Retreat Myths

Namaste, vinyasa, savasana”…. What in the world are these yogis saying!? They speak an entirely different language that can’t possibly resonate with the norm.  Tell me again about how I need to activate and balance my chakras. Or better yet, speak to me in sanskrit like I know what you’re saying.

Does this sound familiar? Do you feel like you would like to attend a retreat with these people?!

I could go on about how inadequate or out of place I believed I would feel at a retreat.  I have become a tree-hugger; I love crystals they are pretty, come on! I firmly believe in the life-changing impact a retreat can have on a normal woman like me. The ideas that I believed about who attended these retreats were all really my own insecurities.

I want to tell you the truth about retreats, why I had it all wrong! So, here you go – the myth busters about retreats.

Retreats consist only of women clothed in head-to-toe yoga gear

While you may find a few women who clearly practice yoga day in and day out, retreats aren’t just yoga retreats! My first retreat experience was a pleasant surprise to learn about their diverse offerings. I danced freer than I ever have, and surprisingly this was extremely liberating.  I journaled about deep dark stuff, the stuff that keeps me awake at night; to help release the hold of fear over me (I was able to bring that tool home and use it).  I had time to truly enjoy being in nature, nowhere to go.

You’ll be fed only lettuce leaves and hummus

I’m a coffee lover, a flat white and chocolate brownie every time; daily if I could No.13 The Factory, delicious 😊.  I typically eat what I want, I know I feel better when I eat healthier. I also like a glass of red wine and chocolate, preferable dark. One of my biggest fears about attending a retreat was that I would starve or that my sugar levels would drop so low that I wouldn’t be able to even stand in a yoga pose.  They fed me “healthy” food, it was nutritious and all sourced locally.  I didn’t starve!  We had plenty of healthy treats to sustain the body.

I can’t leave my children, or I can’t afford it, or I can’t because I have a hair appointment.

I understand, we are all busy! Whether you’re a mother or father, a daughter or son, you’re busy! The question is, are you always going to be too busy to follow the desire to take care of you? The call to invest in self-care, to reconnect with who you truly are? This one is different for everyone.  I can only speak for myself. When I finally took the leap, I had everything I had ever wanted in my life. The beautiful home, wonderful family and friends, the career that I was proud to go to day-in and day-out, holidays overseas, great social life!  I had all these things that were supposed to fulfill me, to make me happy. The thing is, I wasn’t happy. I felt something was missing. I finally knew it was time to listen to my inner voice, my desire to heal, breathe and to live.

You must be going through a life-changing, transformational event to “need” a retreat.

Personally, yes, I was going through a transformation, but in all honesty, I didn’t even know that’s what was happening.  My inner dialogue was always responding to the desires in my head with negativity.  I spent years telling myself, “you have no reason to be unhappy”, “you have everything”.  I was hard on myself and that voice made me feel inadequate. It doesn’t matter what everyone else sees, or the compliments you receive, if you aren’t happy with yourself, that voice will continue to niggle.

My initial reasoning for attending a retreat was to take some time to recharge my mind and body, reconnect with my soul, and renew my spirit. Those reasons alone sound transformational, but during those days spent on retreats, I met myself for the first time. Sounds out there, I know.  I was no longer running around from one place to another, planning the next thing to avoid my feelings.  So, whether you’re finishing college, or changing your job, or retiring, or even if you’re happier and more fulfilled than you’ve ever been, don’t you deserve a retreat to hear yourself? Self-care is not selfish! It’s the opposite.  You can’t nurture and care for the ones you hold closest to your heart, without nurturing your own.     

You must go all spiritual to get deep and real.

You can be “spiritual”, or not. You may pray every day to a higher power, or not. You may chant “om” every morning, or not. At the end of the day, there’s no judgement in what YOU do to help YOU be your happiest. The people who come to a retreat know just that.  Their opinion about methods of self-love and self-care, are that alone, their opinions. They have their own reasons for being there. You quickly learn you are surrounded by a community of like-minded people who want nothing but peace and joy for you.

