So, if you know me at all, it may come as a surprise that I needed a yoga retreat to find my “Wild Self”. As a Burner and fire spinner, I do things that some may consider to be “wild”, but I felt stuck in a rut creatively. So, when my dear friend and yoga teacher Allison Hodge introduced me to the The Wild Self I jumped at the chance.
The Wild Self is the brain-child of Gino Dante Borges, a ph.d who runs retreats, and quest walks to reintroduce oneself to their true nature. His beliefs run close to those of Joseph Campbell, the American mythologist and writer who summarized the phrase “Follow your Bliss”.
While I’m no devotee of Joseph Campbell-I have been introduced to his writings through yoga and his interpretation of the Upanishads. George Lucas actually credits Joseph Campbell as an influence for Star Wars and the Matrix was based on his theory of a monomyth as well. The idea of responding to a call to adventure was certainly appealing to me as I am currently struggling with holding onto my spiritual, creative self as I interview for jobs in a very structured, corporate world. While being broke is stressful enough-it is the fear of losing my belief in karma and common decency is even worse.
I have to admit-I was a little taken aback by Gino’s intense persona (ph.d who has a “Manifesto” listed on his page and video of him out in the wild and quotes about “let the inner animal roar”), but then I stumbled upon his video from his Burning Man experience so I figured he must be OK.
When my alarm sounded at 5:30 am Saturday morning, I was sooo tempted to bail. Even more when I looked outside to a downpour and wondered what in the hell was I doing?
Luckily, I had committed to my new friends Dan and Emile to ride together and couldn’t bail after getting cute messages from them confirming our trip to Fairfax together.
The retreat began with Allison’s sweet yoga class (thankfully INSIDE) close to The Good Earth -arguably the MOST amazing grocery store ever-Gino calls it “a Burner’s Dream”.
Then, we made our way into the wilderness along with an amazing drummer/ musician into a clearing where Gino had us build a lean-to for shelter. Then our amazing musician Vlad Cardema set up his instruments (didgeridoo, jembe, and flute) and we were instructed to spread out.
Then Gino had us draw a circle around ourselves and draw a horizontal line signifying our ‘portal’ out of the routine and resignation that we become locked into, an outlet into our true nature. This is our chance to escape our mundane patterns and cross over the threshold where we answer the call to adventure. We creatively decorated our own circle with rocks, leaves, branches-anything around us.
The call to nature was enhanced by standing barefoot in our circles , then dancing, as Vlad amped up the beat and Gino encouraged us to sing, scream, pant, and howl. At first, everyone was hesitant and shy-until one brave soul ran up the hillside and screamed a primal scream as he slid down the hill of mud!!
After that, we all felt more open and wild! We started dancing, moving, stomping as Vlad played. It felt so open, so primal, so natural to be playful and uninhibited!
Once we slowed down and moved back to our circle, I felt exhilarated, light and unburdened. For the first time in months, I felt the weight lift off my shoulders and a lightness in my heart.
We settled back under our lean-to where we drew pictures reflecting our experience.
Then, packed up and headed back to the yoga studio where the amazing Allison taught us a sweet, heart opening yoga session that left us happy and open.
So, as 2011 begins and you set your intentions-I encourage you to check out Gino and the Wild Self!!