A retreat is to the whole of life what meditation is to each day. The soul gathers new strength and, transformed and sanctified, returns to the tasks and duties that fill up our lives. Giving oneself is easier when the soul has renewed its interior provision. | Elisabeth Leseur
I felt the emotion creep into my throat as I said goodbye to him. He leaned over from the passenger side seat and kissed me. “Have fun” and “I love you” I croaked as tears started to well up into my eyes. And then he was gone. And just as suddenly, so were the tears.
It was 5.15am and I had just dropped Julien off at the airport to board his first series of flights to Fiji. As the weariness of the early morning stilled my mind, the sadness of his leaving, was quietly replaced by an expanding joy: the 11 days that stretched ahead of me that were to be 100% mine.
Months earlier I had decided to do a cleanse or detox while he was away. I came up with different ideas and plans, until finally intuition guided my to something softer, gentler and sweeter: an 11 day at-home self-love and nurture retreat and detox.
The more I delve deeper into creating — truly creating — my life, through intention, manifesting and holding the space to receive, the more I learn about the cellular, and at times even DNA-level changes that I have to make, and that take place within me, in order for me to be able to match the frequency of the reality that I creating.
I have spent most of my life in some state of adrenalin. From a hectic and unstable childhood, to drug use, to intensive head-first travel, to corrosive intimate relationships; adrenal ‘excitement’ was my normal. To the point that peaceful, loving, calm in my life felt like there was something ‘wrong’. And I would create some kind of situation or drama, to return to that adrenal level of ‘excitement’.
What I have discovered is that anxiety tends to be habitual rather than consequential.
Most of us allow anxiety, fear and adrenalin run the show of our lives, without actually realising it. We have been socialized to believe that this is ‘normal” and if normal means mainstream, then yes, it is normal. But it doesn’t have to be. And it most certainly shouldn’t be, if you’re aiming for extraordinary.
In the past two years particularly, my subconscious addiction to anxiety and adrenalin, is a pattern I have been addressing the most, by making daily, conscious, micro-changes in my choices, and the way I approach life. Learning to relax and be at ease with calm, gentle, loving, supportive and nourishing experiences has been ground-breaking in changing myself at a cellular level to allow even more ‘good’ into my life.
This retreat was the next step of allowing myself to receive the wholeness and fullness of those changes, and devoting myself to them entirely, in a very practical way.
I spent the first day mapping out and planning what I wanted my retreat to include and set my intentions.
- (filling myself up with) Deep rest.
- (making space for) Big dreams.
- (next level) Connection with spirit.
While I wasn’t strict with my schedule except for the first part: mediate; lemon water; get ready for the day; most days pretty much went like this.
7.30 — 8.30am: Meditate.
8.30am — 9am: Drink freshly pressed lemon with warm water, and prepare for the day.
9am — 12pm: Work. Write or do my 1:1 client sessions.
12pm — 1pm: Banana milkshake (frozen bananas blended with water, cinnamon and natural peanut butter) for lunch. Sit in the sun if possible, or read inside.
1pm — 4pm: Depending on the day and how I felt I would either work, especially if I had client calls. Or I would read, go for a walk, write in my journal, play my ukulele, sing, go to a meeting, get a massage, see my osteopath, or simply be still and rest.
4pm — 6pm: Have my soup, chill out, relax and rest, and get ready for yoga.
6pm — 8pm: Yoga.
8pm — 9pm: Take care of any last-minute emails and social media posts for the day, and get ready for bed.
9pm — 11pm: Either read and then do a mediation, or mediate and then go straight to sleep.
The first two days my mind was busy tuned into a more spacious, relaxed way of spending my time and I felt so hungry, while my body adjusted to eating less and lighter. The second day I remember looking around the kitchen looking for anything, anything to eat, and I supplemented with a couple of kiwi fruit to keep my growling stomach preoccupied. After I adjusted, I immediately felt so much happier and lighter.
I noticed that, as I took more time out to feel, and be instead of do all the time, my body and approach to life became softer, gentler and kinder. It was a direct reflection: the kinder I was to myself, the kinder life was being to me, and that felt damn good.
In this first few days, I sat down and got really clear on my dreams, the process of which I shared in this Instagram post. You can tell in my writing that I already started to feel really, really good.
