Post ID 730

Posted by on April 3, 2020

“Solitude is rather like a folded-up forest I carry with me everywhere and unfurl around myself when I have need.”

Clarissa Pinkola Estes

I’m sure I don’t need to explain why retreats are so wonderful to ‘get away from it all’ and ‘fill yourself up’. What I am excited to share is something that I’ve only just realized, and that’s really boosted my ‘me time’. 

Maybe you’re like I was, and the word ‘retreat’ brings to mind a ‘spa day’ or a ‘women’s getaway’. Now I know that you can also retreat right in the middle of your everyday life and the results will do wonders for your heart, mind, body and soul.

I started reading Jennifer Louden’s classic work “The Woman’s Retreat Book” because I was planning a ski getaway with my husband. Little did I know that my favourite takeaway would be her basic outline of a retreat that has since allowed me to have mini-retreats anywhere at any time. 

Here’s my interpretation of her outline, along with 4 retreat ideas, that will have you retreating in the heart of the hustle in as few as two minutes. You’re welcome!

4 Steps to Retreat

What I didn’t know then that I know now: the success of a retreat is not about the location you’re in, the time you have nor the people you’re with – it’s about what you do and how you do it. 

1) Prepare to Retreat – 

Think about your basic plan, such as where and when you’ll go and if you’ll need any supplies. Remember it’s not about the amount of time away or the physical proximity to your regular life, but instead about how well you can create a temporary boundary from them.

You’ll also want to set an intention for your retreat reflecting what you need right now in this moment. This will give form to your retreat while also allowing the unknowable that will unfold. This starts the process of slowing down and turning inward. For best results, pose your retreat intention as a question that feels open ended, expansive and encouraging. “On this retreat, I intend to ask myself this question . . .?”

2) Withdraw from Ordinary Life –

Begin your retreat in a safe space where you feel sustained and comforted physically and emotionally. This could be your bedroom, your bathtub, the garden, on a walk or a sacred place in your imagination.

Perform an opening ceremony or symbolic action that signals to your psyche that you’re entering a sacred time (even if you’re not physically going anywhere special). Try one or more of tehse many options: restate your intention, read an opening poem or psalm, cross a threshold, put on special clothing or an accessory, light a candle, dance to a song or apply essential oils. 

3) Listen to Yourself – 

This is the body of the retreat where the ‘work’ is done. Choose activities that will help you answer your stated intention and listen to your inner knowing. There are endless options here: rest, move, sing, read, journal, reflect, paint, cook, daydream, build, breathe, play or sleep. Anything goes, as long as the result is that you’re coming back to your centre and working toward a truer and more authentic relationship with yourself. 

4) Return to Ordinary Life –

Wrap up your retreat by reflecting on your experience, including what you’ve done, how you’ve been, what answers you’ve discovered and how you might bring any of this into your everyday life. 

End with a closing ceremony or symbolic action, like the reverse of your opening ceremony, to consciously step back into life. You could try to: offer thanks, move energetically, journal on your experience, read a poem or psalm, pack up your space, take home a momento or mental snapshot. It could be as simple as stating “I am returning from my retreat. My intention was . . . and I discovered . . . I appreciate myself for taking this time to listen and learn.”

4 Quick Retreats to Try 

Here are just a few ideas about how you could easily create a retreat in your day, in under 30 minutes. For the greatest results, please adapt these ideas to specifically address your own intentions and interests. 

1) The ‘Step Away Retreat’ in 2 minutes 

  • Ask yourself “How can I allow myself to relax and be?”
  • Close the door or close your eyes and imagine yourself in a favourite place.
  • Ideas: deep breathing, do nothing, apply body lotion or essential oils, try legs-up-the-wall pose, stretch, do a body scan or notice your 5 senses.
  • Say “All is well in this present moment. Thank you for taking this time for yourself.”

2) The ‘Take a Break Retreat’ in 10 minutes

  • Ask yourself “What do I love and how can I celebrate that?”
  • Light a candle, put on a favourite accessory or read a favourite poem.
  • Ideas: Mindfully drink a cup of tea, shower or bathe, journal, rest on your bed, practice an instrument, meditate or have a dance break.
  • Reverse your opening practice and write down how you love and celebrate, so you can remember to do more of that in the future.

3) The ‘Nature Retreat’ in 20 minutes

  • Ask yourself “How am I feeling about . . . (a demanding situation)?”
  • Get dressed and step out the door.
  • Ideas: Walk, sit in the sun, forest bathe, work in the garden or play in the park.
  • Before stepping back inside, notice if any new insights or feelings have arisen.

