What yoga pose is often referred to as the most important? Shavasana… corpse pose… laying on the floor.
What is one of Steven Covey’s top 7 habits of highly effective people? Sharpening the saw… resting… taking care of yourself.
In a world where we place such a high value on getting things done, on being busy and on accomplishing things, what is the number one thing you can do to ensure you are meeting your obligations and that you are being the most effective version of yourself? You got it, taking time to relax, to heal, to rejuvenate.
I recently spent a wonderful weekend at a women’s retreat. It was such a pleasure to step away from my everyday responsibilities and bond with some really awesome (and I do mean awesome) women. Personally, I find that when I take a little time to step away from everyday life, when I schedule down time, time to do nothing…..I lose my mind! Yep. It’s not easy.
I mean, I’m busy! I have pages of to-do lists and piles of books to read. There are so many things I want to learn, plans I’d like to make for Holistic Hub, blog posts to write, recipes to sort through so I can plan some great dinners, photo albums I should create, closets to organize…you get it, right?
As I set off for this weekend retreat, I packed a few self-improvement books I wanted to read, in hopes that one might inspire a workshop. I had my planner, so I could create calendars for the first few months of 2018. I had my Qigong book, so I could work on learning a new sequence and lastly I had a book that I have been reading just for ‘enjoyment’, but not really enjoying all that much (hoping to motor through it). I arrived at retreat ready to relax, but as I started to unpack my car, I realized what I had done. I wasn’t planning a retreat weekend. I had planned an offsite working weekend!
Now I’m not saying a working/planning session is a bad thing! Not at all. As a matter of fact I will be planning one for myself very soon. However, that isn’t what retreat is about! So, I left it. I walked into retreat leaving my to-do list behind. Whoa…yep. I left it all in the car. Whew.
Then on Saturday, we had 5 hours of free time in which we weren’t allowed to talk to each other. It was our own personal time. SHIT! Do you know how much I could accomplish in 5 hours!?!? Breathe. Nope, this is time for relaxation. I’m sharpening my damn saw! So I walked to the meditation sanctuary and sat in stillness for a while, then I walked the labyrinth, then I took a nice walk in the woods, then I came back inside and made a cup of tea and wandered around. The retreat leaders had inspirational books placed about as well as several card decks, such as Angel cards and Goddess cards. I pulled a few cards, but didn’t feel very inspired by them. So I picked up a book and headed to the cafeteria for a snack. I sat down with the book, my tea and a handful of walnuts. I opened the book and perused. It was all about retreats; the important aspects of them, how to organize them, etc. So I grabbed a piece of paper and started brainstorming- what sort of retreat could we organize for Holistic Hub?
Wait…darn it! Did anyone else catch how that just snuck in?
Close the book. Stop it. Relax. Why is this so hard? ? Head falls to meet the table.
It’s hard because I have become wired for accomplishing things. I have difficulty relaxing and doing nothing. But you know what? That isn’t healthy. It’s not that I love to be busy, but I just have so much I want to do! I love to check things off my to-do list. I thought I was doing well – busy, but balanced. Enjoying everything life has to offer (which I am!) But maybe I’m not quite as balanced as I had thought. Maybe I’m closer to a breakdown than feels comfortable!
And that is why I find retreat so valuable. It’s time to really connect with your own wise self. I personally realized at this retreat how wound up and overwhelmed I was feeling with all I have to (and want to) do. I realized that I need to slow down, to consider doing a little less, to prioritize a little better. I realized that I can’t keep up this pace, that I really need to do somethings different. Had I not taken the time to really tune in and listen, I may have missed the signals until it was too late. My body, mind, heart and soul were trying to signal me that I was doing too much, but I was ignoring them all.
The benefits of retreat are many, and if you ever consider gifting yourself with one I say DO IT!!! But you don’t have to spend a whole weekend away. There are many small retreat rituals you can practice at home, to slow down your body, quiet your mind and tap in to your soul. Find a quiet spot and do a few yoga poses or a simple qigong sequence, sit in meditation, take a bath, go for a leisurely walk to experience the sensations of mother nature, read some poetry, journal your thoughts and feelings, take 10 minutes and a cup of tea and simply look out the window watching the birds.
It doesn’t have to be big, it doesn’t have to be costly, but the benefits of a daily or weekly mini-retreat are immeasurable.