3 Simple Ways to Make Your Life Like a Retreat
Two weeks ago I hosted 8 women at my little home in the redwoods for my first women's retreat with my dear friend Maria (photos below!)
Over the weekend we lit candles, drank tea, cooked healthy nourishing food, hiked to waterfall, made mandalas out of flowers and leaves, adorned ourselves with jewels and lipstick and beautiful clothing, watched the sunset on top of a mountain overlooking the ocean, shared wisdom, meditated, sang songs, listened and danced to amazing music and laughed a lot.
We all emerged feeling radiant -- and ready to dive back into our lives. As we thought about how to maintain this sense of serenity and connection in our daily lives, three practices emerged that I would love to share with you.
1. Create a Morning Routine
I've never been much of a morning person by nature. Throughout my life I've often slept as long as I could, rolled out of bed, did the bare minimum to look presentable and get out the door. Something shifted about 5 years ago when I started a regular morning pranayama (yogic breathing) and meditation practice. Then, my friend Liana introduced me to a Ayurvedic practice called abiyanga (massaging warm oil on the skin), in which you really take time to honor your body.
Now, my morning routines includes things like: warm water with lemon, yoga, run, pranayama, meditation, morning pages (journaling), gratitude, tea or smoothie, setting to-do list/planning 3 goals for the day and getting dressed. I don't do it all every morning, but I'll take anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours (if I'm lucky!) to nourish my system.
When I don't do this, I feel drained and reactive; when I make the time, I feel present, productive, and generous with myself. And, as a consequence, I’m able to show up for others in my life – my partner, my friends, my clients and the 4 year olds I teach art, to in a different way.
Invitation: Take 15 minutes to craft your ideal morning. What would a 20 minute practice look like every day? An hour? Now, take a moment to consider all the barriers that may keep you from making it happen and for each, identify a way to make the step easier. It's hard to get out of bed because it's cold? Put a big warm sweater and wool socks next to you. Don't know where to meditate? Build a small altar in your room with a pillow and candle. Wanna go for a run? Put your shoes by the door. You get it : )
2. Make Your Space Sacred
During our retreat, we held another session around creating beauty in our lives by looking to our senses and mama nature. We paired up and took 10 minutes to make a mandala in silence only using materials in the woods. In such a small amount of time we were all so blown away at the incredible beauty that was created from such simple materials. It asked us to be resourceful and creative. For me taking a few minutes to make my space beautiful is essential to my day. I keep my space clean, light a candle, place crystals around, play great music etc, It's about honoring a moment, an experience, a place and imbuing space with your loving awareness.
Invitation: Consider your space – your bedroom, apartment, house, office, your car – and think about how your can take just a few minutes every day to make it feel special. Possibly it's putting a little effort into making it more tidy, lighting a candle, bringing home fresh flowers when you can, adding some art to your walls, and possibly building an altar (it can be as simple as a milk crate turned over with a scarf on top) where you place items that are meaningful to you – creating sacredness or a sense of beauty. When we create spaces that feel sacred, it reminds us that WE are sacred and this transforms the way we feel and the way we live our lives.
(photos are of the mandalas we build -- it doesn't take much!)
3. Surround Yourself With Like-Minded Women
There are times when I've felt isolated from having a sense of sisterhood. Looking back, I can tell it was an expression of some uncertainty about what I valued and thought was possible! I realized that for many years the women I found myself spending time with were based on the fact that we all liked to go out and drink, or were lost or depressed in some way.
That has shifted tremendously in the past 5 years for me. I feel so blessed to have such a deep and powerful bond with a community of women based in trust and love, that supports and uplifts me emotionally, creatively and spiritually. Not that we all don't have our dark days, or don't like to play and get wild sometimes, but it's not soaked in self-loathing and victimhood in the same way that it use to be.
I believe when women come together with love and intention, it's alchemy. We heal and grow so deeply and is so clear that we are more powerful together than we are alone. Being with your sisters intentionally means creating sacred space where everyone is welcomed, accepted, loved and honored for their beauty and uniqueness. Allowing there to be play and vulnerability and trust.
As we continue to rise up in expressing fully and giving our gifts to the world from our most authentic place, I believe it is crucial that we join hands and support each other. It's the only way this world can restore harmony on this planet.
Invitation: Think of 3 friends who you connect deeply to – where when you are together you feel uplifted – and invite them to your house (possibly on a full or new moon?) to connect with each other and connect with the natural world. Make that date sometime in the next week!
If you feel like you don't have these women in your life, feel free to join one of our events in the Bay Area. The next workshop is this Saturday December 6 from 10am-5pm. More details here.