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June 30, 2021

Why taking a retreat is one of the best things you can do for your wellbeing – especially now!

It’s a bit of an understatement to say the past 15 months have been a bit mad. We’ve kind of settled in to the new normal, but if we were to time-travel back a couple of years, to June 2019, we couldn’t even imagine where we are now, in this post covid-discovery era, where we all wear face masks and accept the fact we can’t just jump on a plane to wherever in the world we want to go.
The future was always uncertain, but we made plans anyway. We were certain enough…. We had years of experience to go on. Now, well, we realise anything can happen…..literally ANYTHING. If aliens landed tomorrow and took over the world, I think we would just be like ‘Oh yeah, well, of course aliens were going to take over the world, does this mean I need to stock up on loo roll again?’
I honestly believe that we’re in shock…. a collective post-traumatic situation. Many of us in the West thought we were relatively safe (bar the threat of terrorism of course), now we see ourselves as more vulnerable. What can do about it though? I think I have the answer. The answer is to take care of ourselves.
It’s not as self-centred as it sounds.
If we practice self-care, we spread light in the world. When we look after ourselves, we smile more and we demonstrate that we value our uniqueness. We cultivate kindness and we feel better able to take care of others too.
Taking care of ourselves is all we can really control. The problem is, we think we know self-care – we don’t… we need frequently reminding.
You know the drill…. Let’s start on Monday… On Monday I will step into the new me. I will wake at 6am, I will replace my coffee with hot water and lemon, followed by a 10-minute meditation, a cold shower and a brisk walk. Everything is going to be different – I am going to think different, act different and be the best version of myself. I am going to be slim and fit and full of energy. I can’t wait!
We have the best intentions, we think we are doing the right thing, but we are forgetting something – life happens to us… in-spite of ourselves. So, the dog pees on the carpet…or we sleep really bad and need caffeine, or the kids are sick, or we have a hormonal outburst, or there’s a global pandemic… The list of what can disrupt our plans is endless. And even though we haven’t made any of this stuff happen, we blame ourselves anyway. We think we have failed.
This is not self-care – this is self-sabotage.
And this is where a retreat can come in really handy!
On retreat we remove many obstacles that get in the way. We take a stand. The fact we are there means that we know that we matter, deep down. We are there solely to take time for ourselves and the pay-off is huge.
There is no distraction. That means no-one else to take care of – no partners, kids or pets allowed! No washing to do or bins to take out, no food to prepare, no sheets to change. You are encouraged to keep your phone away in a drawer. And with all your basic needs taken care of, you can truly focus on you. The chance to be present, to truly relax and really experience inner peace is better than anywhere else.
And so, the opportunity for self-awareness is heighten to a new level.
When I first went on retreat, over 10 years ago, I wasn’t prepared for how life-changing it was going to be. Just a weekend away in quiet contemplation, with healthy nourishing food, beautiful surroundings and caring like-minded people that demanded nothing from me but my presence, it felt as if had awakened to a new version of myself.
That was a Buddhist location in the Scottish Highlands. I will never forget it. It was the start of a natural progression that has led me here now, about to run a retreat for women myself, in partnership with my lifelong friend. And she was also with me at the aforementioned place!
A retreat is most definitely one of the most important things you can do for your wellbeing, because it allows you the space you need to rest, recover and reset. And from this place you can start to remember who you are and what taking care of yourself really means. I can’t think of anything more vital as we rebuild our lives now.
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Rebecca Barabich  |  Contribution: 505