Somehow it’s November and only eight weeks from now we’ll be saying ‘Happy New Year’—some a little more cheerfully than others.
Does this excite you? Or after thinking through everything you want to accomplish in the next few weeks does it overwhelm you? Regardless of which camp you’re in imagine pulling back from your never-ending to-do list, from saying “yes” when all you want to do is say “no,” and from all the daily distractions that are getting in the way of who you want to be.
Imagine knowing that you were living up to your potential, that you were making a bigger difference to those around you and that you were well on your way toward happiness, fulfillment and freedom.
Does it feel like a tall order?
Not sure where you’d even start?
According to Wikipedia, the word “retreat” comes from the latin verb, “to pull back.” Although the word stems from ancient days as military strategy it’s relevant today. If we don’t retreat from the heavy responsibilities of adulthood—from consoling cranky kids to attending mandatory company happy hours—and focus on self-care, it’s really hard to put our best foot forward in everything else that we do.
There are many ways to pull back and when you do, you get to deepen into you.
Want to enhance your yoga practice? There’s a retreat for that. Want to do a bicycle tour through a culinary region of Italy? There’s another retreat for that. Learn to hula hoop? Yes. That retreat was held in Boulder, CO. last year. I know…because I attended it.
A few months ago I decided to design and lead a wellness retreat that I myself would like to attend. It had to be rooted in the principles of functional medicine and leave the attendees feeling heard, energized, and restored.
Before I knew it there were 15 of us sitting around a circle. We were eager, fully present, and compassionate toward the vulnerability being shared around the room. I hosted BLOOM, my wellness retreat in a beautiful room full of large windows. I combined music, movement, journaling, and visioning—all various forms of nourishment—to create a meaningful experience designed to awaken the attendees to their wellness potential.
Women from all over the area came for connection and community, observed, learned and grew, and loved and felt loved…before returning home.
Would you, too, benefit by unplugging and reseting?
Does a retreat sound good to you? Attend a retreat or create your own.
For the DIYers, here are 5 simple steps to execute your very own restorative retreat:
Take care of the logistics. Look at your calendar and decide on a day within the next 2 weeks that you can set aside a large chunk of time. Aim for at least three hours. Tell anyone who depends on you that you won’t be available during that timeframe. On your retreat day, once you’ve put away your phone, kick things off by creating an ambiance rooted in sound and smell. What do you want to listen to? Something uplifting? Introspective? And what do you want to smell? Consider adding essential oils like pine or lemongrass to your diffuser—to connect your senses to nature.
Start your retreat off with a mediation. Consider using the following: Close your eyes and imagine a life where you’re in the flow. Everything is in synch. You’re not stuck. Or overwhelmed. You feel a sense of peace about your being. You trust the wisdom of your body. You’re flexible, strong and balanced. Your outsides match your insides. You choose foods that help you thrive. You’re one with the breath of life. You feel lighter. Yet settled. You’re full of energy. You’re vibrant, focused and healthy. You’re happy. Life is GOOD. Feel the gratitude. Feel the contentment this brings. Open your eyes and journal about the experience.
Practice deep belly breathing. Breathe in for a count of 4, hold for a count of 7, and then release for a count of 8. Do this 4 times. According to The Institute for Functional Medicine, when we exhale longer than we inhale we activate our parasympathetic system through our vagus nerve. This is very restorative for mind, body, and spirit health.
Get creative about the life you want to have. Ask yourself, what’s your purpose? Are you where you want to be or would you benefit by making a course correction? Look through a magazine and cut out images or words that get you excited about your future. Find things that depict the type of nutrition, exercise + movement, sleep + relaxation, relationships and stress transformation behavior you’d like to incorporate into your life. Limit yourself to 5 cut-outs, one for each of the 5 areas above. Glue these pictures on an 8x10 piece of paper. On the back of the paper write a mantra. This is a positive phrase—its purpose is to provide encouragement to you when you need to focus your mind to achieve your goals and get closer to your dreams. Conclude this step by answering these 3 questions in your journal: 1. When thinking about your health + wellness, what matters most to you and why? 2. What would help you move forward? 3. What are three actions you can start doing this week to get closer to your vision?
Thank the co-creators of your life experience. You’re the author of your life, but who else is helping you write your chapters, for good and for bad? Who is the one person that is making the most valuable contribution to your identity right now? For me it’s my parents. When I decided to leave the safety net of the corporate world instead of trying to stop me, they asked me for more details. They listened to my ideas. They brainstormed with me. They asked how could they help. Journal about this person or these people. Then consider writing him, her, or them a thank you note for their positive influence.
So go ahead, throw caution to the wind, and take some time out for you. Give yourself the gift of a retreat. These intentional pauses, although short in duration, are powerful. You can live the life you’ve always dreamed about, on your terms.