A moment of mindfulness
Whether it be a moment of mindfulness, an hour of intent, or an entire day of indulgence, a retreat is a perfect way to re-energise mind, body and spirit.
A retreat is a time-out. Time out from the everyday, just to focus on you. The tricky thing, especially with a new baby in the mix, is making 'Mum's time-out' a priority and committing to it. It's easier to make excuses: “I’m still breast-feeding, I can’t leave baby for a whole day”, “My husband works really hard during the week, it would be unfair to saddle him with the kids for the entire weekend”, or “If I did take time out, imagine the state of the house when I got home! It’s just not worth it”.
The sad truth is it is harder to say “I need some time for me, so I’m asking for your help”. But remember this: your world will not fall apart without you for 24 hours, but it just might if you don’t ever stop to take care of yourself.
Here are a few ways you can find retreat, whether you have only a few minutes to spare, or the luxury of an entire weekend.
If you’re time and money poor, there’s one easy, guaranteed way to find the peace and calm a retreat promises. Get in touch with nature – be it among the bush, at the beach, or around the bay. Your intention isn’t to make this a cardio workout, so forget the heart-pumping iTunes playlist. Instead, slow it down and tune in all your senses. Listen to the birds, be awed by that waterfall, breathe in the smell of saltwater and experience a few quiet moments of gratitude. It will do your body and soul a world of wonders. The Japanese have a term for it, 'shinrin-yoku', which is literally translated as ‘forest bathing’.
Researchers have found that after just half an hour of leisurely walking in the woods, participants had improved blood pressure and cortisol (stress) levels. In another study, women who walked for more than two hours in a forest, on two consecutive days, had a remarkable 40% surge in the activity of cancer-fighting white blood cells.
Home is where the heart is
If your obstacle is getting out of the house, then bring the retreat to you. Call upon your mother, partner, or a friend – someone who can come and keep the house running and the children minded, while you hide yourself away behind closed doors. It may be your bedroom for a home yoga practice, or it may be luxuriating for an hour or so in the bath, creating a mini-spa retreat.
The key here is props. In order to take your mind off all the other things you think you should be doing, you need to set the scene – light candles, play some relaxing ethereal music, burn some essential oils. Cultivate a shrine to your hour or so of indulgence. That means no phone, no television, no Facebook. Let go of the to-do list. Just be. Here. Now.
A day to detox
Recently, OHbaby!’s former Deputy Editor, Rochelle Gillespie, was lucky enough to dedicate an entire day to a retreat. She joined around 30 other women in Auckland’s Ponsonby for the Spring Detox Wellness Retreat. During the nervous chit-chat at the start of the day, they realised that they were, by-and-large, all first-timers at such a retreat. The day began with a yoga workout which was suitable for beginners and for those who practise yoga regularly. Next came workshops on the effects of hormones, the benefits of natural cosmetics, on using Feng Shui to re-energise your home and on how to make delicious healthy green smoothies. There was reflexology on offer, and a blissful calming yoga session with essential oils to finish. Melissa Carroll, who runs the Wellness Retreats (wellnessretreats.co.nz), is all about giving you tools to continue your own wellness journey, which begins by giving yourself permission to spend one day dedicated just to you. This is the sort of retreat many of us aspire to. It may be difficult to pull it off, but it is so worth it.
GET THE MOST FROM YOUR RETREAT
1. If you’re shy or nervous, go with a friend. Rochelle says there were a couple of mother-daughter pairs on her retreat day.
2. If childcare is an issue, try swapping duties with a friend. You have her kids for the day while she has her retreat, and then she’ll repay the favour.
3. If you have never done yoga before, and are feeling unsure about being in a public class, pop onto YouTube and do some home-based practices in the weeks before your retreat. We recommend the Yoga with Adriene channel –be warned though, this charming Texan is infectious and you might just get hooked!
4. Arrive with plenty of time to get yourself into the right head space for the day ahead, and leave any lingering guilt at the door. You deserve this. Truly.
5. Put what you learn into practice right away. Maybe not everything will resonate with you, but those things that do can be life-changing. Before the enthusiasm wears off, start implementing them in your home life and they’ll fast become habits.
6. Being a mother can sometimes feel like being a CEO, and just as the bosses of big businesses go on regular retreats with their executive teams to debate strategy and goals, you also need to take time out to recognise and acknowledge your parenting wins; a retreat will enable you to consider your mothering journey with a fresh perspective.
So let's do this together! Let's make time to regularly recollect, reflect and refresh.
AS FEATURED IN ISSUE 32 OF OHbaby! MAGAZINE. CHECK OUT OTHER ARTICLES IN THIS ISSUE BELOW