never heard before, but is great because it completely erases your brain. My brain was then filled with lots of information, most of which I don’t remember. Please do me one favor: Never ever ring a bell near me. I have no clue what will happen when I hear one, but I am certain that it is something that I never intended to do.
After erasing our brains, we did a great exercise where we wrote down lots of information about ourselves and then crafted a six word autobiography. I was the last to share, and I scratched out my initial creation and revised it based on the circumstances. My new one read:
The only one to follow instructions.
Apparently when you are in a “safe place” it’s ok to disregard the “rules” and use as many words as you want. I was outraged. OUTRAGED. And not only that, but as I was obsessively counting the number of words others were using, people were nose-breathing and mmmm-ing in support of these autobiographies that were in blatant violation of the instructions. Some people revealed such poignant information about themselves that many group members were brought to tears. Look, I’m really happy that you reached an emotional turning point in your life, but I personally found it horribly offensive that you got to use so many more words than I did.
That’s all for now. I have to spend the rest of the day gathering my belongings so I can head back up next weekend.