Yoga with Francis and Friends

If you wonder what goes on during Francis Lucille retreats, I must admit it is not easy to describe.

It’s easy to tell you about the delicious food, wonderful friendships, and the beauty of the space itself—these retreats have all aspects of everything you may dream a yoga retreat would be. However amazingly, these aspects are, by far, not the best part.

Looking deeply at modern yoga, it is possible to root out an underlying assumption that carries over from the way we approach pretty much everything it seems. This assumption has an if this, then that formula. For example, if we improve the body and mind, then we may feel we are really getting somewhere, and one day we might even get “there”. But what does getting there mean really?

One thing I’ve learned from Francis, is how many of our feelings and motivations have gone uninvestigated. In particular, the effort of trying to resolve a deep discomfort by getting somewhere is precisely what keeps us on the treadmill. It’s exhausting. “If only I had better health, more money, if I fixed this, changed that, improved this, got rid of that…” and the list goes on and on. We never really stop to ask ourselves if this particular way we are trying to work it out really works. I’m not suggesting we should stop working towards betterment. Doing our best is obviously a great way to take care in this world, but moreso, I’m pointing out something more fundamental.

The question is, what will you get when you get what you want?

“Hmmm, well… then I’ll be happy!”

The Dalai Lama once said, “Go ahead and keep doing your best, but be happy now.”

I know. This seems simple and easy to say. The question we could then ask him is, “How?” And of course, some of us are relatively happy to a degree, but what he means is really happy—you know, a deeper type of happiness that is content, even when things aren’t always going our way. A peaceful, happy kind of contentment. A broader view. This is what yoga really has to offer.

And still the question remains, how? The answer to this question begins with one main prerequisite—an interest. Maybe at first we are mildly interested when hearing something like this, but then the desire to keep going down old roads might still be strong (in yoga philosophy, we call this Tamas). Or perhaps we really don’t believe that happiness can be lasting, or possible exactly as we are—as it is. Or maybe we’ve just simply put far too much investment in how we have been doing things and we are just going to settle with this plan, because after all, at least it is familiar—and, well, good enough anyway.

And that is of course, perfectly fine. But for those who are tired of those old roads that don’t really, upon investigation, deliver on their promises, there is another way.

In the beginning, starting to turn the ship around may indeed feel like a bit of a challenge. But once you start, little things do start to shift. More and more things begin to really reveal themselves and you start to see for yourself that it is worth it! We begin to see that the effort we were putting into old ways now seem so heavy. And this new effort we are putting into this investigation is really lightening the load. We finally begin to see that we’ve been looking for lasting happiness in all the wrong places.

…and the greatest thing is that it was never far.

In fact…

…it was in us all along. Everything we ever wanted.

It’s an amazing discovery, for, once found, it’s the end of the search. But it’s not really the end, it’s actually the beginning.