Who are we, really?

by Sonja van den Bosch

Who are we, really?

Half a year ago I had a hunch to invite my two close colleagues, Sasha & Joanne, along to The Immersion this year. This is a crazy, intense week in paradise (the Balinese jungle) with my dear teachers Remy and Zena. Through an intense program of breathing, meditation, yoga, philosophy & self-reflection, silence and connecting with nature, layers of the ego get stripped away and our true selves come to the forefront.

There is such great benefit in being disconnected from technology and being connected with nature, silence and just being for a week. Don’t get me wrong this is not a week of just doing nothing and having cocktails by the pool, it is actually very ‘hard work’, but so rewarding.

What was I thinking???

The decision to invite Sasha & Joanne was definitely not made with my head (what was I thinking?), it just felt like the right thing to do. It was my heart or intuition speaking. As we got closer to the leaving date, I had mixed emotions – both fear and excitement visited me.

What if they don’t like it?
What if they think I am weird?
What if they decide they don’t want to work with Twinlife anymore?

I’ve seen people make big life changes and transitions during these immersions. On the other hand, I was also very excited about sharing such a rewarding and personal experience with them and showing up as the completely real version of myself, warts and all. I am sure that both Joanne and Sasha had their doubts and trepidations as well.

Sasha: “The truth is, I didn’t feel particularly brave or adventurous or crazy embarking on this trip. I felt delicious anticipation, that sense that something extraordinary might be around the corner but what exactly I couldn’t say. I felt some trepidation. Would I be able to keep up with the yoga practice after years away and a couple of kids in those intervening years? Could I be vulnerable and open with colleagues whom I admire and respect, let alone a group of total strangers? Could I cajole, wrangle or simply allow my chatterbox mind to get on board with the practice of meditation?”

Joanne: “While excited and committed to making the most of the week, what took me by surprise was the separation anxiety I experienced in the first two days away from those closest to me. However, after a couple of days of ‘what was I thinking?!’ it all kind of clicked. I fell into the routine of the day and took on each challenge with grit and determination, shedding any concerns or fears – like how inexperienced I looked in front of all these advanced yoga students and incredible teachers!”

Whatever will be is meant to be

We all went in open-minded and with the attitude: whatever will be is meant to be. I was impressed how fearlessly and wholeheartedly Joanne and Sasha threw themselves into everything that was on offer during the immersion and the level of trust they showed.

Sasha: “Cue much eye-rolling when I started telling people we were heading there on a work retreat. A somewhat different reaction when they heard the itinerary.”

Joanne: “Although Sonja said it won’t be easy, the intensity of the week still came quite unexpected.”

It definitely wasn’t easy, getting up at 4.30am every morning to meditate for 40 minutes before sunrise, journaling and doing pranayama (breathwork), daily 2-hour yoga practice, going through 2.5 days of total silence, 3 sessions of holotropic breathwork where you completely lose control of your body and your mind, leaning into the discomfort and unknown, being vulnerable, self-reflection and opening up to whatever comes, as themed by Rumi’s guest house,  which challenges us to honour the highs as well as the lows inherent to the human experience – and to welcome it. Welcome it all.

Sasha: “The Bali Immersion 2018 was billed as a “retreat with an impact”. A magical, fully catered week away in paradise, but make no mistake: if we wanted to return transformed, clearer and more confident, then ours is not a passive role to play. If our comfort zone is a bubble then we were to be constantly pushing and testing the edges of it – physically, mentally and emotionally.”

Opening up…

Personally, I learned that my strengths determination, discipline and dedication are also my weaknesses. Yes, they have given me great pleasure and success in life and I’ve been wearing them as a badge of honour (the joy of the ego), but they’ve also caused my heart space to close and my upper back to stiffen. Opening up that egoic cage was initially physically and emotionally painful, however the relief came soon after and feeling the life force flow through again was the absolute gift.

Sasha: “Fresh perspective can be found by literally turning things on their head. Sometimes we get lost in the maze, stuck and stagnant in our thinking. The benefits of getting out in nature are well known for this but I found that practicing inversions literally helped me shake up my thinking and come at things from a different angle. Be it a shoulder stand, hanging upside down on ropes like a bat or simply resting my legs vertically up a wall, new ideas, creative inspiration and potential solutions to troublesome challenges would tumble out faster than I could write them down.”

Better, stronger, more connected

It was quite an emotional and exhilarating experience doing this as a team and it has brought us even closer together. There were a few tears, lots of laughs, openings and some more openings, great conversations and interesting learnings. We’ve stood on our heads, bend backwards in a wheel and did all kinds of weird and wonderful acro-yoga poses, feeling the child-like joy of giving things a go.

Joanne: “By showing our true selves 24/7, being open about our strengths and challenges, and listening and supporting each other, we have grown as individuals, strengthened as a team, and returned with renewed energy to share with our Twinlife people, partners, and awesome clients.”

Sasha: “How often do we allow ourselves to just be? In the moment and fully present. How many of us know that ‘you can’t pour from an empty cup’ yet fail to prioritise our own well-being? Hyperconnectivity means we also tend to operate in hyperdrive without recharging. Taking a week to go off-grid was a wonderful circuit-breaker while also powering up my creativity, clarity of thinking, sense of inner-strength and true connection with the environment and people around me. It also felt like an indulgence and that has really challenged me to think about ways to disconnect in shorter and more practical bursts in my everyday life.

It was a gift and a privilege to be able to be part of this experience. It has had a profound impact, and (just quietly) I’m pretty stoked I can pull off a headstand!”

We’ve come back better, stronger, more connected and with a whole lot of sparkle! I am really glad I followed my hunch 6 months ago and listened to my heart. Thank you to Remy and Zena for guiding us on this special journey.

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2 Comments

  1. Ruth McCance says:

    What a great reflection of the team you are that you shared this journey together. I think you are inspiring the way all three of you put what you believe into practice. Thank you for sharing this.

  2. Thanks a lot for your kind words Ruth. The journey is continuing and we are becoming better and stronger every day 🙂

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