Throughout my twenties and thirties when my chest tightened from overwork and I could feel overwhelm lapping at my door, I would increase my work pace, thinking, “I just need to move faster and get more done.” Much of this stemmed from an entrenched but misguided belief that my worth was directly tied to my productivity.
Fast forward fifteen years. Today, one of my favorite personal mantras is, “From stillness comes discernment,” and I’m a big fan of pausing. I’ve found if we don’t regularly take time to step back and ask the hard questions (i.e. what in my life is working for me and what’s not?), we find ourselves living a robotic life that is joyless and rote.
I believe retreats provide a great way to do this and are one of the best investments you can make in yourself.
Stephen Cope, MSW, author and director of Kripalu’s Institute for Extraordinary Living, where I teach, says retreats don’t change our lives as much as they change where we stand in relationship to our lives—and our capacity to see the hidden possibilities there.
Whether it’s a one-day personal retreat at a nearby greenbelt or a weekend or week-long experience in the mountains or by the sea–retreats have become key to helping me map out my next steps. I consider them to be as essential to balanced living as oxygen. But they take planning, courage and a commitment to step off the hamster wheel, even if just for a bit. I take retreats because they help me:
- navigate career/life transitions: by gathering with others in a supportive, validating environment, I’m reminded that I’m not alone and everyone goes through periods of their life when they feel lost, uncertain and are having trouble finding their way back home. And this realization can make all the difference in how you experience the journey.
- gain a shift in perspective: this intentional time provides me with the “30,000 foot view” and reminds me that, “When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” Wayne Dyer.
- fill my well: navigating our 24/7 modern lives and living in a culture that rarely “unplugs,” means we need to find ways to recalibrate our bodies, minds and spirits and return to our natural rhythms. Retreats offer the chance to experience a digital detox and deep “to-the-bones” replenishment, rest and renewal. This is key to sustainable living.
- hear what I most need to hear and gain clarity/focus around how and where to direct my energy, time and talents in the coming months or year; I believe we all inherently know what is best for us, we just rarely slow down or get quiet enough to hear this inner wisdom–often this comes right to the surface when we’re on a retreat.
- learn to ask for and receive support: giving myself permission to drop my personae, “come as you are” and receive help from like-minded people who see the highest and best in me is freeing, exhilarating and it reminds me of who I really am. We’re all one another’s teachers; often the biggest “pearls” from a retreat experience come from other retreat participants who are sitting just a few feet away.
I’m currently exploring how and where I am best meant to serve in the decades to come. As I sit with, “What is uniquely mine to do?” and examine various opportunities coming my way, I make it a point to take a one-day retreat every 90 days (read tips here on planning a personal retreat) so I can sit thoughtfully with this question. Additionally, once or twice a year, I take a guided retreat and allow myself to be “held” in a healing space by others who are figuring out all the logistics!
I feel honored and privileged to have been able to create and facilitate retreats for others for the last 25 years, but even if I didn’t do this as part of my work, I would still be dedicated to this practice. It’s a commitment I’ll be honoring for the next 40 years of my life. (Does the thought of taking a women’s retreat sound scary? Read feedback from some of our retreat alums, watch a short video here and check out Nora’s story–from a first time retreat goer.)
JOIN ME FOR AN UPCOMING RETREAT: Craving clarity, a greater sense of purpose and deep to-the-bones rest and renewal? Join me at an upcoming retreat. Our retreats always sell out, so don’t wait to register. Here’s what’s coming up:
RE-CONNECT & REPLENISH WITH LIKE-MINDED WOMEN: 3 OPPORTUNITIES!
- I’ll be in the ancient California redwoods April 20-22 at 1440 Multiversity near Santa Cruz, CA for Embracing the Wild Unknown: Women’s Self-Renewal Retreat. This gorgeous new retreat center –nestled in the CA redwoods offers an easy 20 minute shuttle ride from the San Jose, CA airport. It features a healing spa, expansive forest trails, amazing CA cuisine, mind-body classes and more. This will be a rare, intimate retreat limited to 20–a great chance to get personal support from me.
- Once a year I offer a Texas one-day self-renewal retreat on Mother’s Day weekend (but they sell out quickly!). We just announced our May 11 New Way of Being: Women’s Self-Renewal Retreat (check out our bring-a friend special which includes a Kendra Scott jewelry gift and reserve your spot today).
- Reach out to me to have me plan/facilitate a custom 1/2 day or full day life balance retreat for your company, team or organization-this is one of my favorite things to do ! Learn more and email me at workshops at reneetrudeau dot com.
Subscribe here to Live Inside Out, a weekly blog written by coach/author & life balance speaker speaker Renée Peterson Trudeau. Passionate about helping men and women experience balance through the art/science of self-care, her work has appeared in The New York Times, Good Housekeeping, US News & World Report, Spirituality & Health and more. Thousands of women in ten countries are becoming RTA-Certified Facilitators and leading/joining self-renewal groups based on her award-winning self-care curriculum. She is the author of three books on life balance including the award-winning The Mother’s Guide to Self-Renewal. She lives in Austin, Texas, with her husband and 16-year-old son. More on her background here.