I just returned from leading an amazing 5-day winter beach retreat here in Florida. Focused on creativity, sexuality, spirituality, relationships and abundance (all 2nd chakra issues), I came away with greater understanding and lasting changes that I am already seeing evidence of in my life.
I have been going on retreat for as long as I remember. Whether my innate independence caused me to seek new horizons of discovery or because my busy life prompted a need for solitude, I have always found retreat to be a precious and necessary act of self-preservation.
As usual, this most recent retreat at the gulf’s edge invited me into great awarenesses, changes and healing, too. My journey is too private to record here, but let it be said that one of more profound gifts I received as a result of this retreat was to make a deeper covenant with myself to be self referential, and therefore self reverential.
How often do we dismiss the tiny voice inside that whispers to us of taking a moment to stop and smell the roses? How often do we negate the longing inside for a blissful moment of sensory delight because “there are things to get done”? How long will we put ourselves off in the name of productivity? How frequently do we worry what others might think if we were to “selfishly” put ourselves first for a little while? What are the consequences of this consistent choice?
There have been times that I felt a yearning to go deeper, felt a calling like a small voice on the wind….in my hectic life, there have been moments when I felt a sane idea come over me that I needed to take care of myself. It is a wise inner voice which whispers this need to us, in hopes that we will listen.
As women, we know we are the world’s caretakers. We give and give, sometimes on automatic pilot, because it was what we were trained to do. And surely the world would fall apart of we didn’t. We are natural born nurturers, complete with hardware that ensures we will look after the welfare of others, even sometimes to our own detriment.
We have internalized this message to give so deeply that we will even give more of ourselves as a way to make ourselves feel better. Volunteer at a shelter or our child’s school. Be more available to our friends and family. Get more projects done. Maybe if we give a little more, we won’t feel that nagging tug in our souls, a longing to rest and restore.
Women must take care of themselves if we are to continue to love the world into beingness. If we give and give, going full throttle without finding a way to re-nourish ourselves, there will eventually be nothing left. It is a necessity, not a luxury, to be an alive, conscious, awake and free woman in this world to go on retreat sometimes for a change in perspective.
Nature has cycles of retreat, and so do we; however, we Homo Sapiens are the only known species that will choose to go against our instincts. There is a very long and ancient history of women retreating from their daily life in order to be alone, to rest and restore, and to be in community with other women. It is only in these modern times that we will relentlessly drive ourselves to do and be more, more, more, forgoing that quiet inner voice that begs us to stop. What is the price of this Great Ignoring? We become resentful, tired, joyless, even depressed. We are not our best selves to those we love. And what of our own creativity, health, relationships, all of those things that feed the soul of women from time immemorial?
Heeding the Call
Don’t mistake a need for retreat as a sign of weakness, just as recognizing when the gas tank is empty is not a sign of weakness either. It is a moment of clarity that we need a change in perspective to move forward in our lives. Perhaps we are facing a big decision; perhaps we don’t know what to do at all, and feel stuck. Perhaps we are just tired, and after giving and giving our whole lives, we just need to be tended to like a little child. Women should give themselves these gifts, and on a regular basis.
If we are to recognize ourselves as the precious gifts to the world that we are, then we must treat ourselves as such. We must treat ourselves with as much love and care as we would those we love.
Give yourself the gift of retreat. Listen to the call.