Bringing your retreat home

WHY DO WE RETREAT?  

We retreat to get away from it all and collect our energy that is otherwise spread out in multiple directions for inner growth. All the stress, noise, responsibilities and distractions of everyday life melt away and we are able to get back in touch with who we are and what is important to us. We use the fresh perspective that a new environment provides to reconnect with ourselves and find our flow. Sometimes we learn something new or understand a situation that has been troubling us. Sometimes we meet someone who inspires us. Most often we are simply reset and reinvigorated and return home hoping to keep this fresh perspective alive.

WHAT HAPPENS WHEN WE RETURN HOME?

We leave our retreat with clarity, an open heart and mind, and renewed energy.  We can’t help but want to bring these qualities home with us and perhaps share our experience with those we love. The first few hours and days back at home can be spent in a blissful state of possibility. We recite our mantras, we practice gratitude and we look at life through a retreat lens…for a while. Unfortunately, for most of us, this blissful state wanes too soon after we walk in the door of our normal life and over time, life as usual takes over. Our daily environment, work, stress, responsibilities, relationship pressures, old habits, well-worn routines and distractions of all sorts swallow up our best intentions to bring our retreat experience home.  

Wait a minute! The whole point of the retreat experience is to gain clarity and yet we somehow lose touch with this clarity as we move away from the experience?? Why do our best intentions to remain open and bring our retreat experience home so often fail?  While there are a variety of reasons we are challenged to cultivate our retreat experiences at home, I am going to highlight what I feel are the two most important and offer tips to integrate our retreat experience into our daily lives.

#1 Our home environment is not set up for success. What if we prepared to come home as much as we prepared for our journey? In order to bring our retreat experiences home, we need to start preparing before we ever pack our bags.

TIPS TO HELP BRING OUR RETREAT EXPERIENCE HOME BEFORE YOU  LEAVE:

  • Fix what is not working. Make a list of things in your environment that are broken and no longer working…the things that you are just putting up with like systems that are broken, relationships that need care or repair, piles of stuff waiting to be organized, actual broken things, etc. Pick 3-5 of these to eliminate or resolve before your retreat.
  • Stay healthy in your current environment. Start healthy routines and self-care before you go on your retreat. Just as we tend to eat poorly before starting a diet, we can let our health go in the days and weeks leading up to our retreat. Creating a strong and healthy foundation in your life before you retreat will support your changes when you return.
  • Slow down and pay attention. Become curious about your internal experience and take time for self-reflection. Cultivate a practice of getting in tune with yourself for a few moments each day.

#2 The retreat is only a small part of the clarity we seek.  Clarity is the culmination of all that is learned but not yet integrated. On retreat, without the backdrop of the daily routine of life, we are able to see themes and patterns of growth that were going on in small baby steps. These baby growth steps bring us to an “aha moment” or a moment of clarity when we can look back and understand all of the necessary steps that it took to get us here. Part of the problem is that we view the aha as a singular solitary moment when it is actually the culmination of everything that came before. The aha moment is, in essence, the “peak of critical knowledge.” Standing at the peak, we can see the progression of experiences that lead us here and the confusion that we lived in before the aha. We can also see what is not working and what we need to change in order to live the life we desire.

TIP TO HELP BRING OUR RETREAT EXPERIENCE HOME RIGHT BEFORE YOU  LEAVE:

  • Ground the experience in your body to take it with you! Yes, you need to find a way to physically take this experience with you. One way is to ground the experience in your belly center; your center of power and intuition. In Japanese martial arts this is the reservoir of vital energy as well as the center of gravity called the Hara. You can visualize the change you wish to make or the insight you gained living in this center of the body located in your abdomen just below your belly button.

TIPS TO HELP BRING OUR RETREAT EXPERIENCE HOME AFTER THE RETREAT:

  • Strengthen the clarity gained on retreat. These insights begin deep inside of you and feel that they have been around (however uncovered) for a long time. Take some time to amplify their meaning through mediation, journaling, or focused action.
  • Choose an activity that you enjoyed on the retreat to practice at least once a week at home. It is also fun to introduce your friends and family to these new activities!
  • Talk about what is going on inside of you with someone who is present and grounding. This will help you to relive and remember your retreat in detail and integrate the meaningful moments.

WHAT IF I NEED HELP?

I understand that none of these steps are easy. Integrating change requires us to overcome stabilizing forces and inhibitors within our everyday environment. The daily environment can easily swallow up our best efforts with work, family, friends, stress, pressures and responsibilities. Fortunately, I am here to help. If you have a recent aha moment that you would like to integrate at any stage, I would love to help you brainstorm ideas, create strategies or keep you on track to fully realize your aha vision.

Cultivating Executive Presence: What it is, Why you need it and 5 steps to get it!

I have a purposeful walk. I have heard this statement many times in my life and sometimes I reflect on how my walk is perceived as purposeful. My head is held high, my gait is quick and I am often not taking in all of my surroundings. I have somewhere to go and I am focused on getting there. People perceive that I am in alignment with my purpose to get there.

