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.