A Weekend Immersed in Gratitude ~ My Thanksgiving Retreat (by participant Owen Millado Donnahoo)

“When you realize there is nothing lacking, the whole world belongs to you.” -Lao Tzu

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This past weekend, a group of people from all over the Bay Area and one wonderful gal from Calgary, Alberta gathered together in the name of gratitude. We sat in community, reflected on what it means to be grateful and explored the countless possibilities and ways to practice gratitude in our everyday lives. Each and everyone of us came to the circle fully present and open: open to all the sharing, the kindness, the beauty, the grace and the gifts of seeing the present and what is to come with grateful eyes. We lifted our hearts, stretched our hands and bodies through our morning yoga practice and released anything within us that is not cultivating gratitude. Then with feet and knees planted deeply on the ground, we touched our hearts and minds to the open space beneath us and sought in earnest, support for our intentions.
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It’s been days and I am still in bliss…I am still soaking in gratitude. I am so thankful to have come to Avalon, this magical place so giving and so healing with its rustic peace and magical spring waters flowing from the earth. I feel so rejuvenated and invigorated. And most of all, I feel my heart open…I have experienced non-stop gratitude from both Avalon and my new friends and have been bathing in joy since.  I wake up with a yearning to live more consciously, more mindfully;  to appreciate everything that I have, and to show appreciation daily. I feel so connected and such an integral part of this expansive universe. I am blessed and there is nothing more that I can ever want. Thanksgiving is this Thursday and I couldn’t ask for a better way to prepare for this wonderful season of love and generosity. And before I end this post, I would like to say that I am so grateful to my children, my parents, my family and friends.  I am grateful to the wonderful children, women, men and families who have allowed me to photograph them. I am grateful for my lines of work, my colleagues, my clients. I am grateful for my talents, my challenges, my body, my mind, my soul. I am grateful for my home and the food on the table. I am grateful for my faith, my community and my country. I am grateful for my joys and my fears, my insecurities and my accomplishments. I am grateful for my health and my life. I am grateful for every day that I get to wake up. I am grateful for you reading my blog. I am grateful for kind words, and honest advise. I am grateful for caring and not so caring people. I am grateful for technology. I am grateful for books. I am grateful for music, and rhythm and songs and words.  I am grateful for everything.
20131122Gratitude-173-Edit-blogLast but not least, I am truly, truly grateful to Katia Sol for helping me establish a foundation to continue a daily gratitude practice and for teaching me to go deep into thankfulness.  A huge thank you to Salina Espinosa-Setchko for the yoga, the “bed”, the “scaffolding”, and the body tapping.  And to my new friends, I am grateful for your vulnerability, strength and courage.  I cannot wait for our check-ins and learn where our individual journey leads us.  Love to you ALL. Here are a few photos from this weekend and I know that everytime I look at these photos, it will always remind me of the beautiful time we spent together.
By Owen Millado Donnahoo – Vist her website at http://www.mostpreciousart.com
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Ode to Gratitude

Gratitude is a constant prayer.  Whenever I drop into gratitude, my body relaxes, my mind stills, my heart opens wide, and my spirit remembers its connection with all things.  I enter into the present and into the realm of awe, wonder, and possibility.

Gratitude can be seen as the simple act of offering thanks.  However, in my experience it is more profound than just saying thank you or “thanks” in the ways that we commonly throw these words around in our culture.  It is thankfulness combined with deep reverence.  It is taking a moment to pause and look inwards, to find what it is that we authentically feel thankful for in that very moment.  It is an act of connection, of reaching both in and out to interact with the world.  It is experiencing that thankfulness in our very hearts, spirits, and bones.  It is both extremely simple and deeply profound all at once.

Gratitude practice can be linked directly back to the First Peoples of this land, and what is known as the Thanksgiving Address.  That beautiful Haudenosaunee address offers thanks to every aspect of creation- the birds, the trees, the water, the animals, and on.  It is a reminder to see and be thankful for our relationships to all of the beauty of creation that surrounds us, at all times.

Gratitude is learning to appreciate each and every situation, even when it is challenging or not what we had hoped.  It is finding the good in things, in the world, and in people.  It is reframing. It is approaching the world with a “beginner’s mind” and an attitude of appreciation and learning.  For example, I am really grateful that I got so sick last year, because it gave me an opportunity to rest and reflect that I might not have taken otherwise.  I am really grateful for missing my flights this morning, because without that experience this outpouring of reflections on gratitude might not have come forward and this post would not have been written.

Gratitude has saved my life.  There have been days when it was all I could do to get out of bed and put one foot in front of the other. Days in which I felt mired in hopelessness and a deep depression.  But gratitude was the fuel that kept me going.  As I trudged through the snow toward work, cold winds freezing the tears running down my face, wanting to do nothing more than to just lay down and give up, I would dig deep and remember- I am grateful for my legs, my powerful, healthy, strong legs.  Legs that are moving me toward where I need to go, even as the rest of me is filled with grief.  I am grateful for the great blessing of being able to walk on these two legs- a blessing that is not available for so many people in this world- for children of polio, the victims of land mines, the paralyzed, the ill.  I am so grateful for my strong, healthy legs.