Over the next five days, my energy levels increased, my level of joy and appreciation for everything burgeoned and I started to adore my body at a whole new level. Halfway through my cleanse I had even lost 1.5 kilos, and that was without even trying. I was very reflective and shared those thoughts and feelings in this post here.
In the last few days, my level of ‘feeling good’ peaked. It is amazing what a little space, self-care and clean diet can do, in just over a week. I felt sexy, healthy and nurtured on every level.
In many ways, I felt like the time alone, and away from my man was imperative to do some of the inner releasing work that was a part of my retreat. Every day was dedicated to letting go of beliefs, attitudes and habits that didn’t serve me.
let it go
let it leave
let it happen
in this world
was promised or
belonged to you
all you own is yourself | Rupi Kaur
This quote became the focus of my Full Moon ritual and echoed the essence of my 11 day retreat so beautifully.
What was especially interesting was that I was processing a lot of hidden, subconscious stuff around my connection and relationship with the masculine. This includes the balance of masculine within me, as well as my relationship with men and masculine energy in my life.
Alongside letting go of old habits of anxiety in my life, another aspect I have consciously been addressing is balancing the masculine in my life.
I have always found it much easier to work with feminine energy, flow, magnetism and manifesting, than I have with the masculine aspects of structure, action, strength and direction. Having a business to run has stretched and grown me in this way, as it requires a very fine approach with both aspects and using them at the right time, and there is plenty more for me to learn.
Speaking with my osteopath after one of our sessions, I learned that in order to create more balance it would be wise to develop my physical strength, especially in my upper body and core. Our bodies are always an indicator of our internal and experiential worlds, and mine is certainly on the weaker end of that spectrum.
It’s exciting when you find parts of yourself you never knew existed. Having a break from ‘normal’ life is such a wonderful way to explore and discover those parts.
I so loved having lots of space and time over those 11 days. They have been so soul-nourishing and my heart feels full. They have also given me a new standard of how life could feel every day, when I make space, time and self-care a priority.
Through simply giving myself space to ‘be’, I let go of many remaining threads that were imbedded in my subconscious, and hindering me for having and enjoying the next steps of life that I am embarking on. I notice that this year, life is taking me down a completely new pathway that has no prescription. I adore living life from such an intuitive, trusting and surrendered space, and love that I have found the courage and the guidance to approach life in this way.
I have no idea where I’ll end up, but what I do know, that it doesn’t even matter. It’s all about the journey, not about the destination.
THINGS I LEARNED
- I often eat when I’m tired. Instead of taking time to lay down and rest or sleep, I’ll try to fuel my body with food, when what it really needs is rest. I know now, that taking half an hour to chill, is much better for me, than eating something, to refuel.
- My body doesn’t enjoy ingesting coconut oil / cream / milk. For years I’ve been told that these are healthy fats necessary for a good diet, but as soon as I stopped including them, my skin cleared up and I felt lighter and healthier. I intuitively recognised that coconut products were the cause of this.
- I used to think being physically strong is so unfeminine, but I’ve come to realise that my body actually craves being strong. Quite to my surprise it actually feels really good! So I’ve decided to commit to building up my body strength with weight training. This is a new and weird world for me, so any insights and support and beyond welcome!
- It’s crucial for my mental and spiritual health to get plenty of rest and relaxation time. More than I ever thought I could or should allow myself to have. Learning to relax into my life and work, however, has benefits far beyond anything I had ever previously imagined.
- Having meals organised and prepped for the week ahead is so supportive! A smoothie, a soup and a snack are all I had every day, and it’s something that I want to keep doing. It’s just about being organised, but the amount of time I saved, and could focus on other things that make me happy, was incredible. Plus I felt healthier, lighter and more nourished. Life can be so easy, when you are organised!
- I feel so much more hydrated and less thirsty when I eat high-water content meals. Hydration through foods is key to good health because your body absorbs this water an it’s minerals faster and better this way. I am obsessed with being hydrated and tend to drink a lot of water, but I’ve noticed that this habit is also flushing out lots of the minerals my body needs. Eating water-rich foods is actually much more supportive.
My 11-day retreat ended much like it began. At the airport I arrived moments before he walked out, looking all scruffy and sun-tanned from his time in Fiji. He put his things on the back seat, climbed in the passenger side and leaned over for a soft, languid kiss. I missed this silly hunk of a man. But I enjoyed my time deeply nourishing and loving myself, and getting to know myself at a deeper level, just as much.
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