Are you in touch with your physical, emotional and spiritual needs?
When was the last time you took a break from the daily routine of caring for others to meet your own needs? When was the last time you were able to let go of worries, relax into the moment, laugh or dance to upbeat music?
What a Treat! I Got to do This!
This past weekend I had the perfect opportunity to do all of the above and what a lovely, wonderful experience it was! I was delighted and thrilled to lead a Women’s Yoga and Self Care retreat at the Blue Sol Yoga Studio in Weston, Florida. It was such a relaxing, uplifting and trans-formative experience that I plan to do it again!
The retreat was about self-care, about letting go of thoughts, worries, frustrations to just be in the present moment and enjoy the day! It was about connection, about allowing ourselves to connect with each other, with our bodies, minds and hearts. We used different paths to get there; a combination of journaling, meditation, yoga and joyful dance! Each path led to a deeper connection to self, to each other, to life. This is the gift of self-care; of being present without judgment, open to experience our emotions, be joy, invite peace into our lives and enjoy bliss!
An Inner Journey to Connect with Our Hearts Deepest Longing…
Most of us are well connected to thoughts, to the list of things to do, to the dreaded SHOULDS…when this happens our connection with self gets lost, we lose our identity and move through life like a zombie. Sometimes we end up filled with resentment towards others or ourselves and end up feeling victimized and angry. Our aliveness and wholeness isn’t contained in our thoughts, it isn’t contained in seeking the approval of others, it’s contained in our connection to our bodies, to this life giving breath and our hearts. This is what it means to pause and connect with the life that is already here, and this was the starting point of our retreat.
Initially the women were invited to go on an inner journey and reflect on what was/is most important to them, what was/is their hearts deepest desire. This pausing and sensing into inner wisdom, tapping into what’s calling for attention (i.e. overwhelming stress in your life could be pointing at a need to let go of doing and just be.) is a vital part of self-care.
The Importance of Self Care…
Self-care is essential to emotional, physical and spiritual well-being. It’s integral to maintaining balance in our world. So it was also an opportunity for me to reflect on the role of self care in my own life. Since I’m a caretaker both in my personal and professional life this retreat was a chance to let go, be present and enjoy being in a supportive circle of compassionate women. Attending a retreat is truly an opportunity to replenish and restore ourselves and so I wanted to create a space where all of us (facilitator’s and participants) could explore and experience self-care and this was the perfect setting for it!
Connecting with Inner Wisdom through Journaling…
Journaling was a wonderful way of connecting with self and each other!
There’s so much wisdom contained in our inner world, our minds, emotions and bodies. There are many paths to connect with this inner wisdom and one of the ways we used during the retreat was journaling. Each participant was given a list of reflective questions and asked to journal about it. It was an invitation to bring awareness to what emotions, thoughts and concerns each one of them was holding and to go even further by identifying what they could set aside that would help them be more present and open to the retreat experience. They were then encouraged to pair up with a partner and share their responses, without judging themselves or their partners. To grant each other the gift of being fully present by listening with an open mind, and heart. This to me was the beginning of self care, this idea that you can acknowledge whatever you hold in your mind, heart and body without judgment. It’s part of valuing yourself when your able to share your inner world, and know that the listener is truly there to receive your message with a compassionate heart. There is something sacred and powerful about giving voice to what you hold inside in the presence of a compassionate witness.
The Power of Presence and Listening with a Compassionate Heart…
Watching them interact and then later hearing them share what they learned about themselves was a moving experience. It was amazing how their responses shared a common theme of wanting to let go of judgment, be more present to life, and to be more accepting and loving towards self. As a counselor and a person I know this is what most of us yearn for. Sometimes we think it’s the acceptance and approval of other’s that we seek. In reality acceptance and love begins with ourselves because if we can’t give it to ourselves first it’s hard to keep giving it to others. So for the remainder of our time together the focus was on letting go of judgment and inviting acceptance and love into our hearts. As we moved through a gentle yoga flow the focus was on really being present in body, mind and heart. Moving through each pose with mindfulness, awareness of the places that hold tension and learning how to soften those areas whether it be thoughts filled with judgment, a body full of tension and pain or an experience of joy and lightness. It was a beautiful beginning on this journey of self-care.
Allowing Ourselves to Connect through Dance, Laughter and Fun…
From there it just it just got better and better! We were joined by a wonderful yoga teacher and a personal friend who came in bearing gifts, props and music. that encouraged each of us to play, laugh and dance freely. Jane Schmidt led us beautifully and effortlessly towards connecting with body, mind and heart through a series of uplifting and joyful dance routines! She was a wonderful and inspiring guide, bringing joy, fun and playfulness to our retreat. The best part was that everyone could and did participate! It was like being a kid again, dressing up with belly dancing scarves and just moving to the rhythm of the music. Each person got a chance to lead the dance in their own style and to their own rhythm. There were no rules other then to just enjoy yourself! I can attest to the fact that everyone followed this rule beautifully! This part of the retreat was energizing, inspiring and so uplifting. There is so much freedom in just allowing yourself to move to your inner rhythm, to let go, connect with the playful and joyful side that is inside of us, while connecting with other’s! What a beautiful and enlivening experience.
As we turned down the volume of the music and quieted our bodies and minds it was time to settle down on the mat for a lovely Yoga Nidra (Yoga Meditation) session. This practice is a wonderful way of releasing mental, emotional and physical tension, allowing yourself to be guided and also to be open to connect with an intention that is important to you. In leading this session, I guided and encouraged the women to connect with the original intention they set at the beginning of our retreat. It was a lovely way to end our retreat day, this meditation on connecting with bliss left them feeling completely relaxed and at ease and as they shared one word about how they were feeling it was relaxed, peaceful and loved.
The Healing Power of Self-Care and Retreat…
There were so many gifts and blessings I received at this retreat! Being able to connect in a loving way with other women is a truly powerful experience. It helps to re-connect with what is truly important in life. To realize that we really do need to tend to ourselves in ways that are calming, soothing, uplifting and inspirational. This ability to accept and be loving towards ourselves is essential if we want to live in the present moment. It’s also essential if we want to be able to tend to our children or those who depend on us. As the saying goes, You can’t get water from an empty well!” So take care of yourself!
Finally, it was truly an honor to be in the presence of such a lovely, compassionate and open group of women. The best part was allowing myself to enjoy both the experience of leading and being an equal member of our supportive circle. The retreat experience went beyond my own expectations and I left feeling as if I was walking on a cloud!
I truly feel blessed and am looking forward to our next one. Keep connected to my blog as I will be posting a fixed date very soon! Right now it’s tentatively scheduled for September 10th…won’t you come out and join us?