Overcoming the pains of returning from Retreat.
I woke up this morning, not to the sound of monkeys and the light of sunrise, but to the glow of the television and the saddened tones of newscasters discussing the most recent mishandling of our democracy.
I woke up this morning, and instead of sitting atop the roof of a beautiful Italian/ Costa Rican hostess, I began, with haste, to brush, wash, gather, dress, and run- as I always do.
What the fuck!
How do you spend 15 days of your life creating rituals and daily practices with ease and then get back to “life” and they fall away before your tan even has a chance to fade?
For years I have been teaching yoga on retreat in and out of the US. I have been among the Red Rocks of Sedona, on the beaches of Costa Rica, deep in the jungle of Belize and even in New England in a lush meadow and myself, fellow teachers and retreat goers always have the same dilemma- How do I keep the energy of retreat space in my day to day life?
Here are some tricks I have learned over the years.
- Let yourself off the hook! A topic of discussion these days among yogis is the difference between being a householder and a renunciate. We, being householders, have responsibility, family, love, stress, lists- so many freaking lists- and while we read The Gita and The Sutras and chant OM from the top of our lungs, it is often hard to dive in the way you want to because you have so many things on the surface to dig through. One of my favorite yoga teachers, Yoganand says, “we are not skinny little men living in caves”. But on retreat- OH ON RETREAT- you ARE the skinny little man in a cave. You have someone making your bed, preparing your healthy food, telling you where to go and what to do and you need not worry about a thing. Of course you are relaxed, of course you had fun, of course you had breakthroughs and tears and joy; the walls of responsibility came crumbling down and it was one less layer (or many, many less layers) to get through. So, upon your return, when all those tasks and relationships return with reckless abandon (because how dare you take time for yourself), it can be pretty tough to stay in your Zen Chill Retreat Zone. Be kind to yourself and know it is bound to happen. You are OK.
- Add one thing. Take one thing- JUST ONE, and add it to your daily routine. What resonated most for you? Was it morning meditation? Daily yoga practice? Taking walks? Rising early? Spending time with like-minded people? Taking adventurous risk? Figure out, for you, what really hit home and add that one thing, slowly, into your daily routine. Meditate just 3-5 minutes in the morning before work, rise 15 minutes earlier than usual, vow to get to yoga 3 times a week- You know what you need; now do it! And when that one thing becomes a habit, maybe you add another. Maybe you don’t. It’s all good.
- Let any feeling of guilt wash away. When you get home from retreat, or travel of any kind, it is easy to settle into feelings of guilt. Spending money, caring for your body and your mind, leaving behind your family or your job can feel wrong and uncomfortable. Just because society might make you feel like it is wrong, does not make it so. The best thing you can do for you and for everyone around you is to be your best. So when you get the “It must be nice…” comment, you respond with “It sure IS- you should try it!”.
- Go crazy and plan your next one. Hell, why not?!?!
I am not delusional, and know that not every person has the ability to go on retreat. We are in the vast minority, the lucky few, who get to care for ourselves in this way- BUT- you need not get on an airplane- There are local retreats all the time, pitch a tent in your backyard, have a spa day (you can do one at home with your friends), take a trip alone to a local beach, turn off your damn phone, go for a hike- you can retreat when you need and I beg you to- as often as you can.
Get out there and LIVE. It is fun!
*If you need help budgeting for such things, contact me.
By: Jessica Proulx
Jessica Proulx is the owner/director of The OM Center is Watertown, CT and the director of The OM Center Yoga Teacher School. She leads retreats both in her home state of Connecticut as well as across the US and Abroad. You can find her upcoming retreats here: http://noplacelikeomcenter.com/om-retreats/