Celebrating the Winter Solstice at The Ojai Foundation
Hey there, gorgeous-
Happy Holidays! This past weekend my man and I celebrated the Winter Solstice at the world famous Ojai Foundation in magical Ojai, California.
It was my second time in Ojai and it’s fast become one of my favorite getaway spots that’s easily accessible from LA.
The mission of The Ojai Foundation is “to foster practices that awaken connection with self, others, and the natural world”.
Our weekend there consisted of an exploration of Ashtanga yoga, community, and an earth-based ceremony (my first sweat lodge experience) with The Ojai Foundation's executive co-directors, Adam Rumack and Miriam Tassone, and other community members.
The time we spent together was a “simple honoring of the darkest time of the year, in the light of community, connection, and practice”.
Loren and I arrived at The Ojai Foundation around noon on Saturday. I was immediately mesmerized by their beautiful grounds and breathtaking views of the valley. We gathered with the rest of the group a couple of hours later, taking time to ground in place and introduce ourselves to one another.
To begin, we lit a fire for the lodge ceremony and entered into some solo time. After the ceremony, led by the lovely and impressive Paul Perrotta, we gathered for a potluck dinner. Loren, who is the “culinary master” in our relationship, prepared a tasty and beautiful pesto pasta for us to share with the group. I’m such a lucky woman!
The lodge ceremony was quite the adventure! Dressed in only my hot yoga clothes, we entered the lodge with the others. We were inside the lodge in mostly complete darkness for about four hours.
During the first hour we took turns praying aloud (or silently) for ourselves. In the second hour we prayed for others. Our third hour focused on praying for whatever or whomever we desired. Finally, in the fourth hour, we tuned into Mother Earth and just listened for guidance as we opened ourselves to experience a shamanic journey.
Due to the fact that it was almost freezing outside and the ground was quite cold and damp, the lodge didn’t really start heating up until the third round! Apparently, this was very unusual. However, instead of taking away, it only added to the adventure of it all.
While this was my first sweat, Loren has participated in a number of “traditional” sweats that last much longer and in a significantly smaller space. Our sweat was “shamanic” and we had only about 18 people in our group. I have a newfound respect for my man now, to say the least!
Once we were all in the lodge, there was only room for us to sit up against the wall with our legs extended in front of us or to lay down down in narrow slots with our knees bent close to our bodies.
The lodge ceremony pushed me to my edge in so far as I can get claustrophobic and prefer not to touch other people’s bodies or wet clothes while drenched with sweat and covered with dirt.
However, life experience that has taught me that growth only occurs outside of our comfort zones, so I appreciated the opportunity to challenge and stretch myself.
I was relieved to come out into the cold, fresh air in the end, but I could already feel as though I had been through something very special and transformative.
In the first hour I gave thanks for my healthy body and mind, my healthy loving relationships and the challenges therein that help me grow.
I also expressed gratitude for the opportunity to celebrate the Winter Solstice with my man and the incredible Ojai foundation community, to reflect on 2016, digest all that happened, and let go of all that no longer serves me so that I can start 2017 with a clean slate.
In addition, I prayed for more empathy and compassion in the world. For now, I’m going to keep the rest of my prayers to myself...
After some much needed rest, on Sunday morning we welcomed the dawn with a yoga asana and pranayama practice, a short talk and council, and then breakfast.
We decided to stay on Sunday afternoon and attend the annual Winter Solstice celebration that included live music, dancing, fire, delicious soups and bread, and more community building.
We connected with some beautiful souls over the course of the two days and feel that we now have a unique bond with people we had never met before. What a gift!
I am forever grateful to my man, Loren, and The Ojai Foundation, for this marvelous weekend. I am already feeling my prayers from the lodge ceremony being answered and believe it or not, looking forward to the next sweat!
You can learn more about The Ojai Foundation at www.ojaifoundation.org. I hope this serves you.
All my love and gratitude,
P.S. Have you joined my FB group, “The Creative Living Revolution” yet? It’s the place to be for high-achieving, conscious women who are done settling and instead want to activate their “creative genius” to attract the love they desire. Stop by and say hi here.