by Antonella Brevig
In the spring of 2013 I made a journey that encompassed many miles, experienced a vibrant culture of people rich with history, and found a spiritual healing of my past that would ignite the future with passionate purpose.
I’m still not really sure how it happened, but there I sat in the moloka, our beautiful practice and ceremony space nestled beneath a waterfall at The Source Peru in the sacred valley of Cusco. In front of me was Fabian, a shaman with sparkly eyes and weathered skin, and between us an array of coca leaves to be read. The coca leaf is a sacred plant that is said to serve as an intermediary between the inner world (the Apu and the Pachamama) and the outer world (that of Man). When spread over a blanket on the ground, coca leaves are then “read” to give insight or predict the future. Alejandro, the shaman assistant and interpreter sat quietly alongside, as the boss man did his thing. And then there was me, wondering how I ended up here in this moment, instead of back home in Seattle taking care of kids, clients, laundry, and other domestic duties.
Was it irresponsible and selfish of me to leave everyone and everything behind for Peru? Only a 10 day trip, but to a mom taking even a day for yourself can seem unfathomable.
I thought back to the last time I saw my brother Jimmy (06/04/81-06/24/07), gift in hand with a beautiful necklace of hemp and serpentine stone from one of his many travels.
He had just returned from living in Cusco, and at 27 years old had seen and experienced more than most people do their whole lives.
Jimmy stared deeply into my eyes with his dark intensity and put the shaman-blessed treasure around my neck.
“You have to do this,” he said “See this place, go to Machu Picchu. GO ON ADVENTURES, Antonella.”
So skip ahead five years, and I’m on a yoga retreat hanging out with a shaman. I feel the vibration of this sacred space and remember the words my brother spoke. An energetic fire arose (one that had been strategically smothered for years), and I decided that no matter my householder duties, this was exactly where I needed to be. Sorry, no spoiler on the content of my coca reading (that part is just for me), but the words he spoke and this trip as a whole proved to be life changing.
And it set me on a trajectory that I know my brother is so very proud of.
The days and years that would follow have not all been pretty or easy. A journey of spiritual sorts never is, I suppose. As I wade through challenges and discover success, there will always be that moment when the story changed. The monumental shift. On that trip I saw Machu Picchu, climbed the mountain top of Huayna Picchu and looked down at the ruins, a blanket of history and mystery. Exhausted and ill, I made that trek because I knew in my heart that I had to. All of the events of my life had been leading up to this. It was not suppose to be easy, there was some karma to tend to and the Inca goddess Pachamama was making that painfully known through every breath I took along the way.
Fast forward a couple more years and now I prepare a return to Peru, this time to co lead the yoga retreat with my teacher and friend Ali Valdez. I’m home with the kids next to me and it is a perfect moment in time. Bailey is wailing on her guitar, unabashed with emotion. Jackson sits alongside her, matching notes with his keyboard. These moments give me so much comfort and take me right back to the countless musical hours growing up with my little brother. He would passionately play the guitar and I’d attempt, eventually realizing that his was food for the soul and my music would take a different form. I write these words as the kids sing and play, similar I’m sure to a rural Peruvian family minus the techie conveniences and indie pop lyrics dancing in the air. But the words she sings are quite the same to what I felt in those mountains, being unraveled to the core by Pachamama.
“Sometimes you’ve got to bleed to know/That you’re alive and have a soul /But it takes someone to come around to show you how./She’s the tear in my heart, I’m alive/She’s the tear in my heart, I’m on fire/She’s the tear in my heart, take me higher /Than I’ve ever been.” ~(twenty one pilots)
I find myself humming along, the tapping of my laptop keys adding a bit to their musical duo. Bailey and Jackson’s creative souls and youthful sense of adventure inspires the words I write. Their sweet sibling friendship connects me to Jimmy and pushes me to live a life that is unabashedly and authentically me.
I hope that they grow up to be adventurers as well- in art, in love, in travels…wherever their version of Machu Picchu may be.
Where is your Machu Picchu? That place where you can leave behind the daily clutter and dive into the layers of self. Find your shaman. Is s/he on a retreat somewhere abroad? Or maybe nestled somewhere in you. Listen to the leaves and the earth. There is so much to hear and see in those coca leaves. Connect to who you are at the core and let it shine. GO ON AN ADVENTURE…
Antonella is first and foremost a mother, whether it’s to her two beautiful mini-yogi kids, her personal training clients that she’s been helping for over a decade, or her yoga students. Born and raised in the glorious state of Washington, she loves the beauty and connection of nature, taking yoga adventures into the great outdoors. With over 15 years of personal practice, this inversion junkie is no stranger to the world of yoga. She currently holds her 200hr ERYT from Sattva Yoga, of which she is now a faculty member, and is nearly finished with her 500hr path of the same lineage. A true blue Sattvist, Antonella is passionate about training yogis to become teachers and thrilled to lead adventurous retreats abroad. Keep an eye out for her as a #SattvicAmbassador playfully sharing her #yogiLove around the world. Find out more: www.antonellayoga.com