By Lauren Belcher | CBelcher@flagler.edu
Less than a year ago, I went on a journey.
It was five days of intense therapy called Hero’s Journey.
I was told to have someone drop me off at a hotel that was about 15 minutes away from my home in West Palm Beach. Pack five days worth of clothing and leave all electronics at home. No cell phone, no laptop. These days were to be spent with no distractions so you can only spend time with you and your thoughts.
There were four of us. Four people who were in desperate need for life-rehab who all found the same place. We were told that we were all meant to be here. We were with the people who would help us with our transition — no more, no less.
We had a schedule for each day. We started off with meditation and then we’d have some activity that was meant to bring out our problems. Then we’d spend the rest of the day exploring those problems. We ended each day with a light-hearted dance session.
For five days I went through the program hoping to conquer my inner demons. At the end of day 5, I felt lighter and happier. I had learned new skills to help me cope with my depression and to help strengthen my self-esteem.
The journey was the best thing I could have done for myself. I felt like nothing could ever bring me down again. I was at peace.
Unfortunately for me, I choose the wrong person to pick me up from therapy.
At the time, I was in a volatile friendship with a boy from high school. I was in denial about how destructive we were to each other so I asked him to pick me up and he surprised me with a trip to Winterhaven.
By the end of this ten-day trip, I felt like I had lost everything I gained in therapy. I was so mad at myself for making that decision and wasting such a great opportunity. I came home and felt just as lost as I did when I left for my journey.
My family tried to pull me out of it, reminding me of everything I did and all I learned in those five days, but the feeling was gone. I couldn’t find the peace anymore.
That changed a few weeks ago. The day I decided to attend a free yoga class provided by my college.
Somewhere between stretching until everything burns and breathing, I felt something. It wasn’t clear what it was until my third session. This session was taught by a friend of mine.
After an intense hour of stretching and balancing, she told us to lie down and breathe. As we were breathing, she told us to go to a safe, happy place…
I went to a meadow. There were rolling green hills as far as the eye could see. In front of me, there was a river and some trees. As I sat among the trees, I realized where I was. It was the same place I found in morning meditation in therapy. I was home again. I felt at peace.
I was so excited I could barely lie still for the rest of the breathing exercise.
I never thought I’d find something so special to me in a yoga class. Now, every time I feel stressed out or sad, I can relax and start breathing. I can close my eyes and go back to the meadow. Back to where I found my peace.