Why go on Retreat?

Retreat comes from the Latin verb “to pull back.”

So a retreat is a place where you pull back from the world.

Here are 10 reasons why retreats are important. They help you…

1. Pull Back

You withdraw from your regular life, pulling in all the energy that’s otherwise fanned out and thinned out in multiple directions.

You gather your forces to focus them on something you love.

From this place, you get a new perspective, you regroup and re-energize. You find inspiration.

Then you put inspiration into action. You bring that thing you love to fruition.

2. Become Spacious

You step out of your structured scheduled day-to-day and step into space and time.

Time on retreat is different, fluid. There’s no need to rush!

You find a space where you can give yourself time to connect with flow, genius and inspiration.

3. Get Inspired

Inspiration, translates as “to breathe into.”

So, you breathe life into your life.

Inspiration is a frame of mind that can come from a change of landscape and outlook.

We’re all creative. Creativity and inspiration happen when you take the time away from your day job to remember your day dream.

4. Listen

When you’re on a yoga retreat, you get to listen.

Why? Because there’s no kids, TV, co-workers. Time away from mobile devices is encouraged.

What do you hear? The sound of birds, the wind and life around you and maybe, just maybe, an inner calling and the quiet inside your heart.

5. Detox

Everyone needs to unplug, unload, clean out and empty their mental desktop.

You will leave a retreat lightened, clearer, recharged, refreshed, and more present.

This new perspective can guide you to make changes in your life that you know you need to make.

6. Lose the Fear

Retreat is a safe space, literally and figuratively.

An opportunity to really let go.

7. Remember Who You Are

Society wants you to be the mother, father, sister, wife, husband, friend, lover.

On retreat you can drop all the roles.

You can just be the exquisite and unique expression of life that you are!

8. Find Your People

It feels wonderful to be with people who get you. Sometimes your friends and family don’t really understand your love of yoga.

On retreat you have an opportunity to dive deep into your practice and to share this experience with like-minded people.

9. Help Others

When you take some space/time, those around you (your partner, children, co-workers) gets space/time too.

This brings appreciation.

They realise what it’s like when you’re not around, to work, clean, cook and love them.

Without you taking up your usual spot, people shift positions to fill that space.

Life takes on a new shape.

Life may be different when you return and you are free to take up a new space in it. This is growth.

People may see a new you, and they see that they’re new, too.

People are motivated to make more positive change.

10. Establish a Routine/Practice

Establishing a new routine, practice or mindset is easier to get started on retreat. These changes may then naturally flow into your life

Retreats are important because people leave retreats rested, happier and clearer.

Who doesn’t want some of that?

Inspired by this blog post…https://www.theodysseyonline.com/11-reasons-need-retreat

Moving into Stillness

Life for all of us, has its ups and downs; it’s the transient nature of life within and around us. Most circumstances cannot be controlled, however with practice we can learn to be more at peace with life as it unfolds.

More recently, my meditation practice has moved from a more structured sitting, to a practice that moves with me – Mindfulness in action. 

Rumi...Divine wihtin my heart

At first I was concerned at my resistance to sit each morning, then became curious; Is there something else that is calling my attention? I feel blessed that sitting quietly and observing what comes and goes, comes pretty easily to me, however I feel now that my practice is to find this same level of ease as I navigate each and every moment. Erich Shiffmann in his excellent book ‘Yoga. The Spirit and Practice of Moving Into Stillness’ talks about levels of stillness. The first level of stillness involves learning to relax, become centred and meditate. This technique involves being still, deliberately pausing and being still and centred in the moment you are presently in. “When you are able to relax and quietly suspend all your firmly held false ideas and limiting beliefs about who and what you are, only what is true will remain”, Erich says. “This is like polishing a mirror – removing the grime – and seeing yourself clearing for the very first time”.

The second level of stillness involves living your life with this new understanding of who you really are: in other words, meditation in action.  This involves continually letting go of the judgements, evaluations and opinions about yourself, others and the world around you throughout the day.  It’s about meeting each moment with a beginners mind, being open and curious. “This means, essentially, letting go of pretence and self-critical judgement and allowing self acceptance – letting yourself be who you truly are”. ……”By staying centred in your peace in the midst of daily life, you will validate your new perspective of yourself and gradually become fully convinced”.

Curious to explore Meditation with me further? iRest Yoga Nidra Meditation

In practice, I find patience and peace.

 

 

Those delicious moments in between……

I have found since returning from my Camino pilgrimage last September/October, that what I crave most, are those delicious moments in between. (Stop now, close your eyes and take 3 slow, steady and smooth breaths). It’s so easy to get caught up in the doing; racing from one thing to the next that we forget to stop and breathe and simply Be.

When we stop, even for just a few moments, we have a sense of completion and there’s a feeling of coming back to our centre. This space helps determine what happens next, and this decision tends to come from a wiser, more grounded place. We learn to respond harmoniously and appropriately rather than react to life. 

So take some time in between your activities to pause and find a moment for yourself; enjoy a cup of tea or simply look out into the garden or up into the glorious sky.

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All we need, to get out of our busy head and into our body is always available if we choose to turn our attention towards it.

Namaste.

 

 

Tasting Mindfulness by Jon Kabat-Zinn

“Have you ever had the experience of stopping so completely,
of being in your body so completely,
of being in your life so completely,
that what you knew and what you didn’t know,
that what had been and what was yet to come,
and the way things are right now
no longer held even the slightest hint of anxiety or discord?
It would be a moment of complete presence, beyond striving, beyond mere acceptance,
beyond the desire to escape or fix anything or plunge ahead,
a moment of pure being, no longer in time,
a moment of pure seeing, pure feeling,
a moment in which life simply is,
and that “is-ness” grabs you by all your senses,
all your memories, by your very genes,
by your loves, and
welcomes you home.”

