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{February I’ll be posting a trilogy of blogs on connecting. Which is about self love and loving others. To get us all in the Valentine vibe.}

I am in the lobby of Andante Hotel where I have been on a self-organised retreat since Sunday evening January 26th. Today January 29th is my last day. At 2 pm it is back to business and I have 2 coach sessions planned.

Effectively 2.5 days away from distraction, away from temptation, away from daily worries. You know what I mean, responding to this, to that, let me just do a quick call, throw in some more laundry (when you work at home) …

Or the many obstructing, inhibiting thoughts that you have bullying you the whole day. Those annoying and gnawing dragons you are constantly fighting with. Not to mention the entire virtual world we cannot escape: social media. If you don’t show up on a regular basis you’ll be forgotten in no time. No longer follow worthy. The biggest distraction and temptation. And so we all do this dance of attracting and repulsing. 

 

Therefore a retreat

My retreat was primarily intended for writing. I walk around all day with stories in my head. Not just stories, insights, ideas, brainwaves, methodologies, etc. The whole day long. My husband (social worker) would put a label on it. Just for fun. He has many clients who, not unlike me, walk around with many stories in their heads. They have been labeled with a “DSM” code.

Words, sentences, rhythm, plots… Give me one word and I’ll give you a sentence. With arthritis in my neck and probably in other parts of my body, I cannot write as much as I would like to. Yet I do it whenever I can. Because what am I supposed to do with all these stories? I’m used to pain. And of course, I  have all my special coaching and storytelling clients, who are also my teachers, with whom I have inspiring sessions and workshops and hence more stories. The same clients experience how this story brain of mine works. When a friend told me that she had booked a writer’s retreat for herself and how much it had  brought her, I was sold. And now sitting her I already long for more.

What is a retreat?

I probably don’t have to explain it to you. They have been around for some time now.  Maybe you have participated in one? Yoga retreat, Goddess retreat, Silence retreat, Business retreat … There seems to be a retreat for everything. A friend of mine does a silent retreat every year with a group of women. What it all boils down to is you turning away from what’s going on outside of you, and paying attention to what is happening on the inside. Reconnecting to you. Being.

Did you know that a retreat was traditionally a war tactic? Fall back! Fall back! Lovers of war movies probably know this. The new movie 1917 is about retreating. Stand down! Withdrawing the army from the battlefield to regroup, reflect on a new strategy, on your goal, and then go back into battle with renewed courage and the will to be victorious. 

Today we are ordinary heroes in our own stories and battling daily with our inner dragons, monsters, demons … Consciously and subconsciously. To me a retreat is stepping off the battlefield, reconnecting with myself, liberating myself from must do’s, reflecting, and being victorious.

Slaying the dragons distracting me.  Because if life is like a story then you are the hero struggling daily to overcome something or the other. The biggest victory is conquering your own fears and insecurities. Those who do not fight this daily battle are those already spending their lives in retreats. Under a tree, in a temple. BUT, I wouldn’t be surprised if they too fall prey to dragons of their own making.

Retreat made simple

  • Simply journey back to you.
  • Reconnection, self-awareness and conscious living.
  • Small moments in your daily life.
  • Sit in silence on a couch, under a tree, meditate.
  • Or full-blown weekends, weeks, a month. Eat, pray, love scenes.
  • Alone or with others.
  • Organised by others or by yourself.

In my case, in silence, without distraction, doing what makes me very happy, writing. And, since writing is also part of my business, it was ultimately a writing & business retreat.

Where?

A place with endless views and, if possible, the sea. That became Scheveningen in Hotel Andante in a room on the 5th floor with a sea view.

My ration?

Easy-fitting clothes, warm socks, supplements, tea, healthy ingredients for salads, laptop, telephone, glasses, toothbrush, face cream, no makeup stuff, books that I have of course not read.

How did I spend my days?

Day 1: Started just after arrival at 1800 hours. Writing until 1 a.m..
Day 2: Started with a beach walk, shower, writing, fruit lunch, writing, coffee hunt with my laptop under my arm, 3 hours in an empty coffee tent with a sea view and of course writing, back to my room, eat salad, writing again until 1 a.m..
Day 3: Writing, fruit lunch, writing, showering, walking for 2 hours, drinking coffee, writing, salad, writing until 1 a.m..
Day 4: Finished at 1200 p.m.. A repeat from day 3 until lunch.

What did it bring me = what did I learn?

  1. The realization that a retreat is very simple and within reach.
  2. That in 2, 5 days I was able to write more than in a whole month.
  3. That I loved being fully connected with myself. A friend teasingly commented: are you secretly an introvert? And come to think of it: is an introvert, after all, more connected to himself than others are?
  4. Literally: 7 blogs, 1 short story (6 A4), The start of a short story, 5 lessons for a new online programme
  5. That I will do this more often. Alone or with like-minded.
  6. That I will try to go into retreat for at least 2 days every month. My mother has already offered to lock me up in one of her bedrooms, in fact she called it quarantine (funny woman!) Occasionally throwing food into the room.
  7. Many wabi sabi moments: enjoying stormy wind gushing through my hair, endless sea view, waves crashing into rusted poles, shells, sand, being free, creating.
What went wrong?

Scheduling two coach-sessions with clients on day 4. Don’t jump back into work! Leave your day empty to enjoy, stand still, stay connected and aware of this new world that you are in. Aware of your hero’s journey. Aware of your victory.

Maybe you can use my blueprint to design your own retreat? Just do it! I am not going to say how deserving you are because you already know that. Please let me know how it turned out. I would really like to know.

 Waheeda