The Lightness Of Being
Sometimes it just hits you. You sit up – dead straight – in bed with that idea, the one you have been waiting for for so long. Your eyes are open, your mind is clear and you just know. You know the sentence you want to open that article with, the one you have been bleeding over for days; you are struck – so suddenly – with such clarity. More often than not, this is brought on by something: a foreign place, something you’ve read, someone you’ve met. It’s that trigger of something inside you; that feeling of being so wide-awake it almost hurts: everything is just so shiny and so new. But sometimes, you can’t wait for it to come. You go surfing in Morocco, enrol in a yoga retreat in Bali or even just spend some time – all by yourself – watching the ocean. You have to seek it out, to find the place that will give you that turn of phrase, that novel, that revelation, whatever that one thing is for you – whether you know you want it yet or not. Think ashrams, yoga, meditation, health retreats, somewhere, anywhere you can – completely – immerse yourself. Be it to find inspiration or to hold onto it.
A retreat, then, is not always an escape; sometimes, it’s an advance. A moving forward of sorts, a wake-up call, a letting go of all that should have been lost to you. Cynthia Morgan is an LA-based hypnotherapist who hosts regular workshops in Hollywood. Hypnotherapy, Morgan explains, is a method of opening up the subconscious mind, of waking up. There are no dramatically swinging watches; you are not at someone’s mercy in a Sleeping Beauty-style state. “I consider myself a de-hypnotherapist because we are all already hypnotised,” she says. “Our minds are programmed with false ideas and mistruths about ourselves, our capabilities, other people, the world. My job is to deprogram people of their false beliefs, many of which are very old ideas that have gotten stuck on repeat, so to speak, in their mind and are now detrimentally affecting their wellbeing, their potential, their relationships, or their health.”
Morgan talks of the importance of being ‘awake’, of being conscious. It’s the past – all the everyday baggage you carry – that keeps you asleep, weighs you down. She says you need to find a release from whatever you’ve put in place to hold you back; be it your own beliefs or obstacles that you so painstakingly constructed to keep you in that safe zone. Morgan has worked with thousands of people and of them, she’s found most hold onto (at least) one of five core negative self-thoughts. These stop you from waking up and seeing what’s around you – your potential included – for what it really is: I am bad, I am not good enough, I am unlovable, I am not worthy, and I am alone. “The truth is the past is over. It doesn’t exist except in your mind. The events of the past don’t have to affect you unless you decide to bring it into your present. Healing is in the present.”
Healing is that light feeling, that found inspiration, the feeling of so right you should have known all along. To heal, Morgan says, you need a still mind. No wonder retreats – so far cut-off from the send/receive button and other everyday distractions – are on the rise. “When your mind is busy and chattering and worried about the future or focused on the past, it is impossible to find peace. You have to find a way to go within.” Meditation, says Morgan, is probably the most efficient and effective way. Hypnotherapy, she adds, is another way.
“If you’ve found a peace that is not contingent on external circumstances, you are awake,” Morgan explains. “If your peace is affected by anything outside of yourself, you are asleep.” Mum et al., then, were right – it really is what’s on the inside that counts: you are not the clothes you wear, nor the contents of your wallet. You are just you. This belief, though, can be far from unwavering. You can be so sure in yourself, so inspired, and then all of a sudden your whole happiness depends on that Isabel Marant jacket. Or so you tell yourself.
“There are degrees to being awake,” says Morgan. “Some are more awake than others. But it doesn’t mean they are always awake. And no one is ever totally asleep. Everyone at some time or another has gotten a glimpse of what it’s like to be awake, even if for a fleeting moment.” So how do you hold onto that inspiration, that clarity that comes with having your eyes wide open? “Reprioritise,” says Morgan. “Even if you don’t know how to meditate, just repeat the word ‘peace’ in your mind for five minutes a day. A little bit of effort has a mighty force behind it. You will notice the effects immediately.”
If you can’t find the space to be still, you can seek it out. Be Genki’s founder, Samantha Sample, is a veteran of sorts when it comes to retreats: she’s done pretty much every retreat we researched and more. It was at Vipassana – a 10-day silence and meditation retreat in Sydney’s Blue Mountains – where Sample first truly found that stillness, that is, no thought at all. It was then that she came up with the concept for her brand. Sample says your head all too often interferes with what “your star” or your gut is trying to tell you; that your alarm went off long ago but you are set to snooze: you need to leave the boy you know is no good for you, to start something new, or take the trip that will give you the inspiration you need. It’s about losing the prescriptives for the instinctives. “When I was trying to think of nothing, the whole concept of Be Genki came forward in my mind,” says Sample. “I wasn’t trying to start a business, I was just visualising the colours while I lay on the grass after a lunch one day.”
This doesn’t mean that ‘waking up’ is always such a pleasant experience. We all have days when getting out of bed seems near-impossible. At a retreat centring on colour education just outside of London – Dev-Aura – Sample experienced quite the purge. “I was so sick; I threw up air for half-an-hour. I was getting rid of an emotional something or other that I was holding from a past relationship. I was letting that go, opening up other possibilities.” The next morning, Sample “was just totally blissed out and just beyond happy and beyond anything”.
People often talk about feeling ‘lighter’ post an awakening. Think of that heavy feeling of sleeping too long: you feel sick, lethargic. When people go to a retreat, they feel weighed down and stressed and heavy. They want to check that baggage, to shed that weight (sometimes, literally). This happened to Sample: post break-up, she immersed herself in energy clearing and, while she was the same weight on the scales, her jeans no longer fit.
“I bought a belt and I had to get one, two, three, four holes put in in the space of a week. I didn’t understand what was happening. How is that real or how is that possible? I don’t know. But it’s true, it happened. I had to get new jeans. Bizarre.”