By: Lucas Runge of Marketing Zen Group
If I think about my own experiences with yoga, how I stumbled upon eastern religions and the like, it started with pain and a strong pre-existing spiritual mechanism. I was born and raised religious Christian but when I came faced situations that hadn’t even been close to covered by my pastor or parents, I was required to search elsewhere. This period was a multi-faceted disillusionment, and yogic exercise was a huge help. I believe, as was in my case, the combination of disillusionment and pain is often a predecessor of growth.
In “Advertising in America: The First Two Hundred Years,” Charles Goodrumdiscusses the two major periods of 20th century disillusionment: the 20’s and the 60’s. Both are attributed to the horrendous amount of sufferingof the world wars they followed (although it took a few years for the latter period to transform).Seeing as the 80’s are commonly seen as spiritually bankrupt, the 90’s as a realization and response to this emptiness, maybe the past ten years have also been some sort of American disillusionment followed by newfound spirituality. I mean, look at all the yoga pants!
Within such new spirituality, learning the facets of inner peace practice can be intimidating. For instance: say you want to try Buddhism: well there are at least four sects to choose from. Do you want to find peace as a means to help others? That’s Mahayana. Do you believe there should be inherent laws for such a journey, like right speech, diet, and accepted levels of drunkenness? Then try Theravada. Are you an individually minded person that believes spirituality is about working with the mind instead of defeating it? Then you should start with Zen. And to complicate things: certain sects seeking inner peace have been accused of being corrupt and for-profit only i.e. there is tension amongst the groups and sometimes the information you hear can be quite biased.
Yeah, things get tricky real fast, and learning all this stuff on your own can breed more helplessness than help. It requires effort to find the right practice and even more effort in practicing this practice. A pattern I’ve experienced, and I’m assuming many of you relate, is to occasionally have something in life spark my recommitment to spirituality, I get into it for a while, and then the practice slowly dies like a long distant relationship. I’m assuming many readers understand this spiritual yo-yo: first you’re under the water, then you’re coughing, then you’re breathing fresh air, then there’s a cramp ad nauseum.
The annoyance of this back and forth is why I recommend going on a yoga retreat: it’s like a peaceful, spiritual boot camp: spiritually rigorous in a way that often captures some of the pain that I mentioned earlier. As such, it can be a life refresher of all refreshers; what you’d always hoped a vacation would be but never was. It can be, and often is, a rekindling of the connection with yourself and the universe. It’s truly refreshing and unique. Don’t pass up an opportunity like this.
Aside from a retreat, here are my recommended spots. Some of them are obvious (like nature is sort of a “duh”) but others are more chosen for the unusual spiritual experience they bring (even if it is unpleasant).
- Tip of a mountain (or probably a hill if you’re from the Midwest *sigh)
- Top of a building (the sneakiness occasionally required to get up there makes things fun)
- In a tree(maybe strap yourself in…)
- In the winter cold
- Near a physical waste plant (to overcome the stench)
- Pool (under the water perhaps)
- Train (preferably inside)
- Busy sidewalk with no shirt on
- Sidewalk in suburbs
- At work
- Wal-Mart in aHalloween costume (overcome judgmental looks)
- In front of TV (convenience)
- Graveyard (at night if you’re much more brave than I)
- Outer Space (if you have 250k to give to Virgin Mobile)
- Museum (find a painting or a sculpture that zings you and yogatize in front of it)
- On an isolated county road at dawn
- Former war zone
About Lucas Runge
Lucas is a creative content crafter at the Marketing Zen Group and Samahita Retreat.. As a UW Madison Graduate with high aspirations, he excels at composing content from the soul, striking a balance between emotionally insightful and goofily charming. In his free time, the former Badger enjoys gaming, hockey, and massages. Follow him @LucasRunge