I believe true beauty starts from within, works its way out and is an ever-evolving process. I have worked very hard on my body and mind, trying to refrain from the blahs, and negative thinking patterns. When I was presented, ‘gifted actually,’ the awesome mind-blowing, opportunity of a lifetime to visit The Chopra Center years ago by my BFF, to experience Panchakarma, I hopped on a plane.
A seven day, full immersion spiritual experience, one uncomplicated week of healing, detox, yoga, healthy eating, uninterrupted mind, body tune-up, and quality time with my girl, with no real life distractions sounded pretty awesome. And, it was.
Our trip remains one of the highlights checked off from my Bucket List, a cherished memory at The Chopra Center in Carlsbad, California. Many of the practices and healing tools I learned, I incorporate into my lifestyle today. My quest for optimum health and serenity, raw, and authentic beauty continues on a daily basis.
Here’s a breakdown; some of the highlights from our trip and seven days spent in pure bliss balls.
Panchakarma is a week of full immersion, a detox of body, mind, and spirit, and Panchakarma is not for sissies. Days are packed with yoga, meditation, lectures, enlightenment, Ayurvedic meals, doctor consults, herbs and basti enemas (yeah, the enema part not so fun, but apparently necessary to rid the body of toxins and years of bad habits). We got through the week, the uncomfortable body-mind experience with much belly laughter and giggles. Everyone at The Chopra Center from the staff to the teachers and massage therapists could not have been more accommodating. We met all kinds of interesting people from around the globe with fascinating and tragic stories, each with a specific past all going through the same process. We laughed, we cried, we bonded as if she and I could be any closer. I’m the loosely absent, lax godmother to her child although she may have a few more dependable backups in place, smart move on her part. The hot oil Abhy massages specific to your dosha, made up for the gassy stomach, wicked, detox headaches and irritable mood swings. I wasn’t completely on board, especially during Primordial Sound Meditation. To have to sit still, with my racing thoughts meditating in silence, no way.
As the days passed too quickly, I noticed the smallest physical shifts and positive mindset sinking in. I woke up in the mornings with a smile, something she had not witnessed in years, and I was happy on the inside for the first time in ages. The muscles on my face softened, and I surrendered giving up the internal fight. She and I had spent twenty years together roaming the globe happy and carefree as models. She is my person and favorite partner in crime.
We’ve wracked up the miles, her and I; the good, the bad and the ugly. Real life dramedy together, and separately, collectively healing our bodies and minds, forever in pursuit of the prettiest seas, and biggest dreams.
Carlsbad, The Chopra Center and La Costa Resort and Spa is located in ‘the sweet spot of the universe.’ The majestic ocean, the mighty cliffs, and dolphins are just five minutes away. The Chopra Center, surrounded by lush grounds, palm trees, bougainvillea, and water fountains helped calm the chaotic mind instantly. It’s the perfect place to get back to basics, and in touch with your unique spirituality. A tranquil setting, where a person’s beauty radiates effortlessly from within and shines brightly on their skin and everyone around them. We even got to meet Deepak who was kind, groovy and stopped to chat. Now, that was wicked cool.
When she and I returned to our respective homes, and back to our busy lives, I was once again buried deep in the snow, and bitter freeze of The Finger Lakes. Hangin’ with Deepak, going back to Cali. became my mantras and ‘Moksha,’ a favorite, frequently used word. ‘Also spelled mokṣa, also called mukti, in Indian philosophy and religion, liberation from the cycle of death and rebirth (samsara). Derived from the Sanskrit word muc (“to free”), the term moksha literally means freedom from samsara.’
My BFF and I affectionately refer to our California dream week often and in haste, while playing phone tag during a superfast, preoccupied weekly catchup. (Hers is way busier than mine, busy with a teen- angster, saving the planet, and making the world a better place for fur babies.) We refer to our time in Cali and life as, “It’s a Rock, Roll and a Break,” a chapter lovingly added to my story.
I wrote, and self-published, The Vast Landscape, creative non-fiction set in real life, creating a magical, mystical world in my imagination, by the beach that I could revisit as often as needed, and whenever I liked.
The Cove was inspired by our time spent in Encinitas, at The Chopra Center, the majestic beauty and sweeping landscapes of the sea, California dreamin’, sisterhood, forever BFFs, love, hope, redemption, and my personal quest for beauty and simplicity amidst the chaos of life. Harrison, the protagonist is my best-self aspirations, and perfect fantasy life by the sea, where dreams and reality coincide harmoniously.
I’d finally found a happy home and soul purpose, inside the writing.
The sea, sunshine, healing elements, and our time together being pampered in luxury remain a favorite shared beach experience. We’ve spent many days at many beaches, laughing, relaxing and worry-free. Although the trips have become less and less frequent, our shared love of the ocean, all things mystical, and life remains separated only by time, oceans and telephone lines.
Though I’m no longer in California, dreaming of a beach, clapboard houses by the sea filled with love, friends and family I’m following my bliss, riding the waves, and searching for joy every mindful step of the way, and playing phone tag with my girl.
“The Vast Landscape” Amazon Review:
5.0 out of 5 STARS Fall In Love With A Not-So-Ordinary Love Story —Dori Owen
“The beautifully written novel, Jacqueline Cioffa weaves protagonist Harrison’s lifetime in chapters so artfully crafted they could almost read as standalone prose. Harrison is an original, not-too-soon-be-forgotten character who rejects an ordinary life for a spree across Europe’s capitals as a successful runway model. Her two close friends enable this jet-set lifestyle and return year’s later as lifelong true friends. Cioffa’s scenery, characters, and drama take you on a wild ride through Europe, and a return to the U.S. via seamy Hollywood, Beverly Hills, and then finally to a place of Harrison’s redemption.”
That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it. Ladies, never ever quit your dreams, help each along the way, you never know how or where joy might find you, and become a different way of life.
Why not take a chance, and discover your bliss, there’s a retreat coming up with Elizabeth Gilbert, who penned her owned magical journey writing, “Eat Pray, Love.”
The universe is always conspiring, working in mysterious and wonderful ways when you open your heart wide. Thanks, Deepak.
“Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.” ― Rumi
With all the items on your ever-growing to-do list, is joy one of them? Chances are . . . it’s not.
If you’re like most women today, you’re stretched thin between the demands of work, family, and making sure to care for everyone around you—with high standards for success and too little time for rest or fun. As a result, many of us feel stuck, drained, numb, and resigned to just get through each passing day. And the thought of living energetically and joyfully from our most creative center seems far from the daily reality.
Wouldn’t you like to know the solution—a spiritual solution—to every one of life’s challenges . . . solutions so powerful that they will allow you to let go of struggle, move past fear, and start living with greater success and joy? That’s the power of Spiritual Solutions for Women—a Chopra Center event co-created and led by the world-renowned expert on mind-body medicine, Deepak Chopra, to help you discover solutions you can use to shift the course of your life toward happiness, fulfillment, and joy.’
Photo: ©Jacqueline Cioffa All Rights Reserved