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The Healing Power of Self Care and Retreat

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!

Inner journey to connect with heart…

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.

Blossom through the practice 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!

Going inward…connecting with wisdom

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.

Compassion heals…

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.

Dance your troubles away…

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.

Lovely circle of women!

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?

She was a wonderful and inspiring guide, bringing joy, fun and playfulness to our retreat.

6 thoughts on “The Healing Power of Self Care and Retreat”

  1. Allison says:

    I must say it took me a long time to commit to this event because I always came up with something else more important that I had to do for someone else. After I finally committed I was so excited to spend some time with myself. I am not much of a yoga goer so I will admit I was a little nervous. However, because it was gentle yoga I was able to do all of the moves easily.When I arrived and saw the studio it reminded me of a day spa the music and the candles and whole setting was so relaxing and all of the ladies were super friendly. During the yoga and meditations I felt so in touch with myself. I was able to locate where a large part of my pain was emotional for me. The journaling was great because after you did the meditations you could write about how you were feeling and what came up for you. I loved the handouts – there were some beautiful poems. We then shared some of those things and to my surprise I was not alone in my feelings. During the fun dancing part I felt like a little kid dancing freely, and not worrying about what I looked like but just had fun allowing my body to feel the music. It was a natural high not to mention a good workout! Winding down we did a guided meditation with blankets and felt like something I would set up on a rainy day! By the end of the retreat I felt great about myself, I felt totally relaxed, I realized how much I deserved to take better care of myself. I highly recommend this wonderful experience. It is worth getting a babysitter, telling your husband or significant other you have plans, letting the laundry pile up one more day and letting go of any guilt you may have when it comes to doing something for yourself!

    1. Hi Allison! I’m so glad you attended the retreat and that you truly enjoyed yourself. Thank you for taking the time to give such a thorough review of the retreat experience! I feel as if I was just reviewed by a professional critic! 🙂 I really felt lucky to have you and all the other women there…it was a thrill to see you enjoying yourself and doing what is best at a retreat …letting go, being open to take in the experience, connecting with others and just having fun! Everyone of the women brought their own special quality to the retreat. You brought your openess and willingness to share and support the group and a great sense of humor! I look forward to doing more retreats and to having you there! Thanks again! 🙂

  2. Diana says:

    I first met Cindy Ricardo at her Gentle Yoga classes. As a teacher myself, I know what good teaching looks like. Cindy is a caring, talented student who learns as much as she can. She learns and incorporates whatever will strengthen her own yoga practice so that she can “pay it forward” to those of us who are seekers. I go to Cindy’s class not only for my yoga practice, but also for the miracles that occur at and beyond my participation.

    I so enjoy Cindy’s classes that I requested more…more of everything that Cindy has to offer, which is much. Cindy, is a licensed counselor who has many areas of expertise. One area that I was most interested in was her knowledge and willingness to teach “mindful acceptance”. I have shared with her my life long struggle in this area. I struggle with constantly judging myself. I’m never good enough. If I try, I am unsuccessful as my standards and conditions are high. For example, I live with the belief of “If I do this, then I can love myself.” However, as a human the ifs are unattainable. If I do not accept myself, I cannot accept others. I then tend to withdraw from participating in my own life. Therefore, I strongly encouraged Cindy to share her expertise with me and other women. Cindy listened as she always does and planned a Women’s Retreat.

    I attended the retreat on June 18th. It was amazing! I went in feeling very disconnected with my self and others, but came out of it connected and at peace. What a gift! Like a good teacher, Cindy came prepared with an agenda with a variety of activities planned. The agenda included going over the day’s events, writing about what we expected to receive at the retreat, sharing with others, doing gentle yoga as well as dancing freely with an invited guest knowledgeable about freedom and dance. We ended our wonderful day with Yoga Nidra, which is a form of meditation that really transports your mind and soul to another dimension. Your mind takes you where you need to go and you come out of it at peace.

    1. Hi Diana! I appreciate your praise and feedback about me as a teacher! I also appreciate your feedback about the retreat…and am so happy that you truly enjoyed yourself and were able to let go, be playful and relax! I’ve seen you grow as a yoga student and a person. We are going to have more retreats and I look forward to having you there as you bring playfulness, humor and just a lovely presence to the yoga studio. Namaste

  3. Hi, Cindy! I know I got to your blog after your retreat and still chose to tweet the post because it shows what beautiful work you must do! So pleased that your retreat touched so many lives. You go, girl!

    So glad to have found you through the Social Media LoveFest!

    1. Yes it was a wonderful and uplifting experience thanks to the participants who were so open to the whole experience and really helped to make this retreat so much fun and successful! Thanks again for your feedback!

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