Last week I waved goodbye to my two small children, my husband and my businesses to venture to the middle of the jungle in the Philippines for 5 days of contemplation. This may not seem like the most rational idea! However, there was a method to my madness, let me explain!.
This year I coined the “Year of Wellness.” I understand that what you focus on, you fix and so I consciously cleaned my plate of many things that had snuck into my world in a bid to dedicate my time and energy to heal and find a greater level of wellbeing.
My life had become quite out of balance- I had two babies under three years old, a brand new business on top of my existing business, and low immunity caused by a bad dose of Meningitis a few years earlier. I was keen to rediscover the energy levels and simple joy that I previously knew to be normal and somehow couldn’t quite regain. I also have an upcoming wedding back in NZ this summer so wanted to shed a lot of unwanted weight that had accumulated after my multiple births!
So began a year long plan!
I wanted to share some of my own insights and tips that I have learned along the way in the hope that it may help you on your own retreat experience one day.
What always strikes me the most when I am on a retreat is how much of my identity comes from ‘doing’ and a love of ‘achieving.’ On retreat, unplugging can be challenging in my experience. I have had to find value in being idle and contemplative, in simply relaxing and letting go of the need to achieve.
Deep down I already know the immense health benefits that come from taking time out- that is how I started the business 15 years ago- when I was on my very first ever detox retreat in Ubud. I always have my most creative ideas when I retreat. The Palm Tree House, our new retreat business, also came from another period of retreat with my fiance ,and our latest venture Escape Haven Voyages (our new dive and yoga boat based retreats) came from an inspiration retreat I did with 7 girlfriends earlier in the year!
Quite simply, when we stop, remove the distractions and channel our creativity, these mindful moments allow for our inner brilliance to be downloaded.
Over the course of this year I have made a series of commitments to myself. I know the simpler they are, the easier they are to sustain. You’ll see below how small the steps were in a number of areas but together they made a huge impact not only on how I looked ( dropped 27kgs), how I worked and how I showed up in this world but to my overall mental health. I felt clear and happy even admist the chaos of a sometimes very busy life.
Here are what I refer to as the ‘Big 6’:
- Sleep – a bit of a foreign concept with small babies so I figured the only way was up. I go to bed by 9 and have started tracking the quality of my sleep. I do restful activities in the lead up to bed such as sunset beach walk, quiet dinner and a warm shower and hop into bed with my favourite candle burning.
- Nourish – on three levels – for the mind (inspiration and learning), the body (nutritious food) and the soul (things that fed my soul – meditation and beach walks)
- Hydrate – drinking 3 litres every day. Without hydration you have no health nor energy and this is a big mood enhancer. This had a great impact on my day to day life.
- Supplement – having diagnostic tests to understand my deficiencies the correcting them via supplements. Taking zinc, vitamin C and iron has made a huge difference for me.
- Play – life is busy, it was important to create time and space for fun things! This included lots of fun adventures with my husband, with friends and also things for myself. I also started surfing again and doing fitness.
- Be – I downloaded an app called Calm and committed to a daily 10 minute meditation. What a game changer!!
Aside from my own focal wellness points and goals, I also went on retreats a few times this year. Even retreat owners need retreats! I heard Melissa (Well & Good co-founder) speak in Singapore recently at the Global Wellness Summit. She spoke about how those in the wellness world are often the “walking wellness wounded.”
Whilst doing said retreats, I got pretty good at them, lol! And through observing how I traversed these retreat experiences, I gained clarity on how I wanted to get the most out of them. I hope some of these may resonate with you too, or you can keep them in mind to refer to on your next retreat experience.
My top retreat lessons:
- Letting go of the need to control and surrender and trust the process. Control is the very thing that has made many of us successful so we can often be tough cookies on retreat. By not needing to know everything and focusing on letting go, the experience can be so much better as you aren’t evaluating everything against set expectations but rather allowing things to unfold as they should. I believe someone’s retreat style is a big indication of how easy life is for them. Those that are open to flowing and embracing all on offer will no doubt have more grateful and abundant paths.
- Leave your worries at the door – it’s so easy to live in the past or future, especially for a brain that’s wired to be ‘on’ 24/7. Do yourself a favour and give it permission to switch ‘off’. Vacation brain is SO underrated!
- Unplug – yep, you heard it here. Take your phone and drop it in the pool 🙂 or at least set hours for when you have screen time. It is your biggest distractor from ‘dropping in’ to the zen zone and getting the most of your time away.
- Take each day as it comes – don’t plan ahead. In a world that encourages us to squeeze every last drop of our energy in a bid to be productive, don’t. Just don’t, you’ll thank me for it. The art of living in the moment is just that, being present and here. Not there. Who knows how you’ll feel one day to the next but enjoy that wind down, the decompression that comes, the relief and space you feel in your head and how wonderful it feels. Don’t sabotage this delicious process or impede it with distractions like planning.
- Remember why you are here and what you want to achieve and say no to anything that doesn’t align with this. It’s your retreat – do it your way and don’t feel guilty if you sleep in and miss yoga or opt out of a fitness or surf lesson. The more you listen to your body instead of your mind and feel into what it needs and follow it, the better the experience.
One of the most important learnings from the retreats I have done is coming to understand that the full impact of a retreat is also about the changes you make when you return home. This is easier said than done! When you have been in a cocoon, wrapped up and snuggly, it can be hard to be tossed back into reality.
This is why we produce a lot of great content to aid you on your own wellness journey. My advice is to make some simple wellness mandates of your own- simple things you can honour, and then create the time to focus on them. A list is just a list without energy and time behind them.
I’d love to hear your wellness mandate.
Your Escape Haven Bali Retreat offers a luxury wellness experience for body, mind and soul
We invite you to experience our award-winning Bali retreat. If it’s time to fill up your cup and reconnect with yourself on a deeper level, we’d love to help you rejuvenate, unwind, reawaken and experience the very best of Bali. Dive into transformational yoga and meditation classes, exhilarating surf lessons in the warm waters of Bali, fun fitness classes and restorative healing sessions. How much or little you do is all up to you.