Hope some of these myth busters cleared up any hesitations you have for attending a retreat.

Check out Eileen Sheehan Wellness for upcoming retreats and wellness programmes.


Vive La France

Long live France!

I love France, I remember a school tour to Paris gazing up at the Eiffel Tower in total awe and wonderment.  Years of appreciation for their cuisine, wine and art.  I learnt to snowboard while living in the French Alps, my grasp of the French language hasn’t improved all that much, I can get from A to B, read a menu and ask C’est Combien (How much?) most important as the market culture is amazing!

3HO Europe – Healthy Happy Holy

Why am I talking about France, I headed off two weeks ago to my first overseas yoga festival it was the biggest immersion of yoga since my training in Nepal. I got up each morning at 4am for seva, my seva for the festival was vegetable chopping with a team of people from all over Europe. We chopped for 3,000 people. My hands didn’t know what hit them!

What is seva? Seva is selfless service to others, the community, and the globe.  The Sanskrit word comes from the meaning to serve or to honour.  What we term in our culture as ‘Giving Back’ similar to the work I have done serving as a board trustee of VSO Ireland.  You may serve your community, school, local sport team by volunteering.  This is one of the highest forms of yoga.  Giving back has such powerful emotion behind it, you are honouring your true self.  Find a community or charity that resonates with you, provide support with the gifts and talents that you have to give. Time is one of the biggest gifts you have to give.

Suzanne my roomie from Sweden was on the same seva so that helped, if we didn’t have seva we went to Sadhana, the moon used to shine brightly our path to the Sadhana field where hundreds of people gathered to practice yoga, chanting and meditation.  A complete practice first thing in the morning led by wonderful teachers, live musicians on stage chanting as the sun rose in the sky!

Sadhana is a disciplined practice that you commit to yourself each morning, it’s a time of great connection to you.  No ego, no mind getting in the way, well of course it tries but with constant commitment and discipline you will find moments of inner peace and calm that make you feel so GOOD! True connection to the nature within you.  It’s truly beautiful.


We know that the early riser catches the worm! Whether your practice is religious, spiritual, physical movement, reading sacred script.  What works for you, what makes your heart sing, takes you out of your head, within 21days you will have a habit, within 40days you’ll see numerous benefits. Do it!

Want to feel calm, trust the decisions you make are from the heart, be in your centre, and stay strong and grounded. This is for you.

With lots of love, if you want support for the process of cultivating sadhana in your life, follow my blog or Facebook.

We are the Champions!

I have to mark the occasion, I’ve written before in Sacred Rituals about spending Sunday’s following our county team Limerick around Ireland as they played hurling. After 45years, they won the All Ireland hurling final, it was magic for us Limerick supporters, my cousin Vera was like do we ‘dare to dream’.  The guys on the field are amateurs as in they don’t get paid to play, it’s the GAA tradition that’s unique and strong in its stance to date. It’s outstanding the effort both physical and emotionally they put into the game.  Commitment, determination, belief!

Captain Declan Hannon

The self-belief that’s been evident all year, the coaching team around them believed, the team believed and we believed for the first time in years that we may win an All-Ireland.

Where does self-belief come from, how do you cultivate it and keep that inner strength alive even in the eye of the storm. Its trust, trust in ourselves number one to be able to do the task at hand, say how we feel, trust in our abilities and capabilities.



Being realistic and optimistic – how you choose your words to describe the situation you’re in. How it’s been framed in your mind, in your emotions will have an impact on the result.  It’s healthy to have self-belief and self-confidence.  When you step forward to make that presentation, take that free in a game, show up for an interview you tell yourself the narrative beforehand. It’s your story!

I like this from Henry Ford “Whether you think you can or whether you think you can’t, you’re right.”

How do you recognise that self-belief and build on it? Everyone has doubts and disappointments in life, it’s how you deal with it and tell the story. You can choose the narrative.

