From yoga classes, meditation, failed inversions and humbling moments spent delving into my practice – no textbook in the world could have prepared me for what I’ve learned at Wanderlust.

For the past four summers, I have been privileged enough to attend Wanderlust Stratton. Each year, I set my intention with the hope of coming out the other side a changed woman. It wasn’t until this year that I finally felt a spark. On the way to finding my true north, I stumbled into Dylan Werner’s intermediate Vinyasa blacklight class. I was low key struggling, so the 90-minute Beyond Balance Vinyasa class turned into a 30-minute Beyond Courtney’s Comprehension class and I was out.

As I wobbled my way toward Stratton’s base where a sea of vendors awaited, I began to feel less like a fish out of water and more like wallpaper. I was back to my old ways, blending in, feeling comfortable, unchallenged and unchanged. The feeling of failure hung over me like a guillotine. I needed 24 hours to patch up my ego so as the sun set on day one the score board read: Wanderlust 1. Courtney 0.

Wanderlust Stratton 2016 | Photo: Kylie Fly Turley
Photo: Kylie Fly Turley

Waking up on day two, I felt recharged and hopeful. I set a very attainable goal to attend and finish one class. Spoiler alert: I accomplish my goal. Go me! I’ve never been a sound sleeper. Years of seeing a specialist and countless acupuncture appointments have landed me nowhere so I had little confidence that I’d be successful in a meditation class, but I signed up for one anyway. The Savasana Practice by Nikki Costello, a certified lyengar yoga teacher, spoke to me. From start to finish, Costello guided the class step by step in our savasana. At first my mind wandered; but slowly, I found silence. I awoke from my deep relaxation to the soft words of Costello leading us back into the present. When we were finally instructed to open our eyes, I hesitated, the corners of my mouth curled up and I took one more moment to myself. This was the start I needed.

Wanderlust 1. Courtney 1.

My success from day two began a chain reaction that overflowed into day three. I tried my hand at another intermediate level yoga class. Mary Beth LaRue, yoga teacher and life design coach, lead Soulscape: Beats Meet Bliss with Bob Marley with Sol Rising as her DJ. While the physical part of the class was wonderful, it was what she said that made my heart spark. She instructed the first few rows to turn around and face the back half of the class. Once turned, I was met by many gazes. I shifted my eyes being very careful to avoid direct eye contact.

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LaRue called us beautiful and strong. She talked about human connection and encouraged us to make them…starting now. “Make eye contact with your neighbors,” she said. I almost cried at that very moment because as simple of a task as that may be for some, I found it terrifying and uncomfortable. I realized something about myself, something I think I’ve known subconsciously. I’m a shell. I’m scared of being judged so I hide behind my plane clothes and stare at the ground as I walk through life scared. If eyes truly are the window to a person’s soul, I guess I’m afraid of what everyone will see. The truth is raw, unpolished and imperfectly perfect and from now on, I’m going to be okay with that.

 

Wanderlust 1. Courtney 2.

Invigorated by my brief moment of self-discovery, I signed up for a three-hour Handstand & Arm Balance Workshop with Dylan Werner. Three hours! A part of me resisted but I shut that down and embraced my inner goddess. Entering Werner’s class, I brought reinforcements, a co-worker and visiting friend. Half lecture, half practice this workshop was a complete body and mind workout. What stuck out to me the most was when Werner said “balance is relaxing.” As you can imagine, handstands are all about balance and his connection to relaxation was incomparable at first but then, he explained.

Wanderlust Stratton 2016 | Photo: Cassandra Russo
Photo: Cassandra Russo

Doing something the right way can be uncomfortable if you’ve been practicing the wrong way for years. We get stuck in our ways and feel comfortable in our struggles. Just because we’re comfy does not mean we’re balanced. To grow and find balance, one must dive into the unknown, let go of fear, embrace the struggle and practice.

After realizing the truth behind his powerful words, behind everyone’s powerful words of wisdom at Wanderlust, I made a new intention. To be uncomfortable.

Wanderlust 1. Courtney 3.

 

About the Author

Courtney DiFioreCourtney DiFiore | Three years ago, Courtney was on a mission to find herself; instead, she found Vermont. As she navigates her way through the ups, downs and moguls of life Courtney enjoys spending it standing sideways. Growing up in a family of skiers, two planks were the first mode of transportation for this outdoor enthusiast. Along the way, she discovered snowboarding and never looked back. Her scattered thoughts make for interesting posts. If she ever goes missing, make sure to check the tennis courts first!