Whether you choose to admit it or not, we all long for a retreat. We dream about lying in a hammock, a view of white sandy beaches and palm trees in sight…hello paradise! We dream of vibrant health, freedom, and joy; a world where nothing matters more than the present moment; in the hammock, in that yoga class or sipping on this morning’s green juice.
We long for times of one page to-do lists, where the pressures of the world are lifted, and where we feel relaxed, refreshed, and renewed on a daily basis.
The reality is, this isn’t the way the world works these days. Whilst the need for doing, achieving and succeeding have increased, our bodies and well-being have been left by the way-side. They can’t keep up, and honestly there’s no goddamn reason why they should have to. We were not built to be run off our feet, day in and day out.
We have become so conditioned to live in the future that we spend our days waiting for the weekend, our months waiting for the next holiday, and our lives waiting for happiness. It seems that while we’re so busy making a ‘living’, we’ve forgotten how to live.
With this realisation, it dawned on me – we don’t just crave the literal act of leaving where we are to escape to a tropical island, we crave the feelings we get when going on a retreat; the freedom, the relaxation, the radiating health. So why not implement some of the things we do on a retreat into our daily lives and start living? Like, actually living. Thriving and flourishing, glowing with health, beaming with happiness. Feeling relaxed, centred and free, every day of our lives?
With this in mind, I have complied 10 simple steps to integrate a little retreat into your day:
Have a morning routine and stick to it. Don’t have time? Set your alarm 20 minutes earlier so that you can actually sit, be present and enjoy your breakfast. Gone are the days of cramming a sloppy piece of toast down your throat while running out the door. The morning struggle gets easier, I promise. And I’ll let you in on a secret: there’s something magical about being awake while the rest of the world sleeps. Get up, pour yourself a cup of tea, make yourself a nourishing breakfast and start the day on a calm and collected note. Retreats are built on mindfulness and ritual, and the knowing that when you start your day with intention, the rest of the day will follow.
Literally. Stop to smell the roses. Is there a garden nearby that you would ordinarily walk past without a second glance? Maybe you haven’t even noticed because you’ve been so absorbed in reciting your to-do list over and over as you walk. Seek one out if this is the case. Once you are there, stop and listen to the bees sing. Take in the colours of the garden and the sweet flowery fragrance. Like the wise Buddha once said: “If we could see the miracle of a flower clearly, our whole lives would change”. Take the time to appreciate the simple things, ensuring you don’t miss out on life’s greatest pleasures. Admire the street art that you would normally miss while scrolling through your newsfeed, perhaps stop to watch the busker that you’ve absent-mindedly walked past every day for the past twelve months; may his music enlighten you and open up your heart.
One word: technology. While it has its time and place in our modern society, technology is notorious for robbing us of the present moment. Give your phone a rest. Let it sleep, let yourself sleep instead of scrolling mindlessly until 1 am. Stop viewing people’s latest holiday snaps and get out there and see it for yourself. Disconnect from FaceWorld for a while and reconnect with the marvellous world around you or, better yet, within you.
And I don’t mean go and jump out of a plane or go swimming with sharks, I mean shake things up a little. Get uncomfortable. Try something new. Going to a retreat can be confronting for many people; they are chanting some foreign word ‘OM’ without knowing its meaning, downward dogging and stretching and flexing their new unexperienced muscles. Experiment with some mindful colouring, tai chi or a guided meditation. And while it may feel uncomfortable at first, remember that everything you have mastered began with a ‘first go’. Remember: ‘if you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get the same result’. So, switch it up and see what happens – I dare ya!
Food + Fitness = Two of the most important ingredients to a stress free and vibrant life, and two of the biggest focuses of any good health retreat. This is no coincidence, food and fitness quite literally shape your life, both physically and mentally. Up the ante on your physical activity and eat the rainbow. Not only will you start to feel amazing, but you’ll look amazing too!
And don’t feel guilty about it! You want that piece of raw cake? Girl, you eat that piece of raw cake! But eat it mindfully, enjoy every goddamn morsel of almond, date and sweet sweet deliciousness. Enjoy the experience and the joy that it brings. Just make sure that this treat is coming from a place of love and nourishment, and not a place of punishment and fear. Eat it, enjoy it, and do NOT regret it. Let that little treat light you up, and move on. Next?
Each season breeds an abundance of delicious and nourishing foods. Mother Nature is one smart cookie and provides us with exactly the right foods we need where and when we need them. In summer, she encourages fresh fruit and light salads. In autumn, she bears root veggies and stone fruit. Winter is the time for wholesome soups, and soul warming curries. And spring is the time to lighten up, preparing for the warmer weather and the dreaded bikini season. The seasons are there for a reason. Let Mother Nature be your guide and she will never fail you, I promise.
Can’t make it to coffee with your girlfriends? It’s OKAY. There’s always a next time. Five minutes late to work? It’s OKAY. Set an earlier alarm tomorrow. Dropped your phone in a glass of water? It’s replaceable…or in need of some rice soaking – seriously, it works! The sun will continue to rise and your heart will keep on beating. Don’t sweat the small stuff. Dwelling on things is a waste of precious energy and time. Let it go my dear friend, and keep on truckin’.
Every day when you wake, you are given the choice of how you want to view the world. Will it be grey and miserable, filled with unfairness and suffering? Or will it be fruitful with love, opportunity and light? When on a retreat, it’s pretty hard to be as negative as we are in our day to day lives, after all – you’re only surrounded by beautiful things, and life is relatively simple. But guess what? Things really aren’t that bad in your ‘normal’ life either. You just get too caught up in the stress and worry of the rat race that you ignore the good. When I was a kid, we had a big quote plastered on the wall in front of the toilet. As a girl, I read this every time I went to the bathroom. And being a girl, this was a lot. You know how they make you write lines at school when you’ve done something naughty, so that you’ll never EVER forget it? Well, imagine reading a quote every time you sat down to pee. It has well and truly become part of my being, a sacred mantra of my everyday life. You can read the quote here. Now print that out and stick it on your toilet wall. You can thank me later.
Get out your diary and pencil in some ‘me’ time. You schedule in dates with other friends and family, so who’s to say you can’t pencil in some time with yourself? Taking time to reconnect with #1 (yes, that’s you…not the cat) is one of the most important practices to bring into your life. We all need time to reset and reconnect. You’re not ‘too busy’ and it’s not that you ‘don’t have enough time’, you’ve simply not made self-care a priority in your life right now. But let me tell you, when you take time out for #1, you become a more loyal friend, a more patient mother, a more reliable co-worker and a much more loving partner. You need to fill your own cup up FIRST, so that you have more to give. You need to allow time with yourself so that you can relax, refresh and renew.
Want to check out the Retreat Yourself Box for yourself? Download a FREE copy of our Autumn RY Wellness Guide here to see what we’re all about.
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