The Impossibility and Necessity of Retreating

Many years ago I was in the throes of early single parenting my high need young one, beyond sleep deprived, bone tired, under-resourced, frazzled, unhealthy, depressed, uninspired, and longing for some respite – some relief – an escape from my overwhelming life – an opportunity to take care of myself, my needs, my body, my heart. I was also convinced that I could not do such a thing and had every excuse in the book as to why actually taking care of myself in this way was not an even remotely an option -- no money, no time, fear of reaching out to others as I was so down on myself, my body was out of shape and I was still carrying the weight I had gained during pregnancy -- basically, I was miserable in my own misery and did not see any way out.

I received an email newsletter from a beautiful woman who runs women’s retreats. The title was something along the lines of declaring that everyone needs a retreat. I unsubscribed immediately upon reading this. I was livid and my inner dialogue went something like this: How could she be so bold to state something like that?? Didn’t she know my situation and so many others?? Of course she didn’t understand anything because she was not a mother – she couldn’t possibly understand the angst I was in. The nerve of her to tell us all that we need a retreat when I can barely get myself up and dressed and out the door everyday. And, on and on and on and on.

 

Well, I tell ya, that is EXACTLY what I needed. And, I believe, that I COULD have made it happen and IF I DID my life would have taken a very different trajectory. Instead, I chose to stay in my suffering rather than step out of it and unwind, resource myself, and connect with my body and heart and perhaps heal amongst fellow women. I chose to stay in my bubble of misery and feel pretty damn bad about myself.

 

And, it’s okay. I wasn’t ready in that moment to be healed and opened up and there is absolutely no judgment on that. When you’re ready, you’re ready, and not a moment sooner.

 

I did attend a half-day women’s retreat a few months afterwards and a part of me softened, opened, and healed. Though something larger was stirred, and I received a taste of the critical nature of the unplugging from life and diving into our embodied ways of being. I recognized that I had taken a massive step out of my misery and back towards myself. I understood that it was a process and that what I had connected to was a piece of the puzzle, a small, yet significant moment of unwind and honor. I had the awareness for those few hours and for several days afterwards of the magnitude that my body, heart, and spirit had just gone through in growing my child and birthing him into the world. I was so lost in the fog of my new existence as an overwhelmed mother that I had forgotten about the other part of myself that was so buried beneath layers of body weight and tension. It was a small step, yet one that did actually change my course significantly.

 

I knew, after that day, that it was my path to support others in tapping into this place -- the quiet, deep, introspective, connected, heart-centered place that we all long for, yet deprive ourselves of. I knew it in my bones, yet also knew that it may take me awhile. I was still very much in the throes of new motherhood and I truly had no idea what was on the horizon for me to navigate before I was able to step back in this direction. My path carried me soon after this day into a painful divorce and single parenting. I became my high need sons primary caretaker and that remained my priority for many years….

 

Throughout this journey, I was able to retreat regularly – sometimes this was just a few hours at my home unplugged and surrounded by yoga props and a delicious long yoga practice, sometimes it has involved traveling and retreating.

 

It has been the most important act of self-care as a mother and a woman that I have chosen and one that I do not take for granted.

 

 Beginning in June, I will be offering monthly women’s mini-retreats – a 4-hour long opportunity to unwind, resource, and re-connect.

 

 

I recognize that it is not conducive for many to leave their families and responsibilities for an entire week or even a weekend. Removing oneself from life’s demands, technology, overstimulation, and responsibilities even for a few hours can be the reset that one needs.

 

 

These Wholly Embodied Woman mini-retreats include:

Deep and Embodied Yoga that Honors your Body, Heart, and Soul

Mindful Meditation and Movement

Creative Expression

and

Connection to Like-Minded Women

 

For more information or to register please click here.

or email me: alison@embodymylife.com