Just over a week ago, I was in Tuscany. When I looked out of my open window, this is what I saw.
This is where I taught and practiced Yoga throughout the week.
Yes, life on La Dolce Vita retreat was pretty sweet. When I am leading a retreat, I am typically in a very beautiful location, and surrounded by lovely, mindful people. My day is free from the usual tasks and chores. I don’t have to commute. No one expects me to answer calls or emails. I can simply be, and focus just on the work at hand. In this case, that is teaching, holding space, and being available to help retreaters do the work they came to do.
If it looks and sounds idyllic, it really is. And we all need time to getaway, reconnect, unplug, and unwind. Retreats are a wonderful way to do that.
And then we come home. I love my home, my family, my work and, in general, my life. And yet it is often so hard to make that transition back into the “real world”. Previously I’ve blogged about how to make the return landing a little softer. Upon my return from Italy, however, I don’t want to just manage the transition, I want to bring the sweetness of the retreat into my everyday life. So I’ve been thinking about how to do that, and here are a few thoughts on the subject:
1. You don’t have to go on retreat to really enjoy life. When we leave home, our senses are open to new experiences, and we receive them with wonder and delight. Well, I live in Austin, Texas, and there is a lot here to delight me as well. The things I did this Saturday are things that tourists travel to Austin to do. So, rather than take our weekly walk at the lake for granted, I savored the sunrise and took in the natural beauty of the lake, the people-watching, and the art.
I spent a couple of hours on South Congress to do a little shopping, and slowed down a bit to enjoy this amazing area of town. My husband, Seth, and I jumped in line at Hopdoddy’s with all of the other tourists and day-drinkers, and enjoyed a beer and amazing veggie burger that we’d heard so much about. We weren’t just doing errands, even though Seth did get his glasses fixed at Warby Parker and I got some shoes to replace my old worn out Toms’s. Simply taking the time to allow myself to really enjoy the things I regularly do, I can turn a normal day into a mini-vacation.
2. Make your workday sweet. Okay, so that’s the weekend, but you may be asking, what about the workweek? Work can be sweet too! I do have a job that I am passionately driven to do, but I also work very hard and can get overwhelmed by my “to do” list just like everyone else. You can let your workweek renew you as well. Make sure you set an intention in the morning. On retreat, most people come with some intention—perhaps to be more present, to contemplate a shift in life, or to simply relax. With that intention, they move into each day with purpose and focus. Well, you can do that every day! When you wake up, determine how you want to move into the day, set it as an intention, and then honor it. If you have some tasks you are dreading, see how they look with through the lens of your intention. You can use your intention to put your day into a larger perspective, and to be sure that your activities are in harmony with the way you want to be in the world. If they are, celebrate that. And if not…well, begin contemplating how you will make some changes. Finally, don’t forget to take a moment or two during the workday for a meditation or practice-it can be a mini-retreat in itself!
3. You can connect deeply with people anytime. Retreaters tend to develop deep bonds with the others in the group. People of different ages, from different places, and with varying life perspectives, find that they truly enjoy each other, and they embrace their differences while finding common ground. There is an implicit openness and acceptance, and it feels safe and wonderful. In the real world, we have access to those same connections, we just don’t always give ourselves permission to be so open. What would happen if you connected with someone and let down your guard? What if you let go of judgement about the other person? Could you connect on a deeper level? Sure you could, anytime. It just takes a conscious effort.
4. Bring some sweet retreat treats home. Maybe you loved the early morning practice. Find one at a studio near you, or just roll out your mat at home and practice before breakfast. Maybe you enjoyed journaling on retreat—take 5 or 10 minutes in the morning and make that a habit. As for me, I’ve been experimenting re-creating the delicious food we had at the villa. I’ve sourced delicious olive oil and gelato. Used my fresh tomatoes and basil from my garden, and found “real” mozzerella, for a caprese salad to rival the one I had in Florence. I found that my local grocer imports a gelato from Italy. I am eating more slowly, and savoring my food, rather than rushing through meals to get to my next task.
There are plenty of ways to live the sweet life all the time. I even wrote a little poem about it.
Life is sweet on retreat, that’s for sure.
And when you return from retreat, that sweetness can endure.
Take what you learned during your week away
and apply it to your every day!
Let me know how you are enjoying La Dolce Vita everyday!