I spent this past weekend at a detox retreat just a few miles up the road from me.
Yes, I left one gorgeous beach to spend time at another gorgeous beach, but hey. We all need a change of scenery, even if it’s from one place of beauty to another.
The weekend was perfect, and too short, really, as we only joined midday on Saturday and stayed through midday on Sunday. But it was just enough time to fit in a yoga class, a surf sesh, three gourmet vegan meals, pool time, a couple of massages, and a bottle of wine. (I know—I brought a bottle of cabernet. The rules of “detox” were flex, so…? ). I detoxed from my phone and spent my socializing momentum chatting away with girlfriends in our pajamas until pretty late, slumber party style.
It was a much-needed getaway. The ocean waves rolling just outside the window, the rain falling in pitter-patter drops on the rooftop, the flowering trees, and peek-a-boo stars when the rainclouds passed.
Reflecting back, I don’t think I realized how much I needed the time away. Though brief, it still gave me time to reorganize my thoughts, and in effect, reorganize how I’ve been living my life.
Even though I teach the essential life skills of:
>> prioritizing our personal values
>> organizing chunks of time to create space for the important things, along with
>> maintaining the essential practice of daily meditation
…for the last couple of months, my struggle has been real.
There was the surge of a frantic pivot in my business, the scramble to provide my workshops from #IRL to Zoom, moving house, all the things that tip life upside down. I experienced what many of us have in the past few months:
We all do. Sometimes we lose our footing in our own momentum.
But then what? How do we catch ourselves before we fall too hard or too far?
We slow down.
We do nothing for a little bit. We give our minds a chance to calm, and refocus on our inner desires again and reconnect.
For me, “derailing” meant losing sleep. Lots of it. Even though I teach workshops on overcoming fear and anxiety, I wasn’t reaching for those same tools for myself. Instead, I was “doing” and “planning,” and had merged into survival mode in order to keep my business afloat.
This is all a fair enough reaction, but it’s not sustainable. I burned through tasks, coached clients, and taught my online workshops—I was “on” for them, sending all of my energy in one direction only: out.
Depleted, I slid into bed at the end of each day, Netflixed, and let persistent worry about the future partner with chronic insomnia. I tossed for hours before lapsing into a terrible sleep and played out the next day in much the same way: focused on tasks at hand, showing up for my clients, and completely draining my own energy.
But I know better.
And this short weekend away turned out to be an unexpected revival of my body, mind, and ultimately my soul.
Apart from the healthy food and iPhone in airplane mode, the biggest take away for me came from an unexpected discovery in my room.
Lately, my meditation practice had become just one more “to-do” item on my daily list. I would cheat myself by playing a meditation track, while still lying in bed, not quite awake, and dozing through the 11 or 12 minutes of positive monologue.
This isn’t meditating. This is closer to sleeping.
Other days, I chose a track I would listen to while I did morning tasks, such as make coffee, brush my teeth, and let the meditation talk to itself in the background.
Nope. This wasn’t how one could benefit from meditation either.
Upon checking in to my room, I noticed a book on the bedside table called Just Sit—a book about meditation: its benefits, how to do it, how not to do it, and why meditation is as essential to our mind and bodily health as much as is exercise and a good diet. The book was placed next to the wine glasses and wine bottle opener that came with the room, otherwise, I might never have noticed it.
I picked up the book for a minute, skimmed the back cover, said “Nahh” in my head, set it back down, and wandered off.
A few hours, a meal, and a yoga sesh later, I found myself with nothing to do. Friends were reading by the pool or getting massaged. I didn’t feel like a beach walk. I went back to my room and picked up the book.
Have you ever picked up something you weren’t even sure you were interested in or committed to, but then somehow it sucked you right in? When the lines in the first paragraph compelled you to read a little more? And then another page more? And the next thing you know, you are 60 pages deep and trying to work out how you can take this book home with you and not get in trouble for stealing?
That’s what happened to me.
This book on meditation was just what I didn’t know I needed.
Funny, modern, real. Full of illustrations, bright-colored text, historical and scientific blurbs, and a step-by-step story line of how to practice meditation.
If I hadn’t agreed to join this Retreat, if I hadn’t forgotten to bring my own books, and If I hadn’t set down my phone and forced stillness into my day, I never would have picked up this book.
If I hadn’t created the time to be bored.
And I wouldn’t have had the kick in the butt I needed to see how much I had neglected to build restorative space into my day-to-day, especially given the amount of energy I put out for others.
Everything happens for a reason.
After this short weekend away, I felt inspired to readjust my schedule. It means setting an alarm again and waking up at early o’clock, but it’s the only time where the hours in the day are just for me.
It’s here in this space where I create time to properly meditate, to write, to focus on the things I enjoy doing for myself that have been neglected for so long now.
And it feels good. It feels familiar and reenergizing. It’s calming and peaceful.
Someone once told me, you can’t give if you don’t have. I think they were referring to the ability to make money and seek higher salaries, but the same can be said of energy too. And of kindness. And of love.
If you have nothing in your reserves, then you only have nothing to give to others.
If my days are filled with my favorite things, the things I’m passionate about—coaching and working with others in all things leadership, personal growth, and reconnection with themselves—that adds up to a big give. That is a give of time, energy, connection, inspiration, motivation, support, care.
This weekend helped me to remember to give all of those things to myself too. Only then will I be abundant enough to fully give back.
So. I wake up earlier. I hide out longer. I write more. I meditate (sitting up, taking in the stillness, and breathing like this new book reminded me to). And then give myself fully into my day, with an enthusiasm, authenticity, and energy that I had been lacking.
And you know what? It feels good.
We tend to forget our self-care and we become overwhelmed, buried in responsibilities, obligations, and expectations. It happens to the best of us.
But when you get that reminder from the world that it needs you to slow down, to detox from something, take this reminder seriously. You’ll feel better. You’ll do better. And the relationships, jobs, and productivity around you will respond better too.
Remember to take care of you.