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Taking a little break every now and again is vital. Sometimes all we can get is a half hour of solo time while locked up in the laundry room folding socks. But when the stars align and you get a few days to get away, heading to a retreat can be the missing piece to bring together the whole wellness puzzle. The peace, the tranquility, the connection with others, and the closeness to nature will inevitably get your mindset reset and steering you down a path of renewed well-being.
As some of you may already know, I teach yoga and meditation. Last weekend, I even organized and hosted my very first weekend retreat. Although we did do some yoga and meditation each morning and afternoon, we also went hiking, did a vegetarian cooking workshop with a nutritionist, and took some time to just be still and connect. We chatted about mindfulness, about wellness and about life in Madrid. It was a beautiful experience.
And so, this morning, when I sat down to write this week’s article, all I had on the mind was the delightful remanents of this weekend’s retreat.
As I always say, there’s no sense in denying or rejecting what is, instead embrace your reality. So, this week, I’d love to nudge you towards the idea of taking a well-deserved break.
For many of us, our days are filled with giant to-do lists, which we accomplish by running around all day like chickens with our heads cut off. Connecting within is a luxury that our schedules don’t allow us to indulge in.
Instead of trying to find peace and connect within all that madness, a retreat can be the perfect escape from your regular context from where to reconnect. Even if it’s just a weekend retreat, the experience will undoubtedly help you to reset your mind to more easily find peace, optimism, and gratitude.
Not really sure what I mean by retreat? Retreats are like getaways you take to reconnect within and find peace. Some common types of retreat include:
- Yoga retreats
- Meditation retreats
- Silent retreats
- Spiritual retreats
- General wellness retreats
- Woman’s retreats
- Detox retreats
As I’ve recently come back from a retreat, the effects still feel alive within me. So it’s the opportunity to tell you about the main benefits that I tend to enjoy from escaping for a few days to care for my mental health. Maybe you’ll finally be convinced to head out of your own peace-seeking adventure.
1 Disconnect from fast pace city life
I don’t know about you, but I live in the center of an extremely busy city. Things move fast, there’s constant sounds, smells, commotion, and distractions. It can be a bit overwhelming at times; as though my senses yearn for breaks from the stimuli.
On a retreat, I get just that, a sensory hiatus. And with fewer distractions for the senses, I find it much easier to focus on the natural sights, smells, tastes and sounds around.
Also, I no longer need to move quick, talk quick, think quick and react even quicker. Finally, I get the space and context to slow down. At a slower pace, my words and actions feel much more conscious and deliberate.
2 Reconnect within
I’m regularly writing about the importance of connecting within (like this article about why to do it or this one about how to do it), but I understand that in “regular life” it can be hard to find the time or discipline to make it happen.
But unfortunately, it can be hard to consciously create the life path of your dreams unless you take the time to hear what your soul/intuition/inner voice has to say about it.
Retreats give you the space, both physical and mental space, to connect with that part of your essence.
3 Connect with like-minded folks
People that make the effort to sign up and get their butts to retreats are often times looking for similar things. Developing healthier mindsets, implementing a life pivot, taking some time to relax and learning to incorporate more peace and wellness into their lives can be just a few of the common reasons people unite in these contexts.
Differently than in “regular life”, people on retreats are often times more keen to open up honestly and caringly to share with others. This helps to naturally build solid, compassion-filled bonds between others you encounter in these contexts.
These connections built with others often leave me feeling supported, elevated and empowered. Post-retreat, these are the sensations that catapult me into feeling like I can do anything!
4 Connect with nature
Google tells me that 55% of the world’s population lives in cities. This means, more than half of us are probably not getting many opportunities during our weeks to see soaring trees, to smell invigorating forest scents or hear the birds chirping or the rustling of leaves moving in the wind.
It’s a shame too because being close to nature is one of the easiest ways to recharge our internal batteries. There is nowhere else, but a forest or a mountain where I will so easily feel completely connected with myself, and with the entire world; small insects, huge towering peaks and all.
I dare you to stand quietly amongst nature and try not to feel alive. I’m sure that the smells, the sounds, and wind on your face won’t let you.
5 Develop new habits, ideas or practices
This past weekend, through both casual conversations and planned activities we touched all types of wellness subjects; varied yoga styles, mindfulness, letting go of needing to control things, eating, cooking, intuition, sitting meditations, walking meditations, mind habits, consciousness, connection, community, life goals, health, exercise, conscious (non-violent) communication and tons more.
If you come together with a group of others who are also interested in wellbeing, it’s inevitable that you’ll walk away with a new vast variety of resources to help you move forward in a direction you’re excited about.
Then also, being reminded of the value of practices like meditation and mindfulness, yoga, or conscious eating, is often times all you need to incorporate (or reincorporate) them into your life.
Whether it’s a new found motivation to finally implement that daily meditation practice or info about a sweet blog that will help you find amazing vegetarian recipes, there’s no doubt you’ll walk away with new habits, ideas, practices, and resources.
6 Take a technology break
It’s nice to take mini technology breaks throughout the weeks. Sometimes, I make cellphone restriction for myself where I don’t allow myself to look at my phone for entire evenings. I do this because I notice that when I spend a lot of time looking at my phone, I feel tense, anxious and with an even bigger desire to look at it even more. The addiction gets fed and needs more fuel.
Having a few days to disconnect from all the technology that dominants our lives often come as a welcome treat. Taking some distance from your cell phone, computer and television is like unplugging from the source of the angst.
Some people even get nervous about the separation. But no one ever finishes a weekend saying that they missed their phones.
7 Get some quiet time
Often times, we are so disconnected from ourselves and what we want, because we never take the time to consciously hear what is going on in our minds. On retreats, you often find that space and stillness to hear your mind’s chatter.
What do you unconsciously stress out about, or what does your mind obsessively ramble on about. Sit down in silence and you’ll find out. Then, once you know, slowly you’ll start to build a better, closer bond with the you deep inside.
8 Reacquaint yourself with natural foods
Most retreats provide you with all your meals. And as retreats are often focused on wellness, you often get one meal after another of tasty, healthy, natural foods. Not only is this great to be able to enjoy tasty food that you don’t have to prepare yourself, but it’s often times quite inspiring to get reacquainted with how tasty and nourishing natural foods can be.
Surely you’ll walk away inspired to expand your existing repertoire of go-to healthy recipes.
9 Get a break
For a few days, you’ll have no responsibilities, no one will expect anything from you other than being present and sharing your experience with your fellow retreat goers. Enjoy your child-free, task-free, partner-free getaway time!
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