Ever wanted to go to a wellness retreat? Be it yoga, meditation, massage, holistic health, the choices are endless. Retreats can be an expensive expedition, and you often feel amazing while you’re away, but then come back to reality and forget to implement all your learnings into your everyday life. Before you know it, your phone is again attached to you like a third limb, your mind is wandering all the time, and you’ve been to yoga only once this week.
I recently spent a long weekend up at the Byron Yoga Centre. In light of that retreat, I wanted to share how I’ve learnt to create my own retreat here at home, and how you too can create your own oasis to escape anytime you like.
If you’re currently experiencing an overwhelming urge to pack your bags and permanently escape reality (while a supported idea!) there are a few ways to bring the retreat to your life here, and prepare you to confront the world refreshed, renewed and revitalised.
Set Aside 4-7 Hours A Week for YOU
While the movie “Yes Man” taught us a lot about embracing new adventures, society has almost gone too far in saying “yes” to everything. When was the last time you said “yes” to something, but really didn’t want to go? Learning to say “no” is both empowering and one of the main ways to help you recharge. But it is also hard! Having scheduled downtime is key to rebooting the system and making sure that everything you have said “yes” to is enjoyed. Schedule time in your diary for YOU that you treat like any other important meeting – it is non-negotiable and cannot be moved. This may just be 30 minutes before bed where you read your latest book, or an hour on Saturday mornings before heading out for brunch. Use this time how you like it and sometimes to do NOTHING. It is amazing what an hour a day can do for your overall wellbeing.
Give Yourself a Technology Detox
While in Byron, I turned off my phone for a whole 56 hours (not that I was counting!). It was blissful. Not having to answer to anyone. Not feeling the desire to check what I’d missed on all social media channels. Not needing to take a photo of everything I was doing. Heaven. It’s probably not realistic for us to all throw our phones away and revert to snail mail to communicate. However, you can integrate a technology detox into your day. Have set hours where your phone is OFF. 8pm-8am. They are my new hours. I am uncontactable in that time. I do not access any social mediums in that time. My brain is switched off from technology. Giving yourself the permission to switch off is like your own recharging time. See what hours you can play with and start to build it up till you have 12 hours of detox a day.
Work On Your Sleeping Patterns
With all the time you’ll now have away from your phone you can use it to work out your sleeping patterns. I used to be a night owl, up all hours, but felt terrible waking up in the morning. The retreat had us up every morning at 5.30am which was a big shock to the system! But its a trend I’ve continued in my daily life, and its revolutionised how I spend my time. That’s not to say everyone should be waking up at 5.30am, but it is a good reminder to look at the quantity, quality and patterns of our sleep. Figure out what your ideal hours are and stick to them like an appointment!
Integrating Meditation and Yoga
Coming home after spending four hours a day practising yoga and countless hours in the depths of meditation, I vowed that it would cross over into my life at home. None of us have the time to be spending hours in the strength of Warrior 2 pose or on a grassy patch meditating with our thoughts. But we can find small snippets of time. I now meditate on my commute – 20 minutes on the bus ride in and 20 minutes home. There is something tranquillising about the hum of the bus, and with my earphones in and sunglasses on, no one else knows the better! You also don’t need to join a prestigious yoga studio to feel the benefits of a daily practice. Even the franchise gyms have caught on, and places like Fitness First have LOADS of yoga classes. Once you know a few moves you can integrate this into your daily routine (now that you’re getting up so much earlier) and throughout the day in your breaks (see my previous blog on how to integrate movement into the office). Little additions here and there quickly add up till you find yourself managing to fit an hour of meditation and yoga easily into your schedule.
Take A Look At Your Eating Habits
I am going to make it clear up front – I am not a vegetarian. When I learnt that the weekend retreat was ONLY vegetarian food, I immediately thought I’d be eating lettuce and fruit for the weekend. The food turned out to be one of the highlights of the trip. The chefs creatively prepared some amazing dishes for our meals, and without the ability to fall back on the flavour from meat, the fresh ingredients could stand alone and be relished. While the weekend hasn’t turned me vegetarian, it has made me more creative in my own cooking, and curious as to the mixture of texture and flavours that I can produce in a vegetarian meal. I now take three days a week meat free. Try it for just one day – you’ll be amazed at the flavours.
One Day A Month
When I’m feeling extra indulgent, I allow myself a whole day to do all of the above. That is really bringing the retreat to you! Once a month (usually on a Sunday but sometimes a Monday) I go into full retreat mode. No phone for 24 hours. I go to yoga classes twice a day. I meditate throughout the day in little 20 minute pockets. I prepare delicious and creative vegetarian foods that I don’t have time for during the week. I read parts of my favourite books. At times I do NOTHING. Send your better half out for the day. If you have kids send them to a slumber party. Pets are allowed. Really allow yourself to have the space and the mindset to reboot. Trust me, your family / friends / colleagues will be asking you how you look so young, refreshed and zen all the time.
Sometimes you just need to get away and go on a retreat. And you should. Research where you want to go, the classes and options they offer you, and different cost scales. Set an intention for your retreat so you really get the most out of your time away. Then dive in. Head first. Give it your all. Retreats are like unicorns; they occur rarely and provide little nuggets of gold. So embrace them and then bring everything you’ve learnt back home!