Meditation retreat at Lake Baikal
Recently, I went to Siberia's Lake Baikal for a meditation retreat, and it was such a journey! Insights, realisations and coming back to the body, body, body.... I realised there that the more we are in the body, the more aware we are, the more alive we are, the more we can see the beauty around us. There is no life except from life in our body. When we are in the body, we feel the beauty with our whole being, every cell of our existence. Being present IS to be in the body! So even though I already was more or less embodied quite a lot of the time, this journey made me realise the importance even more. But here I wanted to share my magical journey with YOU with photos, commentaries and insights...
On the way to lake Baikal my plane arrived at 4am and my baggage was lost, as I found out. Baggage with warm clothes, boots and all other necessities for living for 1 week in a tent on the shore of this magical lake... I got worried, anxious, angry. But then I put my ear plugs in, inflated my neck cushion and lied down on the metal chairs in the airport. I started feeling my anxiety and my worry in my body, living through it's intensity and discomfort. I was lying there until this intensity dissolved and I started feeling waves of energy and subtle vibrations all over my body.
Suddenly the anxiety and worry was gone. And I felt like laughing. I realised how comical this situation is. And how grateful I am for at least takings socks out from the suitcase in moscow, so I was wearing warm socks and havayanas, ear plugs from noise and a neck cushion, and I felt warm, cosy and comfortable!!!! By luggage arrived with the next plane 7 hours later! How great is that? ))
The top photo is Lake Baikal on Island Ol'chon at 5am each morning. I liveed in a tent and woke up at 4.30, to have my glass of hot water, do some yoga and mediate. And it's amazing to meditate in the open air with this view. We live in a naked part of Baikal, it's called Steppe in Russian and there is lots of space, wind and peacefulness. I was not very happy at first as I am a tree person and I love forests, this naked land was a little bit shocking to me. But then I got used to it and came to see it's tremendous beauty and strength. No wonder it is an island of shamans and warriors, they gain their power from this land and the lake. So I fell in LOVE with it.
This little HEART SHAPED lake on the island Ol'chon is called Nuru Nur and they say it's even older than Baikal. Legends say that Chingiz Khan used to dip in it to get blessed before his voyages, and I simply hope that through swimming in it my heart opened a bit more. There is a possibility as the teacher monk from Thailand was concentrating on the heart a lot. Fingers crossed.
Here I am in that Heart Shaped lake. The water was not that cold actually, even warmer than in Baikal itself. The was a lot of algae at the bottom, which lovingly coated my feet. The legend also says, that whoever swims in this little lake will meet their second half moon after. :) When I came out I had the strongest and most powerful meditation on its bank. Something definitely shifted in my perception, and the whole body was vibrating with joy.
Our retreat was not as strict as usual vipassana retreats are. Majority of participants woke up just before breakfast and morning meditation (which is understandable as it was freezing before sunrise!). But there were a few who woke up almost every morning at 4 or 5 am and did some exercises, meditation and swam in the cold waters of Baikal. Lesha was one of them. I called him my morning routine partner even though we went about our own things in silence. But it was always nice to get up, go to the kitchen to have some hot water and find him meditating like this on most mornings. It made me smile and warmed my heart.
Vipassana meditation retreat is usually associated with silence and slow, mindful movements and actions. But at our retreat in Lake Baikal this summer we didn't really follow these guidelines. Moreover, on the last day we did an amazing dancing session. It was mindful, by the way Right on the shore of Baikal on it sacred land. Katia created a magical playlist, which, together with the energy of the land and lake, created a perfect energy.
Personally, I don't go dancing often. And for me to dance it has to be the right music, the right people, the right vibe. But there I just could not stop. My body was doing all the movements, I was just watching it, sometimes even shocked by its crazy moves, sometimes surprised by their mellowness. Goosebumps invaded my body and were rushing from top to bottom and back. It almost felt like the earth, and music, and people all supported me in this dance. And I gave my all 100% to it.
There are dances like this in London, conscious dance sessions without alcohol, drugs and in the evenings. And I feel something got awakened in me on that day, on that shore. My body showed me how important it is for it to dance.
And of course, meditation retreat without green tea is not a retreat!!! I didn't take all my teapots and tea utensils with me to the meditation retreat in lake Baikal in Siberia, where I was spending 10 days with the amazing company of people and amazing nature. But every morning after morning meditation I sat down and took a lot of cups with hot water, poured it from one cup to another, brewed the tea with me counting the seconds instead of the timer and sending love to the tea and to the person who I was preparing it for. The tea tasteed amazingly well with the local water and the energy of it is intensified in this magical place. Which we needed to stay awake and meditate every single moment of the day. I loveed this place here. Every day I felt I was recharged more and more with the energy of this land and water. Back to the body. Back to my true self.