How to "retreat" right where you are

One of the highlights of my summer was an AMAZING experience in the Redwood Forest in California. It was a wellness retreat organized by Adam and Vanessa Lambert, of Bee the Wellness. What surprised me the most about the retreat was that there were no presentations or lectures, per se. I don’t know what I expected exactly, but it certainly wasn’t that. As a fitness professional and health coach, I’ve been a on dozens of retreats and attended tons of conferences. But, from my experience, what is dubbed a “retreat” is often filled with tons of stuff: speakers, mixers, small groups, activities, etc. Yes, we do indeed retreat from our usual lives, but there’s hardly a chance to catch our breath in any kind of significant way.

 Casual connections...with no agenda

Casual connections...with no agenda

So, flashback to this retreat. It was radically different. Here was a typical day’s itinerary:

- breakfast

- activity (canoeing, swimming, hiking—something outdoors-y)

- lunch (often w/ live music in the background)

- free time all afternoon

- dinner

- live music or hanging out by the fire

 A serenade on the beach

A serenade on the beach

To put it mildly, I was shocked. A retreat with no one up front lecturing? No “five quick tips for a better life” or “three steps to weight loss?” Nope. No program. No dietary advice. No tips on mindfulness. After my initial shock subsided, it was replaced with a feeling of relief and freedom. It was a true retreat from all of the usual demands on my time and mind.  

I was given the gift of space & time to simply “be.” To think. To ponder. To contemplate the beauty of creation and its Creator. To consider my place in this world. To slow down. To read. To move. To chat. To dance. To sleep. To be nourished.

 Adam and Vanessa, being the wellness! 

Adam and Vanessa, being the wellness! 

It struck me as the days wore on that the “Bee the wellness” philosophy was actually allowing us to experience what it felt like to BE and to live WELL, rather than just talking to us about it. Indeed, it was far more powerful to live in this healthy, refreshing way, than to have an agenda filled with lectures or workshops. 

For me, the time away was a definite “reset.” I felt restored. I am often so busy; I needed to step off the treadmill and reacquaint myself with myself and with the love of God and those who have been placed on the planet beside me. And since that retreat in July, I have been marveling at its simplicity and beauty and, of course, wondering how I can replicate that lifestyle now that I’m back home.

So here is my plan to continually "retreat" even when I'm back home. I pretty much follow this little plan daily. If you find yourself busy, unsatisfied, hurried, harried, discouraged or disconnected, try this out with me. Here are three simple thoughts on how to find that rest and retreat, right where you are.

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1)   Get outside. The creation is healing. Getting outside gets us out of our head. It reminds us how big the world is and how small we are. Creation points our hearts, souls, and minds to consider our reason for being and Who is behind it all. As we reacquaint ourselves with nature, it sharpens our senses and sparks renewal and creativity. 

2)   Make space. We make time for meetings, calls, connections, and appointments. Let’s make space, also in our day, to just “be.” This can be a quiet time in the morning or space in the evening, after dinner or before bed. You can journal or read, but don’t even feel necessarily like you have to do or say something in particular. Just "being" is okay. 

3)   Unplug. We have more screen time in our days than we realize. It’s not just children or teens who have a unhealthy relationship with technology; we’re right there with them. And the more time we spend watching other people’s lives, the less time we are spending actually living our own. So power down, so you can power up your own energy and vibe.

I’m excited to say that I’ve been on this reset/retreat plan since I returned from the Redwoods and I am feeling more connected and grounded than ever—to the earth, the One who created it, to myself, and those around me. 

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Let me know if you decide to give it a try. Your body and spirit will thank you for getting outside, giving yourself the gift of time and space to just be, and unplugging from the virtual world. There’s a real world of wonder, joy, and rest waiting to be discovered. And you don’t have to go to the Redwood Forest to experience it. 

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Hilda Labrada Gore is a podcast professional who helps holistic health practitioners launch their own shows! She is the host and producer of the Wise Traditions podcast, sponsored by the Weston A. Price Foundation for wise traditions in food, farming, and the healing arts. She is an integrative nutrition health coach, a fitness professional, and the DC Metro Regional Director for Body & Soul Fitness. She lives in D.C. with her husband, Mitch, their children, and their cat and dog.