Here’s a quick exercise, grab a sheet of paper and write down what you enjoy, why and what you’ve achieved – keep it in a place you can see it daily.  If you’re having a block and can only think of what you haven’t achieved, see if you can reframe that thought into something that you have overcome or changed.  You have made an impact, it may be a smile to someone when needed, offered support, listened to a friend in need.  Now see if you can recall your strengths, what your friends and family admire about you.

Now recall three things that happened today that you’re grateful for it may be a phone call, a cup of coffee and a ray of sunshine. Notice how you feel, as in your body,  is it calm and relaxed? It enjoys basking in this moment.

Gratitude builds self-belief and trust.  Want to trust the decisions you make are from the heart, be in your centre, and stay strong and grounded. Practice gratitude daily.

With lots of love, if you want support in the process of cultivating gratitude in your life, follow my blog or facebook as I share the beautiful Buddhist tradition of Loving Kindness.

In tribute to Dolores O’Riordan from the Cranberries whose song is the anthem of the year in Limerick ‘Dreams’ RIP x


Sacred Rituals

I’ve always been a fan of rituals, each summer my mother would bring us to the Novena in the Redemptorist Church, Limerick.  They have a great tradition of getting the congregation to sing and be part of the celebration of mass.  Christmas was spent at my grandparents, on Christmas night and St Stephens Day the ‘Wren Boys’ came round to sing, dance and play traditional Irish music.  Another one, my Dad is an ardent supporter of hurling and camogie, and it’s in every pore of my being.  Our Sunday’s were spent on the road wearing our local club or county colours!  Fun times.. These rituals with family and friends created memories, influenced my beliefs and built strong understanding of community.

Preparing for my first day as Reiki Teacher took months of daily rituals, daily routine, daily ceremonies.  Rituals are like weddings, rites of passage, presenting a cup to the winning captain after a game, your cup of tea or coffee in the morning before the day starts.  These rituals give us time to celebrate the successful moments, creating memories and feelings in our being that we recall and share afterwards.

Building a daily routine takes practice and preparation, it’s like having your shorts and trainers at the front door ready for the next run.  Also been kind when you miss a practice, recognise why and get back to it the day after.  Sometimes you need to have a sleep in or in my case my puppy needed an extra walk to shake off her high energy!  The rituals allow us to release those thoughts and feelings that no longer support our way of living, calling in new ways of being at ease with life.

Honouring the Reiki traditions of my masters kept me focused and clear on what I wanted to achieve each day.  Connecting daily to the universe life force, letting the energy flow through me and allow my clients to receive the healing best for them.  Reiki is an incredible discipline that can cleanse your body and further your spiritual understanding of yourself and the world around you.

What daily rituals support you to keep you focused and connected to those around?  Do you sit in meditation in the morning? Maybe a walk in the park or a swim in the sea. We all have a ritual that sustains our mind and body.  Giving yourself a boost of energy with a Reiki treatment is like the clouds parting on a stormy day.

Summer Time

It must be love, love, love

Nothing more,

Nothing less,

Love is the best!

A snippet of the words from the Madness hit back in the 90’s came to me after our meditative walk through the forest as we had watched the sun rise on the Solstice.

It was magical as we all chanted ‘Om So Hum’ while practising yoga, the forest listened as we all connected.  ‘So Hum’ is derived from Sanskrit and literally means ‘I am That’ meaning we identify ourselves with the universe, as we chant or meditate on this, we realise that we are all one, we all come from one infinite source that’s present in all of us.

Yoga in the Forest (2)
Om So Hum

Summer is my high energy time; sunshine brings me the yellow of joy to celebrate and use up every ounce of daylight!  Last week was full of sounds with a gong bath, walking mindfully and teaching yoga in nature.  Guiding a meditation class of loving kindness, hiking in the Wicklow Mountains and more..why?

It’s my season I know I come alive when the sun shines, I love the long summer days, the smell of cut grass, and the brightness in the mornings.  The beautiful sunsets illuminating the skyline, lying about in the sun soaking up the warm breeze, catching up with friends and family eating outdoors.

