I recently returned from leading a Yoga retreat in Costa Rica. Long, relaxed days of waking up with the sun, enjoying delicious meals made for us with food from the biodynamic farm at our retreat center, and extended, deep practices in the open-air studio surrounded by the rainforest. Free time in the afternoon to reflect and journal, walk and explore, and hang out by the pool with new and old friends. Connecting with the earth, with our fellow travelers, and with ourselves. NOT connected to technology every waking minute. As one of the leaders of the retreat, I got to observe the shifts that the participants experienced, and to watch each retreater shine in her own way.
By the end of the week I could literally see the changes, as each person looked lighter and stronger and radiated a newfound freedom from some of the things that had held them back in the past.
Then we returned home. We were challenged by flight delays and power outages. We had to go back to work. We regained 24/7 access to air-conditioning and our cell phones. We returned to our partners, friends, children, bosses and schedules. I heard from many retreaters that they were holding tightly to what they experienced on the retreat, feeling softer, calmer and more focused. When retreaters returned to my regular Yoga classes, I noticed the “retreat effect”—stronger practices, but also an indescribable lightness and power. I heard from others that they road back was bumpy, challenging, and that there had been some “melt-downs”. I experienced my own melt-down a few days after returning—complete exhaustion and lack of motivation. I gave myself a few days, and then a few more. After a nourishing long walk around the lake with a friend, I began to return to myself.
Retreat are awesome, but they can’t last forever (sigh!). However, with a little bit of thought we can ease ourselves back into life and keep building on the effects of the retreat…at least until the next retreat comes along!
Here are a few things you can do to help ease yourself back to reality following a retreat:
Even in the “real world” you can maintain the retreat effects with a bit of mindfulness. Pause, take a deep breath and take your new perspective into your days. And, of course, there’s always the next retreat!