This mantra, and other similar repeated mantras (for my eyes that can see, my arms that can hold my beautiful children,  my feet which hold me up, and so on) guided me like a beacon through those stormy days.  Sometimes it was not easy to connect to that gratitude, when all felt dark.  But there was always something to be grateful for, even if it is was as simple as my breath.

And now as things have become more easeful, I am still reminded time and time again to continually offer up my gratitude. Everywhere I go, everything I do, every small flower that I pass offers an opportunity to experience profound gratitude.

The thing about gratitude is that the more you offer it, the more you find to be grateful for.  You begin noticing things you are grateful for everywhere.  From gratitude for the laughter of a child to a helpful person on the street to the sun and the moon and the stars, it begins to flow like a river that cannot be stopped.  And that is when you really enter the Mystery- into a state of “wonder and amazement” that is fully present to the miracle of this great Creation.

Gratitude is revolutionary. It is evolutionary. It is a complete reframing of the world. It’s like putting on a whole new set of glasses.  It is seeing the world through the eyes of beauty, wonder and appreciation. It is an act of radical relationship- of giving love and appreciation and the energy of creation BACK to the world. It’s our very best way of saying THANK YOU to one another, the earth, and to GOD.

Anyone can practice gratitude. I have introduced gratitude circles in academic halls where rationality is the highest value and within minutes I have experienced those same academics drop into radiant joy as they connect with their own hearts and with one another.  I practice it with my children, and we go round and round and round sometimes for half an hour naming all of the things we are each thankful for.  I use it in my friendships, my relationships, my work, and my prayers.

Yes, gratitude is a prayer, and the more I remember to practice it, the happier I am and the more grateful I feel to be alive.

One final thing about gratitude…it is possible to offer your gratitude not only for the things you might currently see and have and experience in the world, but ALSO for the things yet to come that you long for in your heart. The key to this practice is to offer gratitude for those things as if they really already ARE.  To believe and have faith, that yes they are done.  Now, this does not mean that you are attached to the outcome- because, after all, if something different comes to pass, surely you’ll find gratitude for that too. But just by offering the gratitude for the longings you hold in your heart, it acts like a prayer-  you attract those things and create stronger possibilities for their manifestation.

What are YOU grateful for today??

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Join Katia Sol, PhD for her upcoming Gratitude Retreat at Avalon Hot Springs, November 22-24, 2013! Gratitude practice, yoga, hot springs, raw chocolate, nature connection, and delicious food prepared by an onsite therapeutic chef.  For more information and to register,  visit http://solyogatrips.com/trips/thanksgiving-yoga-retreat

My Upcoming Gratitude Retreat at Avalon Hot Springs!

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A WEEKEND RETREAT IMMERSED IN GRATITUDE

For those who are looking for a way to meaningfully celebrate Thanksgiving this year – join us for SolYoga’s first Gratitude retreat November 22-24, 2013!

It’s that time of the year – time to give thanks for all of the abundance and gifts that have been harvested in 2013. And what better way to celebrate Thanksgiving than spending a whole weekend focusing on gratitude while surrounded by natural beauty and soaking in the healing pools of Avalon Springs!

Led by Katia Sol, this weekend retreat will immerse you in the uplifting and transformative practice of gratitude. You will be guided in developing a daily gratitude practice, through time in circle, alone, and on the land. We will reflect on what we are grateful for from 2013, in preparation for the coming Solstice and New Year. The retreat also includes a daily gratitude-themed yoga class, a hike in the beautiful Mayacama Mountains, delicious meals prepared by the onsite therapeutic chef, and plenty of time for reflection and soaking in Avalon’s healing mineral hot pools.

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The healing waters are the heart of the Avalon Springs experience. The mineral hot springs of Avalon have been honored for centuries for promoting harmony and wellness. Relax and unwind in the Magnesium-rich Medicine Spring Water. Experience the skin-softening effects of the Boron-rich Mother Spring. Melt away tensions while feeling the strengthening effects of the Iron-rich Dragon Spring. And stay hydrated with your choice of seven different mineral drinking springs, flowing fresh and clean straight from the earth.

You will return home from this retreat rejuvenated and with the foundation needed to continue a daily gratitude practice that can transform your life. For,

“The moment you shift from a mindstate of negativity or judgment to one of appreciation, there are immediate effects at many levels of your being: Brain function becomes more balanced, harmonized, and supple; your heart begins to pump in a much more coherent and harmonious rhythm; and biochemical changes trigger a host of healthful responses throughout your body. Especially in difficult times, remembering to return to gratitude is a radical life-affirming act that builds your capacity for resilience.” (M. & J. Levy)

ABOUT AVALON SPRINGS

Avalon has what we think is the perfect mix between rustic living, cozy comfort and spa goodness. The rooms are old and are still being refurbished so aren’t super fancy, but are comfortable and cozy. Most of the rooms have a sink for washing but use a shared bathroom by the pools or in the lodge like the original hot springs was set up. The food and the waters are top notch and are as healing and tasteful than any resort I’ve been to, if not more so. The all around vibe is familial and you’ll feel like you’re diving into yourself while being supported by the land, the waters, the food, the atmosphere and most of all the people. If you’re looking for a sterile 5 star $400/night hotel, this isn’t for you!

