2011August: Experiencing sensory overload….

I’ve long been skeptical of things trying to be something they’re not; experiences and products that are trying to pull one over on our senses. I am generally baffled that there is a market for non-dairy creamer.

Maybe I’m too much of a pragmatist, but all things “faux” give me the willies. At best, they’re unsettling and confusing to our nervous system.  At worst, they’re deadly (umm, saccharin, anyone?) 

Take fake nails, for example.  I’ve been told the expensive, good quality ones look authentic, but a few years back I had a cheap set of acrylics applied.  For weeks, I couldn’t shake their resemblance to the thick toenail fungus I picked up when living in a fraternity one summer during college.  Who was I fooling?  In my attempt to look fancy, I instead resembled a person in need of an aggressive antibiotic treatment.

Naturally, then, as I set off last week for another week long retreat to Breitenbush, an off-the-grid hot springs resort in the Oregon mountains, one of the things I was looking forward to the most was the absence of sensory stimulus.

Our typical day is filled with artificial light, computer screens, television sounds and tastes or smells that can’t be found in nature. Life is so full of distractions that our nervous systems are on constant overdrive. We are constantly prepared for battle, and that leaves little room for the good stuff:  Experiencing, feeling, and being at ease.

At a place like Breitenbush, where stimulus is limited to the sun on your face and the sounds of the river and authentic conversation, you realize how literally and figuratively loud life is.  When you take away that chaos, combined with daily yoga and clean food, there is room to think, process and make decisions about what really matters.

It’s not easy for some; we are so conditioned to be comfortable in distraction that the space to think is just too much.  (My first visit was exhausting!) But once you make peace with what it’s like to feel – the experience is rejuvenating, refreshing and relaxing….

…..Then you have to come home.  And re-entry is tough.

One hour out of the retreat, our carpool made a pit stop at a McDonald’s to use the restroom, where I was assaulted, literally, by the sickly-sweet smell of air freshener.

Instantly, I was irritated.  What I should’ve asked myself was: “How does one take lessons learned at a retreat and apply them when life is coming at you fast?”

Instead I blurt out:  “Who the hell thinks this smell is a better option than poo?!  I can still smell shit, it’s just now combined with this hideous, fruity crap!”

So much for serenity.

See you at the studio, where we use only naturally scented products. 😉

Jen, Twist Yoga in Downtown Edmonds

PS.  For those of you with a retreat to Breitenbush on your wish list, consider attending our Summer, 2012 retreat with Heather and Jen.