I have a new tradition. I suppose it became a tradition this year, because I started it last year. All great traditions have to start some where, some time! Every year, when my kids are on vacation with their Dad, I take myself on a week-long spiritual retreat. I’m just now starting to understand what that really means. It is often spent exploring my inner-self through silent meditation, where I can be alone and literally “retreat” into myself. It’s a precious uninterrupted time when I can simply be my most authentic self and connect deeply with who I am as a soul. A spiritual retreat is also about connecting to community, such as a group of like-minded individuals whom I may have never met before, or a community of nature: the trees, the ocean, the mountains, including all the animals that choose to present themselves to me. On this year’s retreat I experienced all three connections. I experienced a connection to myself, a connection to my human community, and a connection to the natural world. Each experience of connection provided me with something different, a unique way to heal my wounds, to cleanse my thoughts, to lift my heart, and to inspire and restore my mind, body and spirit. Although my week was filled with amazing people, places and creatures, one connection in particular stands out above the rest. It happened at a very unique place and involved an eye-to-eye connection with a bobcat.
I’ll start with the place… Sunburst Sanctuary. Founded in 1969 by the late Norman Paulsen, Sunburst Sanctuary is a utopia nestled in the hills north of Santa Barbara, California. A small community of people there farm the land and live in harmony together guided by the principles found in the spiritual teaching of Paramahansa Yogananda. Many of the same people who first started the community still live there today. Everyone was truly welcoming and kind to me. It was evident that members had been working together for many years. No one person was in charge. Some people who had special talents were focused in certain areas, but when it came to delivering the programming and teachings, it was like everyone took turns. Each individual had a time to shine. Continue reading