Craig has subtly hinted about our Spirit Quest all week. He always smiles mischievously when he talks about it. This is an 8-hour silent and solo excursion in nature where we will meditate and get in touch with ourselves. We are also meant to fast, though be sure to drink lots of water. (Craig has emphasized this). After delving into so much deep spirituality these last two weeks, I am excited to spend some quiet time alone in nature. Though I’m not excited to fast.
I wake promptly at 6:30am and spend some lazy time in bed before embarking on my journey. I promised myself I’d unplug and fortunately my phone dies so I have no other choice but to live the day undistracted. I peer out my balcony to a grey and looming mess of clouds, blocking the rays of the sun. I walk out the door with my yoga mat, and get only a few steps before turning back for a rain jacket and sweater.
I walk down the all familiar road towards Pohoiki Beach, though when I get to the fork, I turn right instead of straight down towards the water. If I wander down this road long enough it will take me into Pahoa where the Night Market is. Craig had said to find a private spot, preferably with a view of the ocean. I walk hoping to find a cliff or a state park. I walk for what I predict is a little over an hour before coming to a dirt trail leading off the road. It leads towards the ocean though I can’t see where it lets off. It veers down slightly into thick and dark jungle brush. I figure it must take me towards the ocean, so I decide courageously to take it. Down the trail I go, slowly Becoming engulfed by the lush tree canopy. I come across an abandoned car with a massive KEEP OUT spray-painted on the side, past fire pits and leftover garbage, past government signs with more warnings. Finally I step out into the rising sun, onto a stretch of creased volcanic rock along the oceans’ edge. The ground is uneven and harsh. As I walk towards the shore, waves crack and spray mounds of salt water five-ten feet in each direction. Mist hangs in the air long after the spray disappears, turning my ocean view into a mystical paradise. I lay down my mat far enough from the spray to not get drenched and sit down, closing my eyes. The one thing I am not allowed to do is lie down, this is the only rule Craig has told us. What with being light headed news from the fasting and the earlier than normal morning rise, I know I would fall asleep instantly. So I sit upright. Sometimes I lean on my hands though mostly I stay in a cross-legged position with my eyes closed, my hands to heart and heart to sea.
I stagger back to Kirpal hours later, lethargic and calm, after spending the day on the ocean alone. After showering the salt water mist out of my hair, I meet the group in the Shala. I notice how everyone wanders in slow and meditative, like zombies congregating for some sacred event. We still maintain the silence, though smile at each other as we pass. Allison leads us through breathing exercises. This is done on our backs in Savasana. I’m so relaxed that I’m in and out of sleep the whole time. Afterwards we sit in a circle with Craig and we share our experience of the day. It is the first time in a while that I’m allowed to speak. I adjust slowly and notice that my thoughts are clearer, my voice more powerful. I notice how easily I am to emphasize the meanings of the day. How I sat by the ocean and found calm amongst the violent strength of the taranga (waves). How I flinched at first when the thunderous break burst through the silence, then taught myself to sit with discomfort and surrender to it. How I let all thoughts and memories that didn’t serve me any longer fall off my skin and be carried out to sea. How I let the mist reinvigorate me anew. How I found calmness and contentment. Everyone else has wonderful, ecstatic things to say about the exercise as well. I tell Craig irritably that his voice, “don’t sit down, this is the only rule,” echoed through my head all day. The room erupts in laughter. Everyone absorbed his words differently, and followed variations of the rule. We all have so much to share that we talk well into dinner time, not noticing the time going by. When we finally sit down to eat curry soup with roasted purple sweet potatoes and quinoa muffins, I am silent again with complete satisfaction and absorption in the food. It is so delicious that I even go back for seconds. And thirds.