4) The ‘Lunch Break’ Retreat in 30 minutes

  • Ask yourself “What do I need to do to refuel myself now?”
  • Leave your workplace, or wherever you were previously spending your time, and go somewhere safe and soothing. Make a ritual of some small special gesture on your way, like listening to music or making a special beverage. 
  • Ideas: Mindfully eat lunch, go outside, read, socialize (if this is refueling to you), stretch, move, breathe or create (draw, knit, write – whatever thrills you).
  • Before returning, notice how you are and say “I’m ready for the rest of my day!”

However you choose to retreat, I hope these ideas bring you one step closer to feeling the best that you can and hearing the wisdom and wonder of your own self. 

P.S. For more insights like this sent directly to your inbox, subscribe to my email community HERE.

Post ID 688

Posted by on June 21, 2019

How’d you get on last week with identifying your self-care needs and putting them into practice?

If you did it, awesome! Keep it up. If you didn’t, no worries. Today’s email is for you.

As much as we may want – or love – to nurture our self-care needs, we often feel RESISTANCE which keeps us from moving ahead. Today, let’s sort out what’s really going on.

First, it helps to know what’s up with resistance. When you feel stuck, and can’t seem to move forward with something, it can mean one of two things: either what you’re engaged in (or want to be engaged in) isn’t truly meeting your needs or you’re involved in something that does meet your needs, but clashes with your internal beliefs or self-concepts.

Think of something you’re resisting regarding self-care, and ask yourself:  Would this truly meet my needs? If no, move on to something that would. If yes, keep reading . . .

The next consideration is to discover what is causing your resistance. Again, there are two possibilities: your blocks may come from outside of you or from within you.

Outside resistance includes the practical, legitimate, concrete reasons that you cannot move forward. If you’re facing this type of resistance, chances are that you already know the work-around and are simply waiting for certain pieces to ‘fall into place’ before you can get on with it. Or maybe you don’t know the specific ‘how tos’ to accomplish what you want, but you do know that you can reach out to someone who can help you strategize your way forward. As per Pareto’s 80/20 Principle, this may be the cause of your resistance about 20% of the time.

The other 80% of the time, you’re likely facing resistance from within yourself. This is the trickier of the two to navigate, because you’re often not even aware that you are the source of the obstacle – that your mindset is the true block. Which of these inner resistance thoughts can you relate to, as inspired by Hannah Braime’s book “From Coping to Thriving”?

Top 7 Reasons for Inner Self-Care Resistance

1) “I don’t have the time.” Yes, we all have a million things to do. Which of those things matter most to you? And how would you be better able to tend to the other things if you were energized, motivated and full up from self-care? Prioritizing what you value most can be tricky to master, but once you have there’s no going back. Also, on your journey to clearing more space for yourself in your day, remember that some of the most effective practices take only moments, like breathing, looking at a beautiful view and envisioning a happy memory.

2) “I can’t afford it.” If money barriers are lurking, this is surely a mindset issue, as we all rationally know that self-care doesn’t have to cost a dime. Since many people equate their financial worth with their personal worth, it follows that such people may only invest in their self-care, financially or otherwise, when they feel worthy. If this sounds like you, I want to tell you that you are worthy and you do deserve self-care.

3) “Self-care wasn’t a thing for me growing up.” As with many of our unconscious beliefs, we may have received overt or underlying messages about self-care from our parents and authority figures in our formative years. However well-intentioned your guardians were or were not, and whether they deemed self-care acceptable or unacceptable, you may still carry their outdated self-care beliefs which need refreshing as they are no longer serving you.

4) “Society frowns upon it.” Additionally, we’re taught so much by our community, culture, religion, media and society, and not all of what we learn through this societal conditioning serves our highest good. For example, many women have internalized that we must be caregivers and put others needs before our own, or that we must not express our ‘negative’ emotions. We fear rejection if we don’t follow through with these ‘norms’. The truth is, as a human you are meant to love others without being a martyr and honour ALL of your emotional needs.

5) “It’s just another thing I ‘should’ be doing.” Thanks to social obligation as mentioned above, not meeting our ‘shoulds’, ‘need tos’ and ‘musts’ leads to resistance. The more obliged we feel about doing something – and the more accompanying self-judgement it brings – the more we will resist. If we are ashamed of some aspect of self-care, we will avoid it at all costs to also avoid experiencing the dreaded feelings of shame. The best way to suck all of the fun and value out of your self-care is to do it because you ‘should’, instead of because you ‘choose to’, ‘want to’ and ‘love’ to engage.