 

Yoga and Poetry

For those who attend my regular yoga classes, you will know that my favourite poet is Danna Faulds. Her words so often marry beautifully with my intention or theme for the week’s teachings. For me, richness of experience is deepened when the many aspects or layers of who I am are touched in the practice.  Movement and breath liberate held tension and energy in the body, which gives rise to feelings and emotions. When we give space for these feelings and emotions to be met and accepted as they are (without trying to fix or change anything) new levels of freedom become available to us.  Listening to poetry as part of a yoga class, gives us space to simply BE, to rest quietly and listen. As the words meet us, something awakens, stirs and moves through the body and mind. This is my experience…..may it also be yours. X

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Whatever Doesn’t Serve by Danna Faulds

What weight can you put down right now, willingly relinquishing the pointed quills of guilt or judgement?

What burden of the heart can lift, what dark corner can be lit, the candle flickering at first, then burning bright?

With the next breath, let it go, that old story you’ve told yourself a million times.

Whatever doesn’t serve you on this path of truth, leave it behind.

Offer this one gift: the simple sacrifice that in the giving sets you free to fully live.

 

 

Out of the fog

Five months ago today I said goodbye to a dear friend: my beloved dog, Buffy. It was an excruciatingly decision to have her put down; she was in pain, stumbling and had not eaten or taken any water for 2 days. My beautiful sweet girl was 14 years old and it was time for her to rest.

 

From that moment on, everything changed: I couldn’t bear to walk along the river without her, coming home to any empty house was avoided, the end of my bed was cold and I couldn’t face my morning meditation practice. Something I did notice through the grief, was my ability to meet the moment as it was. I didn’t suppress the tears, the ache in my heart – I opened to it all. Through my training and practice in meditation (especially iRest meditation), I had learned to meet the moment as it arises, to not deny or suppress what is present, even when difficult or painful.

What I noticed (even though my daily meditation had slipped) was that the 2 years I had put into establishing my practice had provided me with the necessary tools to navigate this time with presence and grace. As we learn to meet what arises, welcoming life as it is, rather than how we would like it to be, be can move more easily through emotions rather than getting “stuck”. When we truly meet and sit with whatever is present, we experience the transitory nature of our thoughts, emotions and of life itself. iRest meditation, has provided me with the tools to navigate the ups and down of life with more grace, acceptance and ease.

Through the commitment to a  regular practice over time, we can establish the inner resources that help us navigate the most challenging of circumstances. I have found this to be true time and time again.

We have adopted two rescue dogs, Boz and Bindi, 10 year old Whippets and they bring us so much joy. I am feeling more myself each day and look forward to re-establishing my meditation practice in the near future.

I welcome my commitment to practice  (abhyasa) AND the time to let it go (vairagya). It’s the ebb and flow of life. I trust in the process, I trust in life.

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Oasis of Stillness

I recently attended a wonderful restorative workshop with yoga teacher and friend Ingrid Jolley. At some point in the session, while resting in a beautiful heart opening posture she led a guided visualisation of a lake with the group. Inspired by this meditation, I decided to share it in my own yoga classes over the past week and have recorded it to share here as well. I have naturally used my own words and included some pranayama as well. Enjoy!

lake reflection

 

“It is worth doing nothing and having a rest”.

I remember the first time I heard this wonderful piece from The Curly Pyjama Letters by Michael Leunig. I was enjoying relaxation at the beginning of a yoga class with my dear teacher Lyn Colenso and she read the letter (see below) to us like a bedtime story; the sentiment stayed with me for a long time after. The Curly Pyjama Letters is a collection of correspondence between lone voyager Vasco Pyjama and his friend and mentor Mr Curly of Curly Flat.

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Dear Vasco,

What is worth doing and what is worth having?

I would like to say simply this. It is worth doing nothing and having a rest; in spite of all the difficulty it may cause you must rest Vasco –otherwise you will become restless!

I believe the world is sick with exhaustion and dying of restlessness. While it is true that periods of weariness help the spirit to grow, the prolonged ongoing state of fatigue to which our world seems to be rapidly adopting is ultimately soul destroying as well as earth destroying. The ecology of evil flourishes and love cannot take root in this sad situation. Tiredness is one of our strongest, most noble and instructive feelings. It is an important aspect of our conscience and must be heeded or else we will not survive. When you are tired you must act upon it sensibly – you must rest like the trees and animals do.

Yet tiredness has become a matter of shame! This is a dangerous development.

Tiredness has become the most suppressed feeling in the world. Everywhere we see people overcoming their exhaustion and pushing on with intensity—cultivating the great mass mania which all around is making life so hard and ugly—so cruel and meaningless—so utterly graceless—and being congratulated for overcoming it and pushing it deep down inside themselves as if it were a virtue to do this.

And of course Vasco, you know what happens when such strong and natural feelings are denied—they turn into the most powerful and bitter poisons with dreadful consequences. We live in a world of these consequences and then wonder why we are so unhappy.

So I gently urge you Vasco, do as we do in Curly Flat—learn to curl up and rest—feel your noble tiredness—learn about it and make a generous place for it in your life and enjoyment will surely follow.

I repeat it’s worth doing nothing and having a rest.

Yours Sleepily,
Mr. Curly XXX

As we learn to witness and welcome whatever arises within and around us, we gain insight and understanding into what is required to live harmoniously with ourselves, others and life around us.

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