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. 

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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.”

 

“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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Looking for Happiness

I often come across images, poetry and stories that inspire me in the work I am doing (and I have one below to share with you). They can be gentle reminders of what we already know, or ignite a new spark of knowing or curiosity. In a world that pulls us in different directions with so much stimulation and on offer, it can be really helpful to come back to what is simple and grounds us in present moment reality. For me, spending time with family, friends and animals, being in nature and connecting to beauty, all bring me deep peace and happiness.

Here are eight ways to connect with happiness –

1. Express Gratitude

Never let the things you WANT make you forget about the things you HAVE.

2. Savour life’s joys

The real beauty of life is in each precious moment. Stop and smell the roses.

3. Commit to your goals

Most people who fail at reaching their dream, fail not from lack of ability but from lack of commitment.

4. Cultivate optimism

Stay Positive. When it rains look for Rainbows. When it’s dark look for stars.

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5. Stop over thinking.

Thinking too much only complicates your life and creates a problem that wasn’t even there in the first place.

6. Avoid social comparison

Most of our insecurities come from comparing our behind the scenes life with other people’s highlight reel.

7. Increase flow experiences

Flow is a state where you are so focused if feels like time stands still. Doing what you love and challenging yourself is how you get there.

8. Nurture your relationships

The happiest people have deep, meaningful relationships. Nurture them and watch them grow.

 

hugs

 

 

There is nothing I want but your Presence. In friendship, time dissolves” ~ Rumi

 

If this resonates with you, perhaps choose one area to focus on each week then use this focus to form an intention. Set your intention at the beginning of the day; for example….today I am grateful for……..OR ……today I will have lunch with ……….

with love, Gabrielle

 

 

 

 

 

Yoga: Opening from the inside out

I recently attending a session on Yoga and Body Image presented by Janet Lowndes and Sarah Harry, community partners for the Yoga and Body Image Coalition. I have always taught yoga from the perspective of connecting inwardly (thanks to my wonderful teachers), and this presentation affirmed the importance of this approach. When we consider body image in terms of a yoga practice, this may include body weight, shape, gender, age, flexibility and strength. For many, the way we view ourselves will stop us from ever entering a yoga class.

I love this quote from Rachel Brathen, a New York times best seller, motivational speaker and international yoga teacher.

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Yoga should be a practice that invites us to look inwardly, connecting with how we feel rather than how we look. “What’s happening inside my body”? There are many benefits to developing this interoceptive awareness: self compassion, a positive mental outlook, emotional coping, attention to self care and wellbeing.

In yoga, the process of turning our attention inwardly is called pratyahara. We naturally explore pratyahara in relaxation and meditation, but do we turn our attention inwards as part of our physical practice too. Do we listen to the constant messages from our body (whether to deepen or relax into a pose), are we guided by the quality of our breath and a steadiness of mind?

Here are some ways to bring more inner reflection and peace into our practice.

  1. Radical Acceptance – seeing things clearly as they are, in a way that is self-compassionate and non-judging. “I am already enough”.
  2. Meditate.
    • Learn to be at peace with ourselves and the world around us.
    • Discover we are more than our thoughts, emotions and life experiences.
    • Learn to respond, rather than react to life.
  3. Learning to listen to our bodies rather than fighting against them. Be kind and gentle with yourself.
  4. LOVE YOUR BODY. Love it, nurture it, respect it, be kind to it, be grateful for it, celebrate it’s strengths, and befriend it.

For more details on the wonderful work Janet is doing in terms of  Yoga and Body Image, visit her website www.mindbodywell.com.au 

Busyness robs us of the gift right in front of us

It’s so easy to get caught up in the busyness of life. Rushing from one thing to the next, racing through life and feeling there just aren’t enough hours in the day to get everything done. I find myself at times saying “I’m super busy!”, as if being busy is a good thing; I’m being productive and contributing to life. What I am being is stressed, tired and disconnected.

“Busyness robs us of the gift right in front of us.”

One of the great things about being a yoga teacher is I practice and teach presence and mindfulness almost every day. When you practice doing just one thing at a time (such as breath awareness), you sharpen your ability to focus, pay attention and concentrate. When we practice one-pointedness, we are developing our ability to remain with a task for as long as it is necessary to accomplish a particular  goal. If we are to succeed in any endeavour, be it bringing an end to insomnia, anxiety, busyness, accomplishing a job at home or work, or awakening to our True Nature, the mind needs to possess the ability to remain one-pointed for as long as is necessary to accomplish our goal. The more you practice these skills, the easier they become and before you know it, you are more mindful in other aspects of your life. So when you become busy or rushed, you notice you are busy and when you notice you are busy you have an opportunity to make a choice. You can stay busy (and at times this is necessary and appropriate) or change your behaviour. We can choose also to be calm busy or chaos busy.

When we change our behaviour, the outcomes and consequences of our actions change too. I know this sounds simple and it is. The hardest part is noticing; being present enough to ask ourselves, “Is this behaviour or choice bringing me closer to contentment, happiness and peace or further from it?”

 

Tips for practising presence / mindfulness at home.

1. Do one thing at a time.one-pointedness

2. Eat slowly and mindfully (away from TV’s, computers and smart phones)

3. Focus on what can be done today. Think about tomorrow, tomorrow.

4. Plan your day before it begins. Ideally the night before or early morning.