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 692

Posted by on August 14, 2019

“Sustainable happiness is . . . found in our relationship to place.” Richard Louv

 

Where do you feel most at home? 

On this lifelong adventure of being happy and whole, knowing this about yourself is gold.

There are many ways to know you’re on the right track to being your truest self on the inside and out. Today I have 3 fun questions you can ask to more fully be yourself and enjoy your life.

1) Where do you feel the most like yourself, at peace and alive – the most at home? 

This is on my mind as I’m currently at the place where I feel most at home – my family’s summer camp (or cottage or cabin if you prefer :).

Built on a beautiful lake by my grandparents in simpler times, when resources were treasured, craftsmanship was beautiful and the good times were oh so good, I’ve been blessed to spend summers here my entire life. 

Camp’s a part of me. I’m part of camp.

This is where I feel most at home. What about you? Even if it’s a specific patch of earth where you spent only moments, remember yourself in that place where you felt most like you.

2) As you picture yourself in that place, what adjectives describe how you feel there? 

I think about this all the time as I know there’s wisdom in our feelings. When I think about how I feel at camp, it’s no surprise to me that the words that come to mind very accurately describe my own personal values . . .

  • Connected – The loving and joyous times come to mind – with family and friends, young and old, today and yesterday
  • Simple – Camp life is easy life, it’s minimalist and routine in the best way which makes everything more simple and fun
  • Free – Living in the moment with barely a care in the world, spacious and away from life’s stressors
  • Natural – From morning through night, in all weather and elements, barefoot if I please, appreciating the wonder everywhere and feeling like a part of it all
  • True – This is me and this is where I feel most like me.

What words arise when you consider how you feel and why you feel that way in your “home”?

3) How does this awareness help you? 

The place you feel most at home is a ‘sacred space’ of sorts. In some cases, you may be able to return to this place that feels like home to feel whole, centred and true. More practically, you can recreate elements of this place in your everyday life. 

I use this insight about myself to guide my actions whenever possible. When it comes to my self-care, my personal life or my business, I use these words as a compass to make decisions and to guide my next steps.

How can I make this more connected, simple, free, natural or true?

For instance, when it’s time to take good care of me, I may ask myself what I can do to increase my experience of just one of my above 5 words. Maybe I need to meet up with a friend to meet my need for connection, or perhaps I can go for a walk to connect to nature. 

I do the same for my personal and professional life – how can I make housework more simple? How can I share more of my truth in these business emails? The more I align with my values, the more in flow and enjoyable life seems to be. 

I also use these words when facing decisions. To help me choose, I consider which option would bring me the most connection, simplicity, freedom, nature and truth.

Now it’s your turn. Considering the feelings you’ve noted for yourself, choose one and decide what you can do today to invite a little more of that into your life?

There’s no place like “home”,

     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: Empowerment, Heart, Spirit

Post ID 684

Posted by on June 10, 2019

In my household, summers are always high energy, and this year is no exception. As we pack up and clean the whole house to move out for the summer months, prepare to spend two months travelling and camping, and finish up our commitments and activities for the school year, I’m doing my best to practice self-care.

I suspect some of you may be in a similar place, which is why this month I’m diving into the subject of Self-Care, to help us ‘manage the mayhem’ and ‘fuel up’ for the active months ahead.

What is Self-Care?

Self-Care means taking care of yourself (no kidding? ;). It includes the behaviours, actions and practices that you engage in to nourish your body, mind, heart and spirit.

For me, Self-Care is half of the Self-Love equation.

The other half is Self-Compassion which includes the feelings, emotions, thoughts and beliefs that you have, again in support of your whole best self. Self-Compassion is the inner state of being that directs Self-Care, the outward expression, resulting in Self-Love a.k.a. self-worth.

Self-Care + Self-Compassion = Self-Love

I begin here with Self-Care because it can be easily practiced, in small increments of time and with no cost. Over time, you can build your Self-Care practices, and start to address Self-Compassion too.

What do you need?

The first and simplest step to Self-Care is to identify and meet your needs. If you’re like many women I coach – and myself at times – I bet you rarely, if ever check in with yourself in this way.

So now’s the time. Let’s do this . . . Pause for a minute, and notice what comes to mind when you ask yourself: What do I really need? Considering your body, mind, heart and spirit, and noticing without judgement nor censoring, what answers come to mind?

Next, ask yourself: What could I do right now or today to meet that need? If your needs are great, another, less overwhelming way to approach this is to consider: What could I do to get 5% closer to meeting that need today?

Now get out there and try it! Small and consistent actions toward meeting your daily needs will build into a beautiful Self-Care practice over time, one kind step at a time.

Your self-care sister,

Nicole

P.S. Superior Sisterhood: The Self-Care Sessions continue through June. I’m interviewing various wellness professionals about their personal and professional experiences with Self-Care. Join us at: www.subscribepage.com/SuperiorSelf-Care

Posted in: Empowerment, Renewal, Spirit
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