Fifteen years ago (yes 15!) I booked to go on my first yoga and meditation retreat. I was tentative and nervous as it was for 12 days, I barely knew the facilitators and it was overseas. However, I thought some time-out and warmth in Bali could not be all bad…and that was true. But what I did not expect was that my whole life would change completely (and for the better!) from that retreat.
We can all feel reluctant about starting, committing, doing something that is out of our routine and comfort zone. We are creatures of habit, part of our survival instinct, and this does assist us to get up and keep going with grace and humility each day, whatever may arise.
I still practise skills I learnt on that retreat – silence for extended periods; reciting Desiderata when a challenge keeps arising in my life; being comfortable in my own skin.
So for those who may be curious about a retreat, these were my lessons:
- Feeling uncomfortable in your life is a good sign that something needs to change – usually something is knocking on your door and you either open the door or wait too long until the door is forced open, usually painfully. I left it nearly too long. Try not to ignore this feeling..
- Total strangers can ‘see’ you clearly. It is uncomfortable to be around people you don’t know and there’s no escaping to the unconditional support of your familiar friends. However, you will probably receive many valuable and kind insights.
- Serendipity does happen for a reason. I had moved house and the invitation to this retreat had not been redirected. By chance I received it and I just knew I was meant to go. I made two close, lifelong friends from this trip who encouraged me to bring significant changes into my life. Trust what the Universe delivers..
- Playing in the mud is fun! Part of this retreat was for others to give you a ritual. Mine was playing in mud – to loosen up and let go! I try to remember this when life gets on top of me.
- Letting go needs regular practise. The initial changes when you return from retreat come easily. Then we all slip back. I consciously and regularly book time out, go away, commit to learning something new. None of us can do it alone and your brain takes time to re-wire and change.