The Aerie Collective Urban Retreat, Toronto
4 November 2015 | BY ANDJELKA JANKOVIC | Travel
Lost, lost, but not alone anymore
Travel opens the portal to many signs you may have missed in your day-to-day back home. On a particularly rainy Toronto day, and after spending way too much money at a chic grocery store (I’m looking at you $7 packet of sweet potato chips), I rode my bike to a cozy Kensington market café just before closing time. My body was tired and wet, but really it was my spirit that needed the most tending to. I felt lost in myself. You may know this feeling – it’s like a gentle heaviness. It seems to be an oxymoron, but it’s not. It’s like nothing is wrong and yet everything is not right. Despite it’s best efforts, even my cardamom spiced almond latte (try it, it’s a thing) could not fill this intermittent emptiness.
As I looked up, a calming green poster caught my eye. A sign – literally, and a much-needed moment of synchronicity. Three days later I was sitting in a circle with thirteen people making an offering at The Aerie Collective’s Embracing Change Urban Retreat in Toronto, Canada.
The minute I stepped into Temple 23, a light-filled airy loft flooded with natural light and good vibes, my heart was at home. When the day’s schedule was laid out with a cup of chaga medicinal mushroom tea in hand, my cells were dancing with excitement. The Aerie Collective is a sisterhood of whole-hearted women who host wellness gatherings to create sparks in your life. Elle Bourgeois, Laura Sniderman and Claire Bourgeois are the kind of women I like to call ‘soul magnets’ for the instant attraction to their spirits (case in point – their dreamy Instagram).
The day unfolded like this: an energizing Vinyasa yoga class, perfectly-timed organic snacks, a seasonal eating and nutrition discussion, a moving meditation workshop and an ecstatic dance session all accompanied by a totally on-point music soundtrack.
And as all good things go – the vegan soul food (prepared by The Aerie Collective’s holistic nutritionist and chef Taylor Wild) eaten over a long table autumn harvest lunch was a highlight. Lemon, thyme and butternut squash soup with candied nuts; garbanzo brisica pancake; rainbow zucchini and carrot noodle pasta with cashew tahini sauce and edible flowers; cinnamon chia pudding and almond cacao butter truffles. Are you still with me? It was like someone telepathically heard my cravings and then made them all for me.
We all think we need a week on a beach in Hawaii or a month in a cabin in Montana to escape and realign ourselves. But the truth is – sometimes you only need one day to have an experience with like-minded people to bring you back to you.
What I Learned
- The grace of new beginnings: Starting fresh, starting over, starting again are all scary. But knowing that whatever happens – I am okay and I will be okay – is hugely comforting.
- When you look at something you can choose love or fear: Unfurling yourself from fear is a great act of self-love.
- Listen to your gut – it is calling out to you: A mindful eating exercise lead me to experience a single cranberry across several minutes of chewing. It showed me that being present with food is something I have to work on, and savoring food slowly allows your body to digest not only the meal but life better.
- The Universe presents the best possible scenario: It is so easy (actually, it’s a joke) how quickly a phone beep, distracting thought or an attention-diverting habit can steal a moment from you. I have to learn to say ‘No, this is where I am. I will not be pulled to another moment’ in order to save my sanity.
- Trust the timing of your life: An intention I have to constantly remind myself of when expectations are not met or I have to let go of things that are not meant for me . How do I know when I am trusting the timing of my life? Harvest Moon by Neil Young starts playing (like magic) – I kid you not.
I want to see you dance again – Harvest Moon, Neil Young
In the afternoon we broke out into ecstatic dance, which is basically an opportunity to free-form intuitive dance your heart out. At 3.30pm on a September day in Toronto, an unexpected hurricane of rain poured onto the atrium glass ceiling above us. An unexpected breakthrough happened to me at the same time. As I was dancing barefoot around the room I thought “This is it! This is what it is all about”. I was in my body with nothing in my hands, nothing in front of my eyes, nothing swirling around my mind, and nothing chewing in my mouth. This is where I feel the most alive. And it’s really the easiest place for anyone to be.