I had the absolute pleasure and honour of co-hosting my first residential retreat last weekend at the Inner Guidance Retreat Centre in Lavenham, Suffolk.   The Transformational Toolbox Luxury Detox Retreat was a 2-and-a-half-day sacred space for rest, relaxation, rejuvenation, reconnection, re-ordering, remembering, retreating and relinquishing.    Set in the stunning Suffolk countryside at a most prestigious former dwelling place of the Peace Movement, the Tudor House at Hill Farm was the ideal location for this most magical coming together to celebrate and nurture humanity and as it transpired womanhood.   Sharing the hosting with Kate Brewis of the Nurture Studio, Little Canfield and Jaclyn Dunne of the Mind Body Detox, Great Dunmow who brought and shared wisdom & knowledge of Kundalini Yoga and Nutrition, Health and Wellbeing alongside my offerings of Transformational Breath®, Yoga Nidra and Reiki Drum and life – the good bad and ugly collectively, this was a very special and important time for us all.   I was asked to join Kate and Jaclyn who had already made plans on co-hosting together; it was such a great prospect for me to come together with this perfect blend of practitioners and wisdom that I was delighted to make the pair a three.

I haven’t been on a retreat in this way; the times I have spent away from home which were connected to wellbeing have been as a result of me carrying out my trainings, which despite being set up in an educational forum, have provided me with immense opportunities for self-discovery and growth.    We just don’t usually stop long enough on the treadmill of life to take stock of how we are feeling – we keep running from engagement to engagement, work responsibility to personal and familial duty possibly squeezing in some social obligation which may be scattered with some more diverting aspects all the while ingesting our experiences whether they be good, bad or in-between without space to fully digest our experiences.   Being consumed in such unforgiving schedules, constantly bombarded with technologically driven interludes of emails, calls and social media updates it is a case of surviving the diary and manoeuvring through the alarming pace at which life seems to skip by as opposed to being fully engaged in living in a fully united human encounter.    Retreating to a gap in our lives seems on the face of it to be a rather indulgent and selfish idea, I however believe it to be entirely intrinsic to living who we are.

Kate, Jaclyn and myself held central as our ethos for the weekend providing a space and support for participants to collect themselves by just being; time to reassess and re-evaluate and consciously determine transformation of their existence, on their terms with the help of the tools we shared.    The programme amalgamated the best mind, body and spirit tools cocooned in shedding layers of unwanted patterns, behaviours and choices underpinned by an emphasis on relaxation and letting go.  Our agenda touched on the essential elements of caring for ourselves as human beings from the inside out – cherishing our bodies to make sure what we eat, put on our skin and expose our mind to is enabling, energising and positive, the way we move and utilise our life-giving breath empowers the freest flow of energies in our system to allow us to clear the blocks to its movement and in turn making way for our mental, spiritual and emotional navigation with ease in our daily experience.   There were early morning Kundalini yoga practices for opening the body and shaking and clearing the energies, morning talks on how to ‘Decrease Your Toxic Load’ and ‘The Sugar Fix’, mid-morning Transformational Breath® sessions to awaken the breathing apparatus and clear out mental emotional blockages, and evening deep relaxations – Yoga Nidra and Reiki Drum Journey to relax and rejuvenate the body and mind giving it space to integrate the work of the day.   In between the magic work time chef Dom produced the most amazing and delicious gluten, sugar, wheat, diary and meat free delights.   We were treated to smoothies, pizza and chips, phenomenal deserts (a sticky toffee pudding that I was so excited about it ended up on my chest before it made it to my mouth ha!) which all enhanced the level of detoxification that our group experienced as many were meat eaters and (as we learned during the ‘Sugar Fix’ workshop) having more sugar than the body was designed to process and as a result facing potential addiction.   Being able to eat in the way alongside all the practices provided a holistic sustained moment in time to be immersed in equally resetting every aspect of our group.

I had a wonderful experience; I was able to really connect with a group of brave, courageous, hardworking and dedicated women.   Women who had all come searching for something a little different, but all united in the aim of taking some time for themselves away from the hustle of life.   Women who were not really sure what to expect of the weekend, and were tentative and cautious to begin with; but with each passing meal time, practice and workshop the coatings started to peel away, the stories began to unravel and the insights and understandings emerged and blossomed.   The women who left us on Sunday afternoon had passed through a veil of their beings into more of who they were, into a more galvanised version of themselves, clearer, with greater understanding and permission for living on their terms, for themselves in their own way.  

This is the beauty of retreating, of committing a dedicated amount of time to being away from normal life, to allowing yourself to be immersed in self-love and care without compromise – giving yourself authority to be in the pace of doing what you need for yourself in place of what you always do – trying to be your best for everyone else, relegating you and your needs to the bottom of the pecking order.   The word selfish came up many times over the weekend – the feeling that we all have when we put the attention on our needs – that it is somehow wrong or indulgent.   Well darlings, we MUST indulge ourselves to make ourselves correct, and balanced and nourished and cared for so that we can meet others and our obligations and responsibilities in a meaningful and sustainable way.   The more we disregard and squash our wellbeing, needs, feelings, desires, growth and potential the more we stay where we are, hurting a little bit more, unfulfilled a little bit more, disconnected and lost just a little bit more.  That is not who you are darling, you are the fierceness, the fire in your belly, the inspiration, the childish playfulness and mischief that gets lost under the layers of adultness and it is perfect to want more of that, it is perfect to want to be in garrison with that version of you as part of your regular experience, not just a here and there outing when you have to dig deep to buck against a challenge, but just as part of who you are….

My joy was the talks after the work, the afternoon strolls, the chats around the dinner table, the late-night whispers, for it was in these moments, when some of the apprehensions were taking root that changes were really beginning to flow.   Our beautiful participants had begun to digest their new tools, and they were able to express their realisations after having some space to take the nutrition from the seeds of their experiences and connect them to their lives, emotions and realities and examine the impact on them.   It was so magical to observe and cradle the unfolding and be able to be there and give more if more was required, in whichever way that it was needed.   I was blessed and honoured beyond any prior comprehension, and I will always be grateful to my group of Viking warriors for entrusting me as a guardian on their most important voyage. <3