I am a big believer in the power of sacred place. I don't believe we can force divine experiences to happen. But I do think we can put ourselves in the places, and create the conditions, to welcome the sacred into our lives.
It's why my retreats are always held in universally recognized power sites.
AWAKEN is in the Guanacaste Peninsula in Costa Rica, a Blue Zone -- a place with a higher number of centenarians than average.
DREAM is on the Baja Peninsula at a center named after the female Buddhist deity Tara, which means "star" and who represents spiritual guidance.
IGNITE is in the San Luis Valley, a geographical destination of Feng Shui with over 37 spiritual sites from different traditions. The onsite mineral hot springs are known to increase metabolism, accelerate healing, soothe muscles, improve blood circulation, detoxify the body’s lymphatic system as well as fight effects of fatigue, insomnia, arthritis and a depressed immune system.
My family chose where we're living now based on the land that surrounds us. I can't help but think the natural resonance around where we place ourselves has real, and divine implications in our lives.
This week, I want to share on of my favorite stories of sacred experiencing with you. It happened to one of my clients at the IGNITE Retreat and is from my book. Many women have attested to having mystical experiences in the labyrinth at IGNITE. I even had my own there where I literally saw all of my grandparents in each of the four directions as my guides. It took my breath away.
I hope you enjoy Ella's story and that you place yourself in sacred circumstances and locations soon...
Ella originally came to my IGNITE Retreat on a work assignment. Her company was considering offering retreats for their employees, and Ella was tasked to research and experience a retreat of her own.
Ella spent many years in the fitness industry and had a life she was proud of. At fifty-seven years young, she had two grown children and a healthy relationship she valued with her second husband. Ella came to the retreat ready to take a break for herself and soak up as much information as she could for her team.
After settling into the routine of morning silence, yoga, the Heart Curriculum workshop, and regular dips into the natural hot springs, she felt herself fully relaxing. Yet as much as this was a work trip for Ella, it quickly started to feel personal too.
During her free time one day, Ella walked out to the labyrinth carrying a heavy question that had been with her for years. One she hadn’t planned on addressing here, now.
Can I forgive my ex-husband?
Ella had been married before, for twenty-three years. Her first husband was the father of her two children, and the marriage ended nearly thirteen years before. Her divorce was painful and public as a result of her husband’s illegitimate business dealings. This elicited feelings of shame, humiliation, and self- doubt for Ella. She was a strong and successful woman and mother, so she kept these feelings inside in order to protect herself and others.
But these hidden feelings prevented her from having a genuine relationship with anyone, including her second husband. Her private pain left her feeling tired, lonely, and overwhelmed. But at the opening ceremony on the first night, Ella knew this retreat would be her opportunity to peel back what had been haunting her for years if only she was open enough to do so.
As Ella began walking the labyrinth that day after a morning silence, she let the feeling of her feet touching the earth resonate in her body. Answers for thirteen years of pain started to come to her as if out of nowhere.
She was not responsible for her ex-husband’s behavior or decisions. People had tried to express their concern for her for years during their marriage, but she hadn’t been ready to hear it. And despite how excruciating her burden was, she was not meant to continue to carry this burden forever.
The phrase that came to Ella over and over again was “You have to forgive in order to live.” Ella recounts,
When I reached the center of the labyrinth I was crying big, deep, soul-cleansing sobs. I let go of the girl who had been swept off her feet by a charismatic young man who made her feel so special. I let go of the woman who tried to make everything right when his actions were inappropriate, wrong, and spirit wounding. I released the woman who kept going no matter what because if she stopped, then that would mean she was a failure at being a wife and mother. I lay down and cradled the Ella who just wanted to love her husband and be loved back and have the family she worked so hard to pull together.
After some time alone, Ella stood up with the question, “Are you ready?” she remembers, I looked to the sky, seeing the openness of the space above me. I looked toward the beautiful Colorado mountains, seeing the power and strength next to me. I felt compelled to begin walking toward my life as I released all of the hurt and anger and pain into the center of the labyrinth.
The walk to the opening of the labyrinth was quick. But because I was being moved forward, having released a massive emotional load, a lightness allowed me to float to the entrance. I knew as soon as I exited the labyrinth, I would be me again, not just a half-open shell with a strong protective cover.
Without looking back, my new journey had begun.
What an incredible story, right?
Here's to your healing. With Ella's inspiration, may you be reminded to set down the unnecessary weight you carry. And may you place yourself in sacred space soon.
*This story is from Brie's book: You Should Leave Now.