Thank you to our new retreat partner - Marni Henderson, founder of Coalesce Discovery and Horizons Retreats for this awesome perspective on how to "getaway" without leaving the safety of home during this time.
Picture this, "It is sometime in the late afternoon, maybe 3:00 or 4:00. You haven't worn your watch or scrolled through your phone for days. The turquoise blue waters of the Caribbean sweetly soothe the soul while relaxing in a hammock. You can hear the waves gently brush the sand as a calm breeze rustles the palm fronds. The humidity naturally melts stress lines from your face with a warm welcoming smile. An easy dip in the ocean draws all tension from your shoulders and you are greeted with a freshly prepared rum punch as you step back onto land. "Go Slow" is the plan for today. An overwhelming sense of harmony and balance brings peace and relaxation throughout your mind, body and soul."
I can feel it. I can taste it and oh I can so imagine myself there right now... But I am not there, at least physically.
In a time when staying home is one of the most powerful choices we can make for the health and well being of our local communities and the world, finding ways to retreat within ourselves and at home has become a new reality. Especially for those of us that love to travel.
I was supposed to be in Belize last week. But like so many other people, travel plans quickly changed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. My plane was scheduled to leave stateside, the day before the Philip Goldson International Airport in Belize was closed.
Although St. George's Caye would be a magical and totally relaxing island to self isolate, I would not be traveling to Belize this time...
My love for Belize had me counting the days for the slow paced culture, gracious people and healing beauty of this Central American country. Exploring other cultures offers a fresh perspective allowing me to bring home a different understanding of how I am living my life. It is often a "check up" on my priorities and daily habits. Specifically in Belize, I savor the break from digital devices, face paced lifestyle and unnecessary stress. Instead, days are filled with a "go slow" vibe, quiet contemplation, nourishing fresh food, playful curiosity and adventure. The most important reason I love to travel for retreat is that I often return home more relaxed, present and authentically available for myself and loved ones. Pure presence is the greatest gift we can share!
What had been a very intentionally planned vacation to relax and replenish now had me finding another way to fill a physician ordered prescription - "stress management vacation". For many, travel is a powerful stress management tool. The word retreat actually means to withdraw from our normal routine into a space that is safe for us to reflect and find refuge. Whether that be by meditation within ourselves, at home or global travel, retreat is actually a very profound act of self care. It positively affects the health and wellness of our whole being with a boosted immune system, increased brain function, emotional health and so much more!
Therefore, I am finding ways to create this experience in my home. Because honestly, that is what is happening right now for much of the world. For the greater good of humanity, we are being asked to keep ourselves and others healthy by staying home. Amongst all of the chaos, change and grief occurring worldwide, it is even more important to create a place of refuge within ourselves and immediate surroundings.
Relax and Replenish Home Retreat
- Preparation: Clearly define what type of experience or feeling you need. Is it to relax (less tense, relieve stress or anxiety) or to replenish (fill up or restore energy supply)?
- Setting: Find a special place in your home that will be designated just for your retreat. It may be outside, a certain chair or room. Make sure this is a place that when you go there, you really make it special for this purpose. It could even be a favorite blanket that you take with you to sit on or wrap yourself in. Clearly designate whatever and wherever it is. (I moved a reclining chair outside and now I wrap up in my favorite blanket and take a nap or read a book outside in the recliner…..it is so delicious!)
- Who: Is this for yourself, with others or are you planning for someone else?
- Sound: There are so many sounds we have access to that will support relaxation. It may be different types of music, a guided meditation, the sound of birds or silence.
- Smells: Certain smells definitely invoke a sensation of relaxation. Candles, essential oils, diffusers, incense, fresh air…...what is your pick? Ylang ylang, bergamot and lavender are all known to promote relaxation. If you imagine yourself on the beach, find some coconut or are you longing for the mountains, pine.
- Food: What a nourishing aspect of replenishment! What if you prepared a special meal? It could even be something as simple as a unique chocolate or a new dish, fruit or tea. Maybe you don't want to cook so you pre-prepare the meal or support your local restaurant with curbside pick up before your retreat. (I made a special meal of rice and beans for a "Belize Retreat" night, played Caribbean music, sprayed coconut in the room, made rum punch and put on "beach clothes").
- Have some fun: This is supposed to be a retreat which means we can step out of the box. Let your imagination soar. Give yourself some time to step away from the current reality and create an environment filled with deeply nourishing elements. Is there a special outfit you can wear? Can you call a friend and do it together? Does it mean you put a tent up in your backyard or living room? Maybe hang some indoor lights or take a bath? How can you step away from all of the chaos and stress to bring a precious moment of restorative balance?
- Time: Now that you have all the details figured out for your retreat and you've gathered everything you need, if anything at all, pick a time. Put it on your calendar or set an alarm and if you live with others, let them know. That means if you have littles, you've prepared them to be occupied while you go on retreat! This is your time! Honor yourself by making this a priority and putting all the preparation into action. Sometimes that is the hardest part. So put it on the calendar and if it helps, have someone else hold you accountable. Ask for help in making this happen.
Turn off the phone, step away from the to do list, slip away into your magical retreat space and return relaxed, refreshed and replenished. Congratulations, you restored harmony and balance!
There will be a day we can travel internationally again and return to St. George's Caye or your favorite destination. We will be living in the new normal. Until then, remember to take the time for yourself and create space for relaxation and replenishment. Being present with yourself and others is one of the greatest gifts we can share. When personal and global health requires taking care of your mind, body and spirit at home, know that you are making a difference for yourself and the many people on the front line. And then, when the loved ones in our lives working on the front line return home or can take a moment to relax, we will have the energy to make sure they too find the relaxation, replenishment and re-connection they so very much deserve.