Summer Hike
Wicklow Mountains

How do you feel during the summer? Do you take time to soak up and fill your heart with gratitude as you enjoy the summer holidays? Maybe autumn is your season when the leaves are changing colours and falling.  Whatever your season notice how you mind and body feels and do what’s good for you.

Share the love

Sharing our passion and being brave to step forward is a challenge for all of us at some level. The internal conversation of whether we’re good enough, what will they think of me, comparing ourselves to other.

Saturday last our retreat day of Reiki and Yoga took place in a gorgeous sun filled room, we worked with feeling our own energy knowing what it feels like after chanting, movement and if someone else is in our energy field. Such curiosity, playfulness and willingness to experience.  I was so inspired by the ladies and the words they used to express how the day felt for them Powerful, Fulfilling, Grounded, Open, Peaceful and Free’. I went for a swim that evening in the Irish Sea to celebrate the sunny day on all levels. So full of gratitude as you can see from the headline pic 🙂

Sunset Seapoint.jpg

We have the choice that is what’s beautiful about this life, what one step can you take this week to look after your well-being? Looking after your well-being allows you to have the strength both physically and emotionally to make the next step.  Maybe a walk in nature without the distraction of the phone, your tea/coffee sitting outside listening to the morning sounds, make a phone call to a friend who inspires you.

You know what’s good for you, trust it, take the step.

Stepping into my Power

The feeling of fresh ground

Just broken

Overturned by barefoot reaching


The smell of upturned earth

And dew refreshing


The breeze of freedom blowing in land,

The mountains rising to meet you

Signify they can be climbed

They are only a matter of footsteps

-Stephen Clare, June 2018-

Give a Gift of Gratitude

Giving thanks, gratitude for what you have, for where you are, for the loved ones around you, all the small things like your morning ritual of having a cup of tea! I was reading the Life magazine today after meditation class and Jamie Heaslip the retired Irish rugby player brought home the practice of gratitude.  ‘I am very grateful for where we are right now.  You do have to give thanks and, for me, gratitude is a big thing.  Every evening I write a little note of gratitude in a journal.  I give thanks and I let it out into the ether and just let it be.  I deal with life as it comes, but right now I feel a very lucky man.’

We had a glorious calming meditation class this morning where we went through two stages of Loving Kindness practice.  The Loving Kindness practice originated in the Buddhist tradition, where it is called ‘Metta Bhavana’.  The practice helps us to develop feelings of kindness, compassion, friendliness, love and acceptance, of ourselves and towards others.

One piece of homework from today was to keep a gratitude journal – at the end of each day, write down three things you’re grateful for.  It’s best to be specific and details about particular occurrence during the day. Seeing a beautiful sunrise, getting a seat on the bus, having a coffee with your best friend..see what Oprah has to say.

Here’s one of the science based reasons to practice loving-kindness, you’ll see the impact within 7 weeks!

Increases Positive Emotions & Decreases Negative Emotions; In a landmark study, Barbara Frederickson and her colleagues ( Fredrickson, Cohn, Coffey, Pek, & Finkel, 2008) found that practicing 7 weeks of loving-kindness meditation increased love, joy, contentment, gratitude, pride, hope, interest, amusement, and awe. These positive emotions then produced increases in a wide range of personal resources (e.g., increased mindfulness, purpose in life, social support, decreased illness symptoms), which, in turn, predicted increased life satisfaction and reduced depressive symptoms.

You may have tried meditation once or twice. And many of you will have found it hard and concluded that “meditation is not for me.” There are mantra meditations, visualization meditations, open-focus meditations, breath-based meditations and so many more. You just have to find the one for you! An easy one to start with is one that evokes a very natural state in you: kindness.

Join us for the next meditation class keep an eye on the schedule online or facebook

In the meantime wish yourself well

May I be well. May I be happy. May I live with ease.