Throughout my 20s and 30s 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 twenty 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 (What makes me come alive? What is my life trying to tell me? And most importantly: What is uniquely mine to do?), we find ourselves living a robotic life that is joyless and rote.
Hands down, I believe retreats 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 in a natural area, an afternoon virtual retreat (check out SOVEREIGNTY), or a weekend 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 big 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. This validation 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. Watch: What feeds you, what drains you?
- 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 decade 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, prior to COVID, once or twice a year I would take a guided retreat and allow myself to be “held” in a healing space by others who are figuring out all the retreat logistics!
I feel honored and privileged to have been able to create and facilitate retreats for others for the last 25 years. However, even if I didn’t do this for work, I would still be committed to regularly stepping away from my life. Does the thought of taking a women’s retreat sound scary? Read about one woman’s first retreat experience and feedback from some of our retreat alums. Retreats are powerful and life-changing. If not now, then when?
HOW CAN I SUPPORT YOU? HERE ARE THREE OPPORTUNITIES FOR COMING INTO BALANCE:
- **Available through 1/31 as a download.** SOVEREIGNTY: A Women’s Self-Renewal Retreat A luscious, replenishing afternoon guided retreat experience with like-minded women. Poetry + singing + journaling + nature + connection + solo time + self-care resources + Yoga Nidra deep relaxation session. Step in to your personal power and sovereignty. Only $59 for the download. Learn more.
- Awakening Your Wild Soul 2022 Women’s Retreats ~ Join me at 1440 Multiversity (CA) Feb. 4-6 (two spots just came open!), Art of Living Retreat Center (NC) May 6-8, Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health (MA) Oct. 14-16. Save your spot now; they’re almost sold-out. Learn more.
- Help your team/employees find balance in 2022! Schedule me to create a balanced living workshop, keynote or personal retreat to help your team, organization or employees feel less stressed and more resilient, creative and focused. For 20+ years I’ve been working with companies/organizations such as Women in Conservation, the Council on Family Violence, Merrill Lynch, the Center for Women in Law, the Hewlett Foundation and more. Email me, I’d love to discuss how I can support your team or organization. Learn more here.
Subscribe here to Live Inside Out, a weekly blog written by life balance coach/author/speaker, master retreat facilitator and self-care evangelist Renée Peterson Trudeau. Passionate about helping men and women find balance through the art/science of self-care, her work has appeared in The New York Times, Good Housekeeping, US News & World Report, AARP, Spirituality & Health and more. She and her team have certified more than 400 facilitators in 10 countries around the globe to lead self-renewal groups for women based on her pioneering work. She’s the author of two books on life balance including the award-winning The Mother’s Guide to Self-Renewal: How to Reclaim, Rejuvenate and Re-Balance Your Life. She and her husband live in Western North Carolina and Austin, Texas and are enjoying a new empty nest. More on Renee here.