THE SOAKING WATER
Relax and unwind in the Magnesium-rich Medicine Spring Water.  Experience the skin-softening effects of the Boron-rich Mother Spring.  Melt away tensions while feeling the strengthening effects of the Iron-rich Dragon Spring. And stay hydrated with your choice of seven different mineral drinking springs, flowing fresh and clean straight from the earth.

The healing waters are the heart of the Avalon Springs experience.  The mineral hot springs of Avalon have been honored for centuries for promoting harmony and wellness.

THE DRINKING WATER
In addition to the soaking springs, Avalon boasts a variety of special mineral drinking waters which can be enjoyed straight from their place of emergence in the rock. One drinking spring is high in Lithium – a mood elevator commonly used to treat Bipolar Disorder. Other springs include a bubbly iron soda drinking spring, a Magnesium-rich “laxative” spring historically named “Dynamite Spring” and Bohemia Spring, which was considered a hang-over tonic to cure the effects of over-indulgence!

ABOUT THE ACCOMMODATIONS
Avalon is set up much like the old Weber Hot Springs from the 40′s upon which Avalon sits, with a main lodge, a mini bath house and cottages set back on the hill. We offer shared double rooms or single rooms. The bathrooms are located in the bathhouse and the main lodge although some room shave a sink for washing in them.

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THE FOOD

The kitchen at Avalon Springs will draw ingredients straight from the garden, offering an ample buffet-style meal plan with large meals twice daily (lunch and dinner) and a juice and snack bar available for breakfast and between-meals needs.
Entrees for meals at Avalon will include some organic local meats, fish, and poultry as well as ample fresh vegetarian fare sourced from local farms and Avalon’s own gardens. Raw food delights will also be showcased on occasion to feature the potency and taste of the freshest produce available.

With every meal introducing healing foods preparation including raw food delicacies, superfood juices, and healing teas, dining at Avalon will be a healing experience. Unlike many healing resorts, Avalon Springs will have no dogmatic restrictions on diet, allowing the guests the freedom to explore options and choose their own ways to nourish themselves naturally, with everything from raw chocolates to hearty meats and local wines.

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INCLUDES:

~Gratitude Practices and Teachings with Katia Sol
~2 yoga classes with Salina Espinosa-Setchko
~Raw Chocolate Samples by Mia Cara Raw Chocolates
~Two Dinners, Two Brunches and two light breakfasts by our fantastic chef
~Accommodation of your choosing
~Use of Hot Springs and Facilities

NOT INCLUDED
~Transportation
~Massage/bodywork

AVALON HAS
Towels, Robes, linens/bedding, wifi in the main lodge

READY TO RETREAT? CHECK IT OUT:

We use a trust based payment structure. This means we’ll give you 3 payment options based on what you’re able to afford due to your current financial situation. We’re putting our trust in you that you’ll choose the right payment. Those of you that choose to pay the regular price of Option 3 are making it possible for us to offer a reduced price for those that are “just gettin’ by”, so we (and they) thank you from the bottom of our hearts!

How to pay:
Pay in full now (includes $150 non-refundable deposit)
*If you can’t pay in full now – please contact us to work out a payment plan

Ways to pay:
1. Credit card via Paypal (you don’t need an account)
2. Pay by check  (no processing fee) *contact for details.

Policies:
Please see our reservation and cancellation policies HERE
Buy reserving your space you are agreeing to the stated policies in our Agreement.

 

PRICING

Option 1 – Biggest discount –  Student/Artist Rate:
Although I live the life of a student/artist/yoga teacher/etc., what I really need right now in my life is this yoga retreat

Shared – $450/person – (Shared twin,or Couple in a private room)
Private – $565/person – (Private room for 1 person)
*we can pair you up if you are coming solo

Option 2 – Slight discount – Doin Alright/Employed:
I’m doing alright financially, and although I’m not scraping by, this is still a pretty big purchase for me.

Shared – $499/person – (Shared twin,or Couple in a private room)
Private – $615/person – (Private room for 1 person)
*we can pair you up if you are coming solo

Option 3 – Full Price –  I’m doing well right now
I’m doing pretty well for myself now and can afford to pay the full price so that others who aren’t as fortunate can afford a yoga retreat

Shared – $549/person – (Shared twin,or Couple in a private room)
Private – $665/person – (Private room for 1 person)
*we can pair you up if you are coming solo

 

TO REGISTER – VISIT:

http://solyogatrips.com/trips/thanksgiving-yoga-retreat