Sometimes one needs to take a leap of faith in life. One Saturday morning, I took mine when I decided apprehensively to join a one-day yoga retreat to Puncak, a weekend getaway amidst a tea plantation up in the mountains. Yes, this one-day trip is one of my leap-of-faith moments! Sounds silly?? For most people, worrying about small things like going for a short trip is ridiculous and may even sound overly dramatic. However, for me with an anxiety disorder problem, a short road-trip is such a big decision to take.
One of the most challenging things that come from having anxiety disorder is agoraphobia. The intense fear of being in places or situations where escape is hard or help is unavailable is terrifying. This type of anxiety disorder makes people extremely fearful of going anywhere. Hence a short trip can be totally challenging and easily triggers a panic attack. In severe cases, people are unable to leave their homes.
The announcement for this Yogarte trip was made known to us a month prior to the event. People would be checking their schedule to see if they could make it for this short trip. I, on the other hand kept thinking if it would be worth all my effort to go. The trip to Puncak is about 2 hours drive from Jakarta and for me, two hours on the road is long enough to create creepy thoughts crawling into my mind, producing unnecessary panic attacks. I spent many torturous days battling my own fearful thoughts about this trip. One day I could be filled with such positivity and be completely convinced to go while the next day, all the worries resurfaced creating much anxiety within me. Mind you, for people like me, each thinking process is commonly followed by strong emotions and physical discomforts like short breathing, headaches and stomachaches. Just to make my final decision felt exhausting both physically and mentally.
As much as I could feel the excitement arise at the thought of mountains, pine trees, cool breeze and beautiful mist greeting me in Puncak, my mind was also filled with horrifying thoughts of tragic incidents that could occur on the road or even during the event!! As I began to doubt myself more, my mind started to present me the most convincing worst-case scenarios. I lost the battle from within and bracing myself, told my yoga teacher Lisa to count me out.
In her usual patient manner, she gently asked my reason for not wanting to go. Despite my embarrassment for sounding silly and nonsensical, I bravely told her all my fears and worries. Surprisingly she looked straight at me gently and carefully addressed each of my worries logically. How she addressed my fears allayed my anxiety, giving me a sudden surge of hope, motivation and excitement swelling from within.
Deep down I felt this trip would be a crucial moment that will aid my soul to grow and slowly overcome my anxiety disorder problem. Much to my mom’s amazement, I braved myself and announced that we will be going for a one-day trip outside the city.
So there I was on the D-day, gathering with other yoga friends at 5.30 in the morning. Taking a deep breath, I braced myself before I got into a friend’s car. As we were on the road, I looked outside and found myself starting to relax and enjoy the ride. The road was pretty empty and the silence of the environment comforted my heart. As I looked ahead, I could see the sunrise on the horizon. Its first ray bursting through the clouds made the sky looked majestic and beautiful. I felt serene and suddenly knew I was going to be okay.
When we arrived at the lodge 2 hours later, the cold breeze kissed my face when I got out of the car. The place was surrounded with pine trees and colorful flowers. From afar, I could hear laughter and chatter and saw some friends were already on their yoga mats. “I’m safe,” I thought to myself. I’m surrounded with beautiful nature and lovely people. “But what if something terrible happens???” my worries resurfaced immediately. I said to myself nervously. “It’s ok. Let it all out. Even if you feel like crying, let it be. You are in a safe place and a safe environment.”
The air got colder as the clouds gathered and covered up the sun. The yoga session was about to start. Lisa instructed us to close our eyes and took deep breaths. With each breath, my mind came to the present and became still, enabling me to notice all the wonderful sensations around me. I began to notice the refreshing cold breeze, the nostalgic smell of the wet soil and the local dogs barking softly from far. With each pose, my body got warmer and before I realised it, Lisa instructed us to do a Savasana pose, which means the session was about to end.
Feeling all warm and excited, my yoga friends and I could not wait for the upcoming activities, essential oil reading and art therapy. But before that, we all gathered in a big patio, indulging ourselves with various mouth-watering breakfast buffet. Soon, the day became filled with fun yet enriching activities. Through the essential oil reading and art therapy session, I was not only learning about myself but also about others. The open talk about the 3D art we created revealed that we all have imperfections and face challenges in life differently. This heart-warming activity made me realize that I was not the only one who struggled in life. Apparently, there were many that hid their struggles behind their smiles and cheerful chatter. I walked out the art therapy room feeling enlightened yet wistful.
Time went by quickly and before you know it, it was time to go home. Because I was exhausted after a hectic day, my anxiety and unreasonable thoughts resurfaced immediately making me very nauseous. Anxiously, I took several deep breaths whilst inhaling the peppermint and other essential oils I received from the oil reading earlier on. I kept on drumming inside me to calm down and it will all pass quickly! Upon reaching home, I felt a huge wave of relief washed over me. I felt like crying and yet, at the same time proud of my achievement that I was able to get through the day without breaking down! At that moment, a surge of gratefulness filled my nerve wrecked body and made me realise how important it was I took this leap of faith to brace my problem.
There’s a part in me that yearns for growth and I just need to take it one step at a time. Last but not least, I always remind myself it does not matter how slow I go, as long as I keep trying.
ABOUT Dameira Damayanti
Dame is a freelance translator and a self-proclaimed poet who loves doing yoga and painting to keep her balance. She loves many things in life from spending time alone in the nature, having a meaningful conversation, to blending with a crowd for the sake of watching people.
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