This last weekend, I went on a yoga retreat.
It had been over a decade since I last went on a retreat. I booked it back in March and I had been looking forward to it all year, just like my kids are currently looking forward to Christmas.
A whole weekend on my own.
No responding to “Mum!” every five minutes. No negotiating time off. No responsibilities. Time to sleep.
In short, it was going to be unadulterated bliss.
You can never escape the contradiction of parenthood
When the day actually arrived, I was full of conflicted feelings.
I was excited to be heading off, yet feeling guilty for leaving my children (and husband to the chaos of the weekend).
I was luxuriating in the independence of keeping my own time, but a bit lost without the organising that kept the balls of my life in the air.
I was happy to be heading off to do something I loved, but there was still a tug of sadness at leaving my small family behind.
And yes. I was aware that this was only going to be for one weekend.
When you’re not accustomed to rest, it doesn’t always come easy
The catch 22 of a retreat is that you long for it because your normal life doesn’t allow any time to stop, but when you finally do get to stop, everything unravels.
One mum of three under four (her youngest is nine months) arrived, and promptly got a cough and a blocked nose.
I almost had a panic attack on day two because I had a few hours to fill, and no idea what to do. Well. That’s not entirely true. I slept. But it felt so totally alien that I spent fifteen minutes shallow-gasping on my lovely double bed.
Life makes sense to me when I have numerous things to do. I have things to plan and places to be. There’s a certain momentum to everyday life, even if I don’t have a sense of the final destination.
To hear more about how to find some peace as a parent listen to this story on Kinderling Conversation:
Retreats aren’t for the faint-hearted
On my way to the retreat, I realised that I was heading towards a weekend that would require some effort on my part.
It wasn’t going to be full of massages, pedicures and just lying around (though there was some time to lie about - see above).
This retreat had a purpose. There would be challenging yoga poses, meditation, reflection and silence.
Being alone with yourself – without those who normally define you (your family and friends) isn’t always easy. Especially when you’re used to filling up your every waking hour with noise.
Retreating means to back away from the world, and sometimes we all need a bit of that
I went through my mini-freak out, and made it to the other side.
And on the other side there was time to reflect, to connect with like-minded people, and to get some much-needed perspective on my life.
While on our silent bush walk, I started to think about the meaning of the word ‘retreat’. I wondered whether we all need time to retreat from the onslaught of the modern world.
Don’t get me wrong. I love my iPhone, Netflix and café latte done just right. The rush of life is exciting and exhilarating. But maybe we’re not built to just barrel through it without time to stop for contemplation.
Maybe we all need our own pockets of retreat. A way to wall ourselves off from the noise of modern life.
Some time to stand above the chaos of it all, and see what means the most in our lives.
For my part, by the time I came home I couldn’t wait to hold my children, and tell my husband how much I loved him.
Which I didn’t get the opportunity to do, as both kids immediately went into tandem meltdowns, and I was sent to make dinner while they all chilled out on the lounge.
Still. It was a start. One which I intend to follow through, finding my own little pockets of peace.
How about you, do you find pockets of peace in your every day?
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