6) “I wish someone else would take care of me.” The more we yearn for someone to come and ‘save us’ by meeting our unmet needs, the longer we stay stuck. This also manifests as wanting to meet our needs without having to express, assert and negotiate how to meet them with others. If you can relate, I lovingly share that living your best life begins with taking responsibility for yourself, including meeting your own unmet needs.

7) “I don’t deserve it.” Self-care is a matter of health-care, not a question of whether or not we have earned it. You have the unconditional right and responsibility to take great care of yourself. The real question is how would you love to tend to your emotional, mental, spiritual and physical need? Understanding self-care as an essential priority in your life will help you ditch the guilt and see it as a necessary part of being alive.

Okay, now breathe.

That was a lot. You don’t have to get all entangled by the details of these barriers if they’re all too much. Simply pick one to explore, or if you prefer just take away the simple message that you deserve to take great care of you. And return to those fundamental questions:

What do I really need? What could I do today to get one step closer to meeting that need?

Yours in self-care,

Nicole

P.S. Want to receive more messages like this, straight to your inbox? Simply subscribe to my freebie here and you’ll also receive weekly empowering notes from me!

Posted in: Dreams, Empowerment, Mind

Post ID 677

Posted by on May 8, 2019

A boundary is not that at which something stops, but that from which something begins.” Martin Heidegger

 

Last week I shared a new way to look at “balance” in your life, and today as a powerful follow-up I hope to shift your view on “boundaries”.

Boundaries are limits we put into place to help each other meet our needs.

When I first learned about boundaries, I didn’t really understand what they were, and that was a good hint that I needed them in my life. I also felt boundary work had to be hard and heavy, but have since learned otherwise. Here’s a visual I love to help you rethink boundary setting as a healthy, compassionate practice.

 

Your Sacred Space

Imagine you have a beautiful yard, like a magical garden where you feel wonderful and the surroundings are beautiful. It’s a healthy, vibrant and secure space where you feel at peace and at home. This outdoor oasis represents you, your healthy inner experience and your lush self-care practices.

Beyond this space is the outside world, in whatever form that may look like for you according to your unique situation. Perhaps its a similarly beautiful garden setting, a dirty and dangerous junkyard or someplace in between. It represents whatever or whoever is in your life that feels threatening to your well-being.

Between these spaces is your sacred fence. Perhaps it’s a flourishing living fence of well-kept hedges and floral vines, or maybe it’s a solid and strong cedar fence, that smells as beautiful as it looks. This fence represents your boundaries. Its simple purpose is to delineate between the two environments. It exists whether being viewed from the inside out, or the outside in.

The goal here is to tend to your sacred space rather than the surrounding environment – to focus on what you value and what you want to protect vs. who or what you want to keep out. View your fence as a means to better enjoy what you’ve cultivated within your own yard, rather than for avoiding difficulties. In doing so, you operate from a place of self-love, avoid reacting to or punishing others and convey your boundaries with compassion so they are more warmly understood, received and respected.

And don’t forget that fences have gates, for the opportunity to let others into your yard as circumstances allow.

 

Build Your Fence

Could you relate to your situation in this metaphor? Or are you still unsure if you need to set some boundaries? Chances are you do if you feel constricted, upset, anxious, angry, irritated or are complaining about something. So for example, you may need to set limits if you . . .

  • have had it with your never ending “to do” list;
  • procrastinate because you can’t handle the pressure;
  • can’t take another minute of your loved one’s passive-aggressive communication;
  • won’t put up with being treated poorly any longer;
  • are stressed and overwhelmed by all the little things to do at home and work; or
  • want to take better care of your needs and feel like your enough.

So in these situations, and others like them, how will you take care of your “oasis”? What are your fences AND what will you do if someone crosses them?

What situations will you say “yes” or “no” to, to meet your own specific needs, wants and joys?

AND

What will you “do” or “not do” if these boundaries are crossed, by yourself or others?

Naturally, you will also want to respect other people’s boundaries too. If you are on the receiving end of someone drawing a line, you’ll now understand that everyone’s boundary needs are different, boundaries aren’t necessarily personal or your fault, and the best response is “Thank you for telling me about your boundary and I’ll do my best to respect it.”

Ultimately, boundaries are about self-worth. By compassionately setting and upholding them for yourself, you are growing and nourishing your own self-worth. Yes please!

. . . . .

If you would love to talk to me about your boundary-related issues, you’ll want to claim my new introductory offer.

“Balance & Boundaries” is my new introductory 1:1 Coaching Intensive. If you’re ready to: Get clarity on your balance issues; develop solutions for your most pressing needs; cultivate boundaries to uphold your desires and leave with the confidence to move forward, this is for you!

Check out all the details here: Balance & Boundaries Intensive

To your sacred space!

Nicole

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