If these cooler months here in New Zealand have you slowing down and feeling like hibernating then you’re not alone, and you are sensing exactly what your wondrous body and Spirit likely desires at this time. Think of the bear hibernating for the whole winter and it’s easy to recognise what our body might be craving: rest, quiet, solitude. Restoration.
But are you honouring this need in yourself?
Given how work is often ramping up for a lot of people at this time, and that it’s the week of winter solstice (it was early this morning in NZ), this is the perfect time to truly take stock of what you need right now – and make it happen.
Rather than being in a cave like a bear, I find I need a lot of sun in the winter in order to brave the season sanely, so it’s the time of the year I do the most sunbathing – especially since the typically harsh New Zealand sun is so much kinder in these winter months. My cat Bella and I have had some wonderful sun-naps in recent weeks! A nice way to ‘retreat’ even for half an hour in the afternoon (and yes, a very good reason to work from home!).
I thought I would share with you some of the other ways I retreat and replenish over the winter and some beautiful retreats and retreat centres to explore. Here goes…
Retreats and Retreat Centres
Mana Retreat Centre
Coromandel, New Zealand
Overlooking the Coromandel harbour and on what I would describe as sacred land, Mana Retreat Centre is a truly wonderful place to spend time. There is an abundant retreat schedule that runs throughout the year with many well-established practitioners offering programmes ranging from yoga, qigong, mindfulness and meditation to dance and singing weekends and more. You can also stay there on ‘solo retreat’ at certain times to simply rest and enjoy the beautiful nature. I’ve done this numerous times over the years and loved it every time. Enjoy the native bush, walks, a bush bath or a walk up to ‘The Sanctuary’, a small temple overlooking Manaia harbour. Mana Retreat Centre
Dharma Gai: Centre for Mindful Living
For an even quieter and gentler retreat experience, visit Dharma Gaia: on the same land as Mana, down the hill and nestled in its own quiet stillness. Dharma Gaia offers mindfulness retreats in the tradition of the late Zen Buddhist monk, Thich Naht Hanh. The practices are beautiful, the pace is slow, it’s a place you arrive at and immediately breathe out; you can’t help but slow down. Dharma Gaia
Te Wahi Ora Women’s Retreat
Piha, Auckland, New Zealand
A unique retreat run by women for women at Piha Beach, Te Wahi Ora provides meals and quiet space to rest, read, contemplate and replenish. They also host writing weekends and other special retreats at times. Te Wahi Ora
Waipapa near Pukeuti Forest, Bay of Islands, New Zealand
A more recent addition to the North and very special is Earth Village, created by world renowned author and educator Ilchi Lee of Body and Brain Yoga. Set in untouched native forest with special walkways, outdoor mediation spaces, spectacular forest views and a range of retreat opportunities, this is a very special place. Perhaps what makes Earth Village most special is the simplicity but depth of the teachings which I have personally found profound and life changing.
Earth Village is offering their Finding Your Trueself Retreat in Auckland this August, so if you’d like to get a taste of the teachings without travelling to the Bay of Islands, this is a great opportunity. Otherwise email the centre for dates of their next offerings at Earth Village and their Haruru Falls teaching venue. Earth Village
The Art of Rest
So what does it take to truly fill your tank? How does one rest in a way that literally brings more energy into the self on all levels? How do we replenish ourselves (or stop ourselves being drained) physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually? I’ve been contemplating these questions for many years and last year I went on a bit of a mission to understand what ‘rest’ actually means and how to do it.
In the process I came across a wonderful book by Dr Saundra Dalton-Smith called Sacred Rest. Drawing on some great insights from Sacred Rest and my own discoveries I explain in my article, The Art of Resting and the 7 Types of Rest, what rest is really about and how to do it on a very practical level.
I’m most passionate about sharing this wisdom because I for one have gone to so much effort over the years to fill my tank sufficiently, and with these insights you can do that more simply and effectively than you might otherwise have done. While resting our physical body is an obvious one (sleep, anyone?!) and what we might be most obsessed with, there’s a whole lot more to resting ourselves than getting a good night’s sleep.
I’ve included a whole bunch of resources to help you, so if you haven’t done so already, take a read and see what resonates for you right now.
Retreat at Home
One thing I like to do when I need to replenish but not have to pack a bag or travel is to have a retreat day at home, or even whole weekend. You can do this solo, or in cahoots with your spouse, the kids as well, or a good friend who would like to do it with you (independently or at one your homes).
It doesn’t take much to create a retreat-like environment, and it’s more about what you leave out and off – such as your devices, TV, housework and social engagements – than what you actually need to do to be retreating. What you actually need can be extremely simple (a quiet space and a cup of herbal tea!), or it can involve a number of mindful practices such as meditation, reading and walking meditation for example. Of course, it is really nice to have some candles out, fresh flowers in a vase and lovely music to listen to perhaps.
The key is to consider what you most want the day or weekend to do for you:
– What do you need from retreating?
– How would you like to feel at the end of your retreat time?
Answer these questions first and then let them guide you in terms of how you actually spend your retreat time. I offer a whole host of guidelines and suggestions over on the blog – How to Create a Retreat Day at Home – to help you create a retreat just the way you want it. I also include guided mediations and other goodies to support a beautiful retreat time.
To me, having retreat time is far more than slowing down and resting, although if that’s what you need most then it is PERFECT. It can also provide a space and container to come home to yourself, to know yourself more fully, and to inch closer and closer to allowing yourself to be who you really are.
It’s so easy to let life happen to you and be caught up in the constant fray of doing, striving, taking in more and more information, and continually trying to get ‘somewhere’. We can lose our self in all of that, forget who we are, or find ourselves screaming on the inside for some kind of let up from the demands of life, or the pressure of emotions building up but not being expressed. Stress, anyone?
It is only in stopping and Being that you can even breathe more fully for yourself, be there for yourself, hear yourself, and give yourself what you really need.
When you take this space and truly replenish, you gain more capacity for life. And in turn you gain true wisdom and inner knowing, inner peace, and the deep satisfaction of living more and more in the highest expression of who you really are.
If you can feel yourself being pulled towards more self awareness and growth right now you are not alone! There are incredible levels of change and growth in human consciousness going on and you might be hearing the call to do your own expanding. It’s getting hard to ignore to be honest!
If that’s you but you’re not quite sure what to do next, or if you know you’re ready now for a guide to shepherd you more fully into your true self, feel free to reach out for a life-expanding chat with me. I’d love to hear from you.
Here’s to who you truly are.