Featured Guest: Marlene Boyette, A Recipient of Rest

As a registered and certified Trauma Informed yoga instructor and wellness practitioner, offering support to children within an elementary school setting, and to adults within, and beyond, the city of Boston on a full time basis, so much of my energy is focused on holding space for others. 

Although I do my best to be intentional about maintaining my own self-care rituals, over the last several months, the pandemic and the increase in racial tensions have brought about an increase in a need / demand for wellness services, meaning my workload has been almost tripled. As a Black woman, this all has felt like extremely heavy and necessary service, but I’d be lying if I said that some of my self-care practices haven’t suffered. 

Culturally, I know that many people of color are conditioned / socialized to believe that we must carry and endure the heaviness of all situations in life, never complaining, never (or rarely) resting. I thought that I had done my due diligence with retraining my brain to believe otherwise, through my training as a yoga instructor, but as the weight of everything began to show itself in my thoughts and the tension in my physical body, I realized that is not truly the case.

I know the value of and importance of self-care and creating space for respite. My home has always been my sanctuary; a location intentionally created to be a source of inspiration, a place where I rest, restore and find joy. However, transforming my space into a virtual yoga studio and office has made it challenging to experience it in the same peaceful manner. When able, I seek time to venture out and enjoy the green spaces within my neighborhood, which I’m blessed to have access to, but so many of my thoughts have been focused on what is happening in the world. Even in the spaces that had served as an escape, I noticed that I hadn’t been able to be fully present and enjoy my surroundings. This has been challenging because I have always found such peace when out and about in nature.

The announcement that I’d been nominated and selected for the 100 Nights of Rest program came as a complete shock, but was in perfect alignment with my needs at that moment. I had no idea about the giveaway, although I’d been following Getaway for some time and had daydreamed about finding the time to travel to an outpost. To be nominated by someone who had been such a big supporter of me as an individual, my work as a wellness practitioner, and someone who had been championing for me, even before I was certified, touched my heart deeply. You never know who is following your work, and very few folks will truly understand the depth of dedication that you may have to it. I was and still am deeply moved by the gesture and acknowledgment.

Traveling to New Hampshire for my Getaway House experience came at the perfect time. This trip allowed me the opportunity to separate myself from the act of service to others, in order to provide care to myself in a dedicated space. I decided to go just before returning to teach within my school community, after teaching remotely online since March. I was able to enjoy all of the elements that I love most about being outdoors and camping, which I hadn’t done in so long. Being at the outpost felt like a deep exhale to both my mind and my entire body.  Looking up at the stars while fireside brought me back to my childhood; back to moments that I would spend outdoors admiring the moon and the stars, which I view as my first experiences of mindfulness.

I was able to rise slowly in the morning, which I also do at home, but was so happy to look at the windows of the cabin and be surrounded by trees. I took the time to practice yoga and make breakfast, without the interruption of texts or social media or emails. Before heading back to Boston, I went for a hike and took in lots of fresh air, which is so much easier to appreciate when practicing pranayama (yogic breathing). This trip slowed me down, which was something I hadn’t realized I needed until I was there. Prior to the trip, I felt that what I was doing to take care of my own needs was enough, but the time away brought about the realization that I deserved so much more in terms of self-care.

Since I’ve returned home from my Getaway experience, I’ve adjusted my schedule and added more time to be outside, more time to detach from technology and screens and more time to practice yoga. I’ve been making an effort to recreate the experiences that I had in New Hampshire and incorporate them into my weekly schedule, so that even when I’m unable to physically get away, I have a retreat space available. That is until the next opportunity to travel to Getaway presents itself.