Last week, I took a 48 hours personal retreat. Did I have time to do this? Not really. Was it convenient? Uhhh, No. Did people honor the request for space? That makes me smirk.
As the mother of two beautiful, busy teenagers, full-time professional plus some, and enthusiast of more than one passion turned endeavor, my life is hyper-stimulated with continuous pings for attention from projects, people, and opportunities. In truth, the frequency and volume of input feels to me like a day at Disney World; exciting, taxing, happy, and distracting with the excessive load of eye & ear candy.
Imagine being at Disney every. damn. day. Many of us are living something similar to this metaphor which gives immediate illumination as to why we feel like we’re short-circuiting even in the midst of precious lives we adore.
So three weeks ago, I booked a room on a beautiful property in Hendersonville, NC called Horseshoe Farms. (Highly recommend it: Check it out). The moment you drive through the gate, your heartbeat deepens and spirit slowly slides back into your field. It’s that kind of place with lots of land, animals, ponds, trails, spa, and yes, a meditation and yoga room looking out over Pisgah. It’s a big exhale.
And wherever you go, there you are. And there I was.
As soon as I arrived at my home for 48 hours, I got busy DOING the fine art of being. I got a massage (75 min), changed into my comfy clothes (5), chatted with the goat (20), ran a hot bath (30), sat with the chickens (15), walked around the pond (25), and did a conference call in an adirondack overlooking the land (45). 4 hours “doing” the being thing, and I’m bored. I’m not even sure my conference call can be legitimately included in my 4 hours of being just because I was outside.
So I head to the yoga and meditation room where I can truly lose myself. Yes. More my speed. By the time I left, my phone unabashedly reported I had received 15 texts, 4 voicemails, and more emails than worth counting. (Yes… I checked).
Time to pause before habitually diving in.
Here’s what I learned about creating space in life:
You cannot DO BEING. You can take action to enter a state of stillness as long as that action is the path in versus the journey. DOING is our habit, and we can put lipstick on it and call it BEING, but its still DOING until we truly find stillness.The world does not care that you are on retreat, and in fact, many will “hummmpppphhh” at it. Turn off your devices. If you can’t, gate your use. Pick 3 – 30 minute windows during the day to do a quick scrub of text & voicemail, and turn the device back off. Do Not Call Anyone Unless Their Arm Fell Off.Before you begin, set an out of office message on your voicemail and email. Mine says something simple like: “I am traveling until Friday morning, and I am committed to being off the grid during this time. If you have something that is both urgent and important, please text me asking me to check my email. Otherwise, I’ll be back in touch once I return.”If you are a more sophisticated off-the-gridder than I, you could say: “So happy to hear from you. I’m stoking my creative genius this week and am offline until Friday. Knowing I will be buried in all things input by then, please resend your message on Friday if it still requires my attention to ensure it comes back to the top of my radar.”Decide before you start what you will “fast” from, and fill that time with journaling and sacred ceremony.
For me, fasting from the news, email, and my project management tool (which inevitably leads to work), frees significant time. I brought what I wanted for ceremony and journaling, and reverently dedicated myself to it. Like you would protect time with the love of your life, treat yourself with this same affection. Bring everything you need so you don’t have to go somewhere or talk to people unless by your choice because it supports you BEING. Your massage therapist will understand. I promise. Replace words with breath. Break your routines. I always brush my teeth, wash my face, apply oils, and walk the dogs when I get up. Every Single Morning. A retreat is an invitation to shed habits and choose ritual. While on my retreat, I started my mornings with teeth & face (because I’m not that fancy-free), meditation, and coffee while gazing at mountains.
What do you feel called to do in every moment? Do That. Be realistic. You are still you. The intention is not to create stress because you don’t “love” every aspect of your pictorial representation of an idealized retreat. If you are most at home seeing nature from the picture window of your city apartment, you likely won’t magically love throwing on your puffy vest and wellies to walk a muddy trail. I hate to cook, and being on a retreat did not lure me to love through the rhythmic dicing of root vegetables. Be tender and humored by all that YOU are and all that YOU aren’t.
Do it. I know… you’re busy, your kids will miss you, and a ball or 4 will drop. Get over it. Rather the ball drop than you.