Retreat: a quiet or secluded place in which one can rest and relax

Have you ever been on a retreat? I just got back from India, I went to South Goa and stayed a 2 minute walk from Palolem Beach on a yoga retreat. It wasn’t what I was expecting. I have always had a bit of an unrealistic, magical, fantasy about India, it has always been somewhere I have dreamt about visiting. I finally plucked up the courage to book myself on a retreat and to explore it for myself.

I went alone. The second I hit the ‘book’ button my anxiety kicked in and I started thinking about every possible outcome of what could go wrong. I have personally got to a place where I feel very comfortable in my own company, in fact I crave my own space. It can make some people feel uncomfortable the thought of being alone or even seeing others alone. You get some people that feel the need to step in and ‘save you,’ You get other single travellers that you can sense cling to you, some that feel sorry for you and others that judge you. It always fascinates me how we react so differently to being alone but what I felt so true during my trip was ‘not all who wander are lost.’ I wasn’t going to India to ‘find myself’ I just wanted to go and I need nobody but myself to live an experience I have always wanted.

The retreat was my definition of nourishment. Yoga 3 times a day, meditation, all vegan food. Not once did I even crave the sugar and alcohol that seems to control me back at home (for me that was ground breaking!) Being away from work, my daily commute, social media and the normal every day stresses gave me the capacity to ‘just be.’ Not once was I bored or stuck and every moment was filled with something that brought me joy – walking, eating, shopping, journaling, meditating. Living in the UK the heat alone makes my body feel happy, it makes me feel flexible, elastic and healthy. The sound of the waves and the shades of the blue from the sea lift my spirit, there is no place I feel more at peace than by the water.

It wasn’t as ‘zen’ as I had hoped. The monkeys running across my roof made it hard to sleep along with the repetitive fireworks every (yes every) night. Then there was the loud music, Karaoke bars and drinking till the early hours of the morning. It was also funny watching my yoga teachers smoke weed after an intense Yin class. Great energy but it wasn’t quite the spiritual yoga retreat I had originally visioned.

What it highlighted for me, is that even all the way in India (the zen capital of the World) there lies disappointments. There lies insecurity, there lies uncertainty, there lies sleepless nights. There lies vulnerability and unprocessed trauma from people trying to find their own escape. A trip to India is full of colour, it’s rejuvenating, new, exciting and eye opening. Of course a week of having no commitments, no work and limited access to people is going to be bliss. Of course I am going to feel calm, centred relaxed and rested. The question is how do I bring those feelings back to my every day life in the UK?

What is it about my life that means I don’t have time for these simple things every week? What else am I putting first? How can I feel rested and relaxed at home?

So I invite you to ask yourself, how do you retreat? Where do you retreat? When do you retreat? What does the word retreat mean to you?

‘Build a life you don’t need a vacation from’

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