Mary Pafford Week At Gray Bear: What Sustains Your Truth?

04/29/2014 00:00

By Tonya Cardente,Yoga Instructor and Presence Seeker


If you haven’t experienced the healing power of a trip to Grey Bear Lodge in Hohenwald, TN, don’t miss out! Gray Bear offers many programs, weekend retreats, workshops, and personalized options to get away and recharge. I was fortunate enough to attend a week- long retreat this spring with Mary Paffard. I confess that the enchantment of Gray Bear was enough to lure me in to this experience, but it was the question, “What Sustains Your Truth?” that captured me.

 There is a lot of hype out there in Yoga Land. As a yoga teacher, it can be overwhelming at times to consider and factor in all the demands of creating a practice for your students. I often get so caught up in teaching that I neglect my creative needs in my own practice.  Is it any wonder that I showed up at this retreat dry, weary, and wrung out? Poured out is how I felt, a far cry from, “sustained”.  Here was my truth in the present.

Little did I know that Mary is a magical, creative, yoga ninja that came on the scene like some sort of personal Santa Claus for yoga teachers like me! She came to give graciously, abundantly, freely, openly, honestly, and whole-heartedly. Now that’s my kind of present! To say spending a week in her company surrounded by an equally amazing group of yogis and yoginis was a gift would be understating my experience.  I was about to receive the present of presence.

I am a human being, not a human doing. When was the last time I checked in with myself, my breath, my thoughts, my heart, my practice anyway? I’m not talking about the cursory check that is customary to all yoga teachers.  How about entering in to a period of silence to find out? That’s exactly what we did. Oh there was daily yoga practice, sitting meditation, walking meditation, metta meditation, and more to this retreat, but the real present came wrapped up and specially delivered to each of us during presence. There is so much power in silence, to be still and to know. You cannot sustain that which you do not know.

Satya (truth) is a practice of slowing down, filtering, carefully considering our words so that when we choose them, they can reflect our truth.  It is the overflow of the heart that speaks through the mouth creating words, expressions, and utterances. Silence helps us to tap in to the reserves of our heart. Talk isn’t cheap it takes energy. The question for me was, “How wisely is my energy being used?” My present unwrapped revealed my truth. One of my fellow yogi’s wrote the following poem sharing his present with us on our day to break silence:

The Gray Bear

Winter's darkness eased as springs' light emerged

A rumble in the distant sky 

warned of cleansing to come

The Gray Bear began to work its magic.


Outside, The dogwood blooms emerged

Reborn anew for another year

Faith too blooms again, sure of what it hopes for

And certain of what it cannot see


Inside, forgotten pathways lead deep 

into the dark woods of the soul

Uneven, muddy, slippery ground, 

The heart remembers what it longs for


Earth, water, fire and air

The wolves of transformation

Come fourth into consciousness

Signaling~guardianship, ritual, loyalty and spirit


The Gray Bear winters in the heart

Warm sun rays end hibernation 

Rested and renewed

It shares its love again.


by Kirk Fuller


 It is my practice that what I am taught, I share in all the good things with those who teach me. It is was a grateful heart that I share my time at Grey Bear with all of you my fellow teachers. Thank you Adam and Diann for being who are in all that you do and for facilitating such an enriching and inspiring environment at Grey Bear. I hope to be with you again soon!

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