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 twenty years. Today, one of my favorite personal mantras is, “From stillness comes discernment.” I’m a big fan of pausing; I’ve found if I don’t regularly take time to step back and ask the hard questions (i.e. what makes me come alive? what is my life trying to tell me?), I find myself 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 at a nearby greenbelt, an afternoon virtual retreat, or week-long experience in the mountains or by the sea (join me this weekend Oct. 13-15th)—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 our Wise Selves. Often this wisdom 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 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 so I can sit thoughtfully with this question (read tips here on planning a personal retreat). Additionally, I take a guided retreat twice a year 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. 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 feedback from some of our retreat alums. Retreats are powerful and life-changing. If not now, then when?
WANT SUPPORT FOR COMING HOME TO YOURSELF? HERE ARE FOUR OPPORTUNITIES:
- *THIS WEEKEND, ALMOST SOLD OUT!* October 13-15th ~ Awakening Your Wild Soul: A Women’s Self-Renewal Retreatat Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health (Berkshire Mountains, MA). Come experience deep rest while exploring what makes you come alive! Packages start at just $635. Enjoy gorgeous leaf color and crisp, divine natural foods cuisine and more. Learn more/register. I’ll also be at Kripalu Jan. 19-21 for Sing, Dance, Pray: Romancing the Beloved a winter, restorative retreat.
- *FOUR SPOTS LEFT.* Oct. 26 – Jan. 26 ~ Cultivating Grace, Power & Intuition: A Women’s Self-Renewal Program. An in-person 13-week journey/experience in Brevard, NC, 45 min. from Asheville. This experiential program meets for 8 Thur. evenings from 6:30-8:30 p.m. Open to women of all ages. Learn more/register.
- Wild Souls Nature Adventures (based in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Western NC): authentic movement classes, community song circles, full moon hikes, meditation workshops, women’s circles & more. New offerings are listed each week; have me design a custom experience for your team/friends. Join us Sunday, Oct. 22 for Wild Souls Authentic Movement class near Asheville, NC. Learn more.
- Download your self-guided retreat today ~ Ready to prioritize your self-care, relax your body and enjoy empowering mentoring from Renee 24/7 from the comfort of your home, car or office? Our highly popular self-paced online retreats are only $59. Download & enjoy today. Learn more.
Subscribe here to Live Inside Out, a weekly blog written by mindfulness coach/author/speaker and self-care evangelist Renée Peterson Trudeau. Passionate about helping men and women find balance through the art/science of self-care, Renee has been facilitating high-impact, interactive workshops for Fortune 500 companies, national nonprofits/conferences and organizations/teams worldwide for 25 years. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, Fast Company, Good Housekeeping, US News & World Report, AARP, Spirituality & Health and more. She and her team have certified more than 450 facilitators in 10 countries around the globe to lead self-renewal groups/retreats based on her pioneering self-care curriculum. 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; her latest venture is Wild Souls Nature Adventures. More on Renee here.