Busyness and productivity can be so captivating. I sometimes get deeply caught up in the story of my life, loosing my state of self-awareness. I get caught in survival mode when my mind gets fixated on controlling everything in an attempt to make sure life goes according to the plan. In those moments, it seems like I’ve jumped onto the “fast Alex train”. The train continues accelerating at a steady speed and doesn’t stop, yes I sleep and eat, though from the moment I open my eyes in the morning until I close them at night… I’m still on the same fast-moving train.
Even though I can still experience seemingly quiet moments of rest and alone time, my mind remains on the train. Sometimes it takes me weeks to notice that I’m even on the train. Even though I take time to rest, meditate or do yoga… my nervous system is still running at the same train speed and it doesn’t just slow down when I notice… our nervous systems take time to recalibrate.
This is usually when I get burnt out because my nervous system has been running at an unhealthy speed and slowly deteriorates my well-being.
This is why I retreat. Retreat in Latin means to “draw back”. I retreat to take a break from the hecticness of life. The world today is far more complex than when our grandparents were growing up. Most people have full-time jobs, a family to raise, loans to pay and an intense schedule of daily activities to keep up with. Responsibilities and commitments can take up all our attention. The mind can be very convincing to dissuade us to prioritise self-care. I know because my mind does this to me on a daily basis. By self-care, I mean taking time to nurture our wellbeing. Time to explore our inner landscape, time to question how one is really doing and feeling and nourish our body with healthy food and bodywork.
For me a retreat is like suddenly pulling the handbrake up while on that fast train. Normally on a retreat all distractions are taken away.. less time on our phones and social media, no TV series and even less chatting, since many retreats invite silence into the space.
Retreats, especially those that include time for silence, make possible the temporary quieting of the incessant inner chatter that Buddhists call the “monkey mind.” Often this can be the highest cause for our exhaustion at the end of a day… our non-stop thinking. When this array of distractions is taken away, one is finally able to focus on oneself, go within and reconnect.
This allows us to gain distance and perspective, this reflection often gives us clarity and direction. Besides that, when our mind is silent, all the subtle emotions that were hidden are allowed to surface, giving us an opportunity to tune in with ourselves and heal any unresolved wounds or trauma. Generally, this process allows us to enter back into the world as an integrated human being.
There are different ways to retreat, most people prefer a more structured setting where they can be supported by a facilitator and activities such as yoga, meditation and breathwork. Even just camping in nature can be tremendously helpful.. whatever you do take time for yourself to just be and reconnect!
I’ll be joining the upcoming retreat with Sanya on Gozo in November. 3.5 days to restore and temporarily leave behind daily distractions to allow deep relaxation and inner change to occur.
Below is more info on the programme of the retreat and what it entails.