Darnell Lamont Walker leading Rituals Writing Workshop
INSIGHTS: Retreat, Restore, and Live the Future You Desire with Deborah Eden Tull
Deborah Eden Tull takes a moment to slow down in nature

Do your actions today reflect your personal vision for the future? If the answer is no, there’s one thing that could be standing in your way: your daily pace. Does each day feel like a race, or is conscious action plentiful and present?

“We restore ourselves by slowing down and paying attention,” says Deborah Eden Tull, author, founder of Mindful Living Revolution, and a Zen meditation teacher. “When we slow down enough to listen to our bodies, we can respond consciously.”

These concepts are critical to women’s health, especially after 16 months of pandemic life. Recent reports and studies confirmed that women suffered more stress, depression, and anxiety disproportionately during the pandemic by absorbing additional duties in caregiving and housework. By some accounts, the responsibility and output was three times as much as men (for a heterosexual relationship). The pandemic impact is present each day, but can also carry forward into the future.

In her upcoming workshop, Tull calls out to women to tackle the challenges of slowing down, carving out personal time, and creating actions that will shape a desired future. 

Her workshop, Relational Mindfulness, Power, and the Deep Feminine: An Experiential and Restorative Retreat for Women, is August 30 - September 3, 2021. Through restorative practices, mindfulness, dance, ritual, and more, she guides a women-centric workshop to create more balance and restore a life that’s less draining and more nourishing.

Tull shared some thoughts on how to notice signs of imbalance, and offered tools for restoration.

Christine Chen: Do you think it is a critical time of transition for us, as a society? 

Deborah Eden Tull: As ripe a time of transition as humanity has ever known. There is a yearning for wholeness beyond the busyness, division, and polarization that humanity has invested in for so long. As we recognize the intersectionality of the social and ecological challenges we face today, people are waking up to the importance of engaging in both the inner and outer work required to heal the myth of separation. And to remember who we actually are. 

CC: Would you describe this time as an opportunity to transform our life, family, and work? How? 

DET: Spiritual traditions across the world recognize “dark times” — periods which appear as the absence of light, as a profound invitation for growth. In times of perceived darkness, our familiar comfort and sense of security become disrupted, and we find ourselves navigating the unknown. While it can feel like there is nothing to hold onto while swimming through the mysterious tides of change, it is because we have nothing familiar to hold onto that we can open our hearts to fresh perception. These moments can become the most potent opportunities for insight, healing, and transformation that we have ever experienced. 

CC: Many people suffer from burnout and fatigue from chronic productivity. How do we restore ourselves? 

DET: Attention is the most subtle form of love there is. Our body is our natural feedback system — for taking care of ourselves, each other, and our planet. Collectively, we must also let go of conditioning, perpetuated through generations, that values speed, productivity and reaching the end goal over attunement, slowing down, and honoring the process of life. 

CC: What are the key signs we are not living in balance and not giving ourselves the opportunity to restore?

DET: It can sound selfish to prioritize restoration, but it is the least selfish act we can engage in. How we treat ourselves and how we treat our world are one and the same. When we let ourselves become depleted, off-centered, stressed, and run down, it impacts how we treat one another and how we treat our planet. The practice of presence allows us to recognize the first signs of depletion in ourselves and make a more conscious choice in that moment. 

We might notice our body quietly nudging us that it is time to pause...slow down...or rest.  We might notice the subconscious motivation to keep going, to ignore our fatigue (mentally or physically) — and push ourselves.  If we are observant, we might notice the initial moment that stress begins to build before we become overwhelmed. We might also notice the moment we shift from feeling present and fluid in our bodies to rigidity or constriction. We can allow our bodies to be our teachers for learning to balance productivity with attunement.

CC: How do we connect these dots to the future we envision for ourselves? 

DET: As our world changes physically and socio-politically, as more and more people feel uprooted by global uncertainty, more people are ready to dream a bigger dream for humanity. We long for greater depth and for knowing ourselves as part of the inter-dependent nexus of nature’s intelligence. We long for an alternative to the hyper-active, hyper-urban consumer lifestyle. We long for a more equitable world. We long for restoration and the sustained quality of presence that affirms our belonging to ourselves, each other, and our planet.

CC: Does a consistent practice open the door for us to flourish? How?

DET: Absolutely. Meditation is a practice for seeing clearly, from the heart. Engaged meditation dissolves our fixed sense of self and the limiting beliefs we have invested in, allowing us to experience a more awake, fluid, responsive, and collaborative relationship with life.

When we stop giving our life force to limiting beliefs, we reclaim a tremendous amount of vitality, resiliency, courage, and compassion. We step beyond the small self and can give ourselves wholeheartedly to both personal and collective transformation.

Learn more about Deborah Eden Tull and register for her workshop here.

Deborah Eden Tull in movement at Joshua Tree National Park

“Remembering to be as self compassionate as I can and praying to the divine that we're all a part of.” 

“Prayer, reading, meditation, walking.”
“Erratically — which is an ongoing stream of practice to find peace.”
“Try on a daily basis to be kind to myself and to realize that making mistakes is a part of the human condition. Learning from our mistakes is a journey. But it starts with compassion and caring. First for oneself.”

“Physically: aerobic exercise, volleyball, ice hockey, cycling, sailing. Emotionally: unfortunately I have to work to ‘not care’ about people or situations which may end painfully. Along the lines of ‘attachment is the source of suffering’, so best to avoid it or limit its scope. Sad though because it could also be the source of great joy. Is it worth the risk?“

“It's time for my heart to be nurtured on one level yet contained on another. To go easy on me and to allow my feelings to be validated, not judged harshly. On the other hand, to let the heart rule with equanimity and not lead the mind and body around like a master.”

“I spend time thinking of everything I am grateful for, and I try to develop my ability to express compassion for myself and others without reservation. I take time to do the things I need to do to keep myself healthy and happy. This includes taking experiential workshops, fostering relationships, and participating within groups which have a similar interest to become a more compassionate and fulfilled being.“

“Self-forgiveness for my own judgments. And oh yeah, coming to Esalen.”
–David B.

“Hmm, this is a tough one! I guess I take care of my heart through fostering relationships with people I feel connected to. Spending quality time with them (whether we're on the phone, through messages/letters, on Zoom, or in-person). Being there for them, listening to them, sharing what's going on with me, my struggles and my successes... like we do in the Esalen weekly Friends of Esalen Zoom sessions!”

“I remind myself in many ways of the fact that " Love is all there is!" LOVE is the prize and this one precious life is the stage we get to learn our lessons. I get out into nature, hike, camp, river kayak, fly fish, garden, I create, I dance (not enough!), and I remain grateful for each day, each breath, each moment. Being in the moment, awake, and remembering the gift of life and my feeling of gratitude for all of creation.”
“My physical heart by limiting stress and eating a heart-healthy diet. My emotional heart by staying in love with the world and by knowing that all disappointment and loss will pass.“
–David Z.

Today, September 29, is World Heart Day. Strike up a conversation with your own heart and as you feel comfortable, encourage others to do the same. As part of our own transformations and self-care, we sometimes ask for others to illuminate and enliven our hearts or speak our love language.

What if we could do this for ourselves too, even if just for today… or to start a heart practice, forever?


Christine Chen

Christine Chen is the host of Esalen Live! and Chief Editor of The Journal. She is a two-time Emmy winning journalist, best-selling author, California native, and senior teacher of yoga and Ayurveda on Esalen Faculty.