Finding Your Sanctuary on the Eco-Retreat: My Journey to Co-Creating a New Offering.

Updated: Apr 26

When you're feeling the routine and pressures of city life is getting a bit overwhelming, a mindfulness and wellness retreat can offer the chance to rejuvenate your mind, body and soul. Whether it's quiet inner reflection in meditation, walking practice, gentle yoga, contemplating natural beauty in surrounding forrest, enjoying nourishing clean foods, observing an echidna or slowing down to the pace of nature itself- the retreat experience offers something for everyone.

For me an annual retreat gives me the chance to truly unwind my nervous system and lessen the feelings of busyness in everyday city life in a way you simply can't get without dedicating more time to mindfulness meditation. I also feel childlike with wonder after being in nature quietly enough to tune into all the little creatures that inhabit the wilderness. After each retreat my partner and I are always surprised at how we feel like we've been on a long holiday- despite it only being a few days. We always return to work feeling considerably slower, clear minded, relaxed in our bodies and more able to stay regulated day to day and this effect seems to last for sometime.

I've also found over the years that retreating annually gives me a chance to reset and connect more deeply with my values. The importance of doing this means I can begin to make my life more about the things that matter most to me instead of being driven by other peoples desires. This is because when you take some time to nurture and care for yourself you're not in your automatic reactive state and you're able to have the space within to respond to your life in a way that is wise and kind. You get a chance to observe and discover who you truly are.

I have found some retreat experiences to be more challenging than others. For example once I experienced a growing anxiety within and struggled to sleep at all the first night and I sat with anxiety for the first 12 hours of the retreat. I stayed with the mindfulness practice and really listened to the guidance and experimented with different ways of being with my anxiety (observing physical sensations, narratives around people involved, cultivating compassion for my condition) until I experienced a crescendo of extreme heat, intensity and tightness in my heart and body - this experience is sometimes called backdraft. As the intensity and heat peaked I felt a signifiant movement in my heart almost like it unlocked from the condition it was in and a feeling of it softening, melting and opening with the flow of emotions which released tears and I later settled in the most profound peace and connection I have ever experienced. I remember walking in the gardens after this with a silly smile on my face and feeling like the trees, birds and lake were the reflection of my soul.

Within you there is a stillness and a sanctuary you can retreat to and be yourself.

Other times retreat has just been a time for me to rest, sleep and nourish myself with the delicious food and peaceful walks connecting in nature. A chance to connect with other students and get special guidance for wise teachers on how to navigate my meditations on self, relationships and a reciprocal nature connection. Every retreat experience I have had has provided value and so much so I make it a regular annual part of my life as does my partner. We hope in the future to establish a property in rural Victoria wher we can offer retreat experiences to our community on a regular basis. The search for the right place is taking some time but we know when the stars align everything will fall into place. Offering a weekend eco-retreat to the community is the beginning of a long term pathway of stewardship, involving reconnecting with land and sustainable lifestyle and helping others heal their lost connection to nature and each other.

After 2020 being a year in lockdown and struggles with a global pandemic I am really looking forward to sharing a weekend retreat this spring in one of my favourite parts of Victoria the Otways. Starting with a weekend retreat, it's a chance for my clients and the community to connect with some of the themes I've been working on over the years in private practice. I've found when I am in the Otways I am embraced by nature and it really felt like the place to invite my community to discover their own sanctuary within and connect with others from that place.

With registrations now open if you feel inspired this might be a good chance for you to get away and give yourself some time and space for recovery and care with a like-minded community. Join the alpaca friends roaming around and quaint cottages dotted through a forested property in Pennyroyal. You'll be nourished by our special retreat cook with delicious vegan and vegetarian food and find a three day mindfulness immersion designed to transform your suffering and bring you more freedom and joy.