In my hotel room, I am a whirlwind in search of yoga pants.
Oh no! I’m so late, I think, growing frantic. Not a great first impression. This is a mindfulness weekend, and I’m going to show up flustered. Perfect. Oops, can’t forget my mat. Am I even ready to do yoga? Where are those pants?!
Welcome to the cacophony inside my head, where you’ll typically find a half dozen thoughts pinballing off one another at once. Even at my most relaxed, music plays in there. (Lately, it’s been “Walking on Sunshine.” Please help.) Only recently did I discover that some folks can turn off this endless, sometimes stressful internal monologue. So I’ve come to a mindfulness retreat in the mountains of Alabama’s Cheaha State Park to learn how.
At this point—early 2020—the pandemic has yet to take hold in the U.S., so I’m still blissfully focused on self-improvement, rather than outright survival.
For the next four days, I’ll meditate, journal, practice restorative yoga, and even—gulp!—spend a day in silence, alone with my own thoughts. All of this is completely new to me. I haven’t tried yoga in seven years, and I’ve never meditated. But Kim Drye, cofounder of Birmingham’s Here Now Yoga, which hosts the annual retreat, assured me weeks ago that I could do this.
“There’s no judgment,” she’d said by phone. “Our practice meets you where you are.”
So, here I am.