Can You Recommend a Retreat?
After 18 months of working and living on retreats, I find myself working in the paradise of Sri Lanka. The gift to experience retreats in Europe, Central America, Australia and Asia has been a perpetual journey of delving deeper into joy, discovering new ways to Be with people and ripping back layers of lessons. So, when people ask me for the best retreat I honestly cannot say as all have served me in vastly different ways. I thought I'd share how each has served me to give you a glimmer of what you might seek from a retreat.
Here is where I spent most of my time. I land in this country and I feel the magic of manifestation so fast. I have been to several places and experienced three amazing retreat centres. This is the country that I realised "I deserve to be happy all the time." I let go of 'earning' my happiness.
Peace Retreat in Playa Negra
This was my first three-week stint with my yoga teacher training. I got sick with flu and some stomach thing. It was physically frustrating as I was too ill to interact and make friends. I confronted my ego head on. I cried a full day at not being able to do a physical practice and my lack of control over my entire body.
Then I saw the birds in the trees. The quiet peacefulness crept towards me. I presented a talk on the yamas and niyamas to heal my 'workaholic addiction' and discovered I had to delve into spirituality to fully heal. Tough yet a fundamental shift, this was a retreat centre that really shows you what peace is. Only from peace can we accept ourselves and move towards the unconditional love of uncovering our true self and lessons to learn.
The Retreat by Diana Stobo
I cannot express how healing this centre is. On a crystal mountain with views of the Pacific sunsets every day are beyond exception. Diana's energy is infused throughout - a healing mother energy through food, movement, grace and nurturing treatments. Never asked about my past, I just was the person I was in that present moment. I appreciated this lack of labelling and judgment. I had space to just 'Be Me'.
I had time here between teaching yoga classes to read, rest and gather myself. The gym had a Pilates Chair and Swiss Ball for my personal workouts and practice to rebuild. I met inspiring people here with pure hearts who reflected my lessons at me with such huge love. I was nourished, filled up and shown some of my gifts - an 'intuitive energy healer'. The food was the best I have ever had!
This was time for me to write and teach. I love writing. It is how I process much of my experience, but I was being pushed to write in a specific voice and style, not of my own. Reassured by the team my confidence in my voice grew.
The remoteness of the jungle helped me confront aspects of my past: my house sale in the UK brought up letting go of my old life; my relationship with money and my self-worth began to bubble through. I delved into Reiki healing and tarot readings to guide me and build my intuition.
The animals here were key. Being so densely within the jungle to sleep with toads under my bed, wake to Howler monkey cries, practice yoga with the scarlet macaws flying around reminded me of the abundance in the world. That there is more than enough for us to all enjoy wealth and feel fulfilled. The Ganesh Temple was my preferred place to practice - I felt grounded and removed these obstacles as they came through my life.
In between Costa Rica trips, I spent 5 months on the West coast of Greece. A healthy holiday company and not a retreat, Healthy Options was a lighter experience for guests unless they sought a more spiritual experience. For me, this was a disciplined time back to teaching Pilates and massage therapy.
Greece has the energy of Greek Tragedies - things are a challenge before they come good. I felt this come back up - to suffer before the bliss again. It was a time to get to know my ego. I became highly disciplined in my routines, I placed strict boundaries around myself to nurture and grow. My energy healing began to fly in the massage rooms and my experience of reality shifted hugely as I embraced my gifts.
I saw some profound shifts - sad and happy - for others around me. Seasonal workers party hard and guests can let their hair down, as I did in 2012, but to find a deeper path needed to go further up the mountains and into the groves. We will be hosting a retreat up these hills in 2019! More to come!
Our first Omega Movement Wellbeing Retreat, Molly and I collaborated with the wonderful Floripa Kite and Surf House in Sicily. Received with so much love and support, we enjoyed moments of "how is this our job and business?!" It inspired us to book Nicaragua 2018 and Andalusia 2017, there was a powerful momentum.
Floripa had grown a great deal since I had visited it 3 years before as a guest. Now it had dedicated yoga shalas and daily classes, it was a fully fledged business of retreats. The high energy of the water sports lifted the venue and our retreat was relaxed yet connected to those outside our group beautifully. The balance of yoga, Pilates, fascia release and privates worked perfectly for our guests and laid the foundation of our Omega Movement wellbeing retreats for the future.
Before we had left Sicily we agreed on another Omega Movement retreat. A friend recommended Valle de Vida in Andalusia and it was perfect