A strong spirit

By Lynda Shadbolt

I am sitting on a magnificent rock on Beausoleil Island in Georgian Bay. I’ve been leading two spring yoga retreats for the London YMCA Camp Queen Elizabeth, and it is our first time back since the start of the pandemic. Everyone is incredibly grateful to be here. The blessing I have used this weekend is “May you be filled with loving kindness. May your spirit be strong. May you be safe and protected. May you be filled with deep healing and goodness. May you be held by love.”
It is another variation of the loving kindness “metta” tradition. All weekend I have found myself contemplating the line: “May your spirit be strong.”

How do we strengthen our spirit? How do we show up in our lives when our spirit is strong? What are the things and who are the people that support us in having a strong spirit? Why is it important to have a strong spirit? For me, being in nature strengthens my spirit. Time every day outside under the sky and on the land. For some, it it is making art, playing music, being sporty, reading, time alone, walking the dog every morning or sitting on the deck and quietly being. For some, it is volunteering. There are so many ways. It it important we know ourselves and do what strengthens us. Something I have realized after these two weekends is that being around young people is so uplifting. The staff at this camp are in their early to mid and late-twenties. They are smart, kind, generous, caring, so interesting and so full of life.

They have so many stories to share, games to play with us and expertise to help everyone have fun. These young people are inspiring just by being who they are and sharing their lives with all of the participants on the retreat, who range in age from 20 to 75. They are hopeful, optimistic, and just really fun to hang out with. I have been soaking in their good vibrations. During the height of COVID our lives all got very small. Even seeing my daughter wasn’t always possible in those two years. And so now as we return to the world there are opportunities once again to have a wider range of connections. And these connections strengthen our spirits. I know I have to push myself to get out and re-connect, and every time I do I feel stronger. As we head into this summer there are lots of opportunities coming back into our community such as Music in the Park, or the Highlands Summer Festival plays. We all cherish these parts of our community and so we all want them to return. All the programs and activities need our support and we will all feel better as we take advantage of them. Whatever makes your spirit strong is what you should be doing! Whatever depletes your spirit you should recognize and manage. This morning, as we did qigong on the rocks, I had an image of every person being a lighthouse, beaming their light and love out into the world. The world needs us all to shine and I am so appreciative of these lovely young people who helped to strengthen my spirit this weekend.