Last summer I joined a yoga retreat. Which has been my dream for the couple of years. At last, here I was, in a tiny village in the heart of Croatian island of Hvar. On the first night of retreat, after a dinner and a welcome circle, we were doing the guided meditation. Lying on the stone floor of the terrace, under the stars blinking through the terrace roof, listening to the sounds of the village, so unusual for us, city people. A dog barking in the distance, someone playing football, mosquito buzzing. Listening to the voice of Russelle, our yoga teacher. Guiding our breath and our focus. “Pay attention to this pause between breaths. Something has ended, new hasn’t started yet. It is called Standba”( not sure about the spelling, to me it sounded like “stand by”. Which makes a good sense).
This is when the light bulb went on in my head. THIS IS THE PERIOD IN MY LIFE THAT I AM GOING THROUGH NOW! Something has ended. New hasn’t started yet. Nothing is happening. So don’t rush it.
I came to the point of my life where the major change was just about to happen. I had lived in this country for 10 years, working hard on my goals. As an immigrant in Norway I had to meet many requirements in order to stay in the country. During these 10 years I have been an au-pair, a student and a teacher with full-time job. And always – a fighter. The laws are strict for immigrants who come outside of EU, and as Ukrainian I had to apply for visa every year. There were requirements for my legal stay, documentation and fees, there were stress and insecurity. Last summer I was entering a new period. When my stay would soon become secure. When my life would soon not be structured by the legal requirements (that I have a job offer, that the job must be full-time specialist work, according to my education). For the first time there will be more freedom.
The freedom was creating a new space. And I was so impatient about filling that space. I wanted a change in my career. But what would I choose? What would I do if I don’t follow the structured route I had taken so far? This is when the notion of “standba” came in (I mean, if there is a name, there must be such a thing :)). NOTHING IS HAPPENING. Let it be. Feel it. Let yourself be in it.
After the morning practice and the breakfast we would go to the beach, every time a different one. The sea water had an amazing turquoise color, and I was spending hours in it, getting salty like a pickle. As I was swimming one day, Russelle’s words came to my mind: “We are the people of movement. Always wondering about what’s the next thing”. I was doing just the same. Trying to figure out my next year. But what if I let it be as it is – undefined? What if I just let myself be? Will the life carry me like this beautifully colored sea water? Will it show me the way? This yogic principle of balance between effort and surrender, that I practice standing in asanas, – is it possible to live this way too?
On our last day of retreat we had the trip to the Hvar town. The town, known as Saint-Tropez of Croatia, is little but full of energy, with fancy boats in the port, and crowds filling the streets. After a week of village life we were a little bit shocked, so we wanted to take it easy. Sipping coffee on the café terrace, we were talking about the fruit of retreat. “Have you got what you wanted from the retreat?” – the girls asked each other. “Yes, I did, – I said. – I have got the sense of direction. Though, not. Not the sense of direction – but allowing myself not to have a direction. To be on pause. Without knowing. Without a next goal”. The other girls joined in sharing that this notion of “pause” touched them on the very first night.
Since the last summer I wanted to share this insight, and at last I got to writing this text :). The timing is perfect, as I started this year by leaving my job and jumping into the unknown. A friend commented that if you don’t know where you go, you will arrive nowhere. Yes and no. Going through my summer journals, I got a reminder. It is ok not to know. It is ok to be on pause. When something has ended. And the new hasn’t yet begun. Where nothing is happening. In between the breaths.