But what if my response to the statement was, “Really? I don’t have anywhere to be. I was just walking.” 

The observer who made the comment about my purposeful walk may feel uneasy.  My cavalier response may cause them to question my authenticity. Social science has taught us that when we meet someone, we almost instantaneously begin to create stories about them. We are experts at reading faces and stereotyping based on appearance. But we don’t often discuss that we are also perceiving how aligned someone is with their authentic self. If we meet someone dressed in a formal wear we assign them a certain amount of power and influence. Inside this person may be feeling insecure, tired, or otherwise off, but if they maintain eye contact and have a firm handshake, we buy into their power.

This is the foundation of executive presence.

When we are aligned with the image we project, we have presence that is experienced by another human being. I’m not sure how many of you watched Mad Men in it’s heyday..if you did, you know that Don Draper sets the gold standard for executive presence. He embodies power and influence even if he was not feeling it inside.

Now that we know what executive presence is, how do we cultivate it? 

5 tips to cultivate Executive Presence:

Read More

Accessing Passion is Tricky Business

Passion has been a buzzword in the field of coaching for a long time, yet very rarely does a client show up at my door brimming with passion, ready to put it into action. A direct question about passion is often met with a blank stare from my clients who struggle to find something, anything that lights them up.

Most of us feel overwhelmed when asked about our passion. We may also feel stuck, trapped or anxious. Our creative brain can literally freeze and shut down due to the complexity of the passion question. It just feels too big to answer. Moreover, most people think there is something wrong with them if they do not know what they are passionate about or what their purpose is.

So how do we turn our creative brain back on and find some possibilities for a passion-filled life? Here are four ways to start:

Read More

Unstuck

I know I’m stuck when I have no answer for the simple question, what’s going on?  My honest answer would be, not much and everything at the same time…I am exhausted and not getting anything done!  But to be more PC, I give a standard answer about the usual life stuff: work, kid, travel, house, etc.

Does this sound familiar?

Read More

Have You Met the New You? Updating Your Operating System for the New Year

A new operating system comes out and we rush to update our devices, but what about ourselves?  Are we integrating the newest version of us? This holiday season with all of the rushing around, try to take some time out to update yourself before jumping into a New Year.

Now, you may be one who waits to install the update until you see how it works for others or until the bugs are all worked out. Or maybe you feel you have always been doing something the same way and it is working out for you, like that old chocolate chip cookie recipe that makes everyone happy.  If this is sincerely the case, then keep on doing it the same way! But if you want to do something different or want a different result, you have to update your data to the new you. You have new life experience, new information, new preferences and even new values.  You may wish to work with new people or in a new environment.

Don’t bring the old you to a new situation. Update your operating system before the New Year!

Read More

Unplug

“Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes, including you.”  -Anne Lamott

Most of us need to make a conscious effort to take a break from technology as our electronic devices are just too addictive to put down. For me, the best break from technology is to be without a WiFi connection. This forced break brings my focus back to the present and allows me to be in touch with my inner self. I recently returned from a backpacking trip into the heart of the North Cascades National Park where I was without a WiFi and cellular connection for five days. At first, it was tough to let go of my desire  to be entertained, distracted and generally attached to my phone. My phone feels like an extension of me and when I cannot find it I can experience a mini panic attack. I was experiencing this panic-like feeling for about the first 24 hours of the trip and then something wonderful happened….I forgot about my phone and I began to interact in an authentic way with my surroundings.

Read More

Traveling to a new destination can grow your brain

On a recent plane trip, I read that 85% of US vacation travelers are inclined to visit the same place every year. Many of them stay in the same hotel and eat at the same restaurants. While repetition can create wonderful traditions for people, it can also lead to complacency and staleness.

Did you know you can evolve your brain simply by visiting a new destination?

Read More

Are You a Free Agent?

Are you tired of working hard for a company that lacks good leadership?

Are you disenchanted working for an organization that doesn’t share your values, but not quite ready to go it alone?  

I work with many people who are considering working for themselves to make work more fulfilling, but the solitary path is not an easy one and it is certainly not for everyone. For many workers who are feeling stuck, there is a growing movement called the Free Agent economy. Free agents are people who work in flexible environments and set up their own work rules.  They can operate within larger companies on a contract basis, or they can be self-employed. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, an estimated 40% of all U.S. workers now operate on a part-time or contract basis.

What exactly is a “free agent” and what is the advantage of being one?

Read More

Pitfalls to Avoid on the Road Back to Work

The road back to work for many of us can feel like entering the enchanted forest from the Wizard of Oz or the Fire Swamp for all you Princess Bride fans; scary, unknown and full of pitfalls. There are numerous places to get stuck along the path to purposeful work and I am happy to share a few that I have navigated.

Here are a few pitfalls to avoid:

 “I’m not sure what I want to do.” 

Many mothers have spent so much time serving others that theydo not know what they really want anymore. If you are unclear about what your purposeful work is, think about what inspires you. Feel free to dream outside the lines here.  What did you like to do as a child? How do you love to show up for people? Focus on what is important to you and activities that ignite your passion.

Read More
Page 1 of 212