I was recently fortunate enough to attend The Andrew Bray Energy Awaken trip to Havana, Cuba. The expedition is it intended for those who work with energy, whether through crystals, meditation, reiki or other forms of divination. I was intrigued, as my usual thoughts on a guided spiritual vacation instantly go to vipassana meditation retreats, where you join others in silence for days (or sometimes even weeks) in which I can see the benefit but I have not had the desire to try it. Yet, I was yearning for the calmness brought by the waves of the ocean and I was desiring the kiss of the sun in the middle of the long, cold Canadian winter and I wanted something more introspective than what an inclusive resort could provide.
Upon attending an information session for Energy Awaken I learned that there would be yoga and meditation in the morning and then day trips to various locations that hold sacred energy with stops to taste local cuisine, listen to live cuban music and sample the local rum and cigars. All this in a tropical setting, with accommodations beside the ocean, seemed like the perfect balanced vacation, with a chance to rejuvenate, as well as an opportunity to play so I signed up,
I am not a reiki practitioner, I do read cards, practice meditation and use crystals. But I was intuitive enough to realize that the ‘energy” part of the trip was whisked into a whirlwind of activity, I quickly learned that while being jostled from one site to another that this would not be your ordinary retreat type vacation, there was so much to see and do. From the firing squad site of Fidel Castro to the second-largest cemetery in the world~ Colon Cemetery.
I was overwhelmed with the history and energy we were experiencing daily and before getting a chance to absorb the enormity of these experiences we’d be off to dinner. The days were colder than normal for that time of year and it rained a lot. I only made it into the ocean once for a quick dip before an excursion (and was stung by a jellyfish!). One night, after being absolutely entranced by a performance put on by Santeria dancers I had a complete meltdown. This was unexpected, I haven’t experienced a panic attack in years, but I could not shake the feeling of being overwhelmed.
By the end of the trip I was addressing so many issues with my own personality that I felt caged inside a carcass of skin and bones who just wasn’t me. It wasn’t that I was experiencing bad energy, it was that I was experiencing so much intense energy and I realize now that I don’t always have the that means for coping with this appropriately. No crystal was going to save me now!
Upon returning home, after the plane landed, I understood that I had received the retreat that I needed while turning on my phone which had been off for the entire week. On a whim I had decided not to use my cell phone in Cuba (ok maybe not a whim, but due to the ridiculous travel cost of my cell phone carrier). That is how I’ve always experienced Cuba before, so that’s what I thought to do, even though the last time I was in Cuba was before Facebook and instagram and I had a flip phone. I believe I was the only person in the group of 12 to have experienced the journey without the connection to home. This was the first time in many years I’ve had to stand and face my feelings and acknowledge them in the raw, for good or bad.
My anger, frustration, judgment, and even awe was shaped through an unmediated filter. Sure, I’d taken pictures but I was denied the constant feedback from my peers. I now realize how much I crave that contact but I also realize that this is my crutch. I can look at past situations and see how instead of facing the conflict I would turn to my social network and gain positive approval. If you are part of my social network I want to thank you, as I realize you have helped me through thick and thin, for better or for worse, and I hope I have been rock for you as well, as I also know now how important my network is to my inner world.
I didn’t get what I expected from this trip but I definitely got what I needed. Can I somehow learn to use these breaks from the online world for more positive self reflection and to face my demons? I’m not sure, but I know that I will give it a try from now on. Giving myself weeks, days and maybe a full moon or two to take a rest from my network and ground myself. As I returned home with more gratitude in my heart, I have started having vivid dreams again (or just remembering more of them) and I have also been less concerned with checking my messages so frequently.
First cellphones, then vipassana!!! ..feeling very confident going forward.