My seven awakenings in Patmos
It was time to make space for myself. To feel deeply connected and retreat into myself with the hope of harmonizing mind, body, and spirit.
Almost by serendipity, I read about a Somawareness yoga retreat on the Greek island of Patmos, the birthplace of Apocalypse, following a dear friend’s fortuitous gift, Wake up, a book by Chris Baréz Brown.
I recalled my late father’s words that Patmos’ charm lies in its magical, natural beauty, serenity and spirituality, and signed up for a week-long sejour of Iyengar yoga classes, led by Antonis Frangakis.
On the catamaran ride from Kos to Patmos, I yearned for peace of mind and a relentless need to reawaken all my senses- to feel, see, smell and taste every experience.
I arrived at Onar 1989 to discover that a blue sheet of the Aegean, with a majestic rock peeking out from behind, would be my daily view. What a blessing! I was greeted by a tanned and radiant Swiss couple, who attested the island’s natural aura of harmony and assured me that each day would unfold a surprise by Mother Nature.
A peek into my week at ‘Destination Bliss’
My day began at 5.30 a.m. with stretching and meditation. The sound of silence, with the intermittent chirping of birds, gave me a sense of clarity and resolve. Our sunrise yoga alfresco began at 6.00 a.m. just a breath away from a pristine beachfront. Standing poses against a breathtaking sunrise to mark our arrival, forward bending asanas (yoga poses) to pacify the mind, and backbends to help us open up and revitalize. At 6:20 a.m. we had a pleasant daily interlude as a dedicated herd of goats passed by. Their melodious sound of bleating made you want to shriek ‘Baah-maste.’ Breakfast by the incredible chefs of Cookoovaya followed, with inventive dishes including porridge with seasonal fruit and paximadia (twice-baked bread) topped with honey and tahini.
I took great pleasure in swimming, snorkeling and mindful walking along the beach, with the cool water splashing gently on my ankles, before our soothing sunset yoga. And, of course, soaking up the vibes of this picturesque island including a momentous visit at the great Monastery of St. John the Theologian and the cave where he took refuge to write the Book of Revelation. A feast of mouthwatering vegetarian dishes under the starry sky of this mystical island enveloped my days. Quinoa, topped with zucchini and pumpkin seeds, and sweet temptations using almond milk, fruit and honey. Need I say more?
Patmos was full of surprises as my Swiss friends warned me. Coupled with revelations and wake-up calls. But, how much of this wealth would I be able to integrate into my daily routine?
As I bid adieu to Patmos and read the last pages of Wake Up, this is what I took away to help me maintain an extra dose of sanity, joyousness, and connectivity.
- Wake up 20 minutes early. I have now replaced my mundane alarm tune with Charlie Wilson’s I’m blessed. It helps me smile as I trace my thoughts and emotions and visualize what I want my day to look like.
- ‘Breathe deeply to have more energy with the 5-6-7 technique.’ – Wake Up. When we are under stress, our breathing changes and we have trouble staying alert. Breathing deeply invigorates us and reduces our stress level. Here’s a breathing technique, which I aim to do five times a day: I breathe in through my nose for five seconds, hold my breath for six seconds, and breathe out through the mouth for seven seconds. This revitalizes me and helps me regain consciousness.
- Be in tune with nature and wake up all your senses. I have learned that the more connected we stay with nature, the more aligned we feel with ourselves. I now aim to gaze at the sun and the moon more often, feel the fresh air and observe the celestial blend of colors.
- Break free from the autopilot trap, ‘feel tuned in, tap into who you really are, and make every day count,’ – Wake Up. Reading the alarming fact that ‘over 80% of our waking time is spent on autopilot,’ I now aim to be more mindful about every move and step I take. It’s not enough to reach your destination when you can’t recall most of the journey.
- Switch off the world of distraction. Scrolling down social media feeds when home alone or with a group of friends is something that I can occasionally confess guilty of doing. And I must admit that it is addictive. A fellow yogi alerted me to keep note of how much time I actually spend on social media, and replace that with something more meaningful which boosts my emotional well-being, i.e. go for a walk.
- ‘Spread the love. Tell people what you love about them,’ – Wake Up. Recognize the unique traits in each one of your friends, who can inspire you to make the best of each moment. Make time for meaningful human connection, and make sure you express your gratitude to friends and family for that special, a-ha touch they add to your life.
- Make a mindful evaluation of your day. Ask yourself: What made today unique? What are you grateful for?
Remember- Wake up in a way that will get those senses going!
The photos, featuring our yoga instructor, Antonis Fragkakis, have been taken by an incredibly talented, fellow yogi, Marina Poupos (www.instagram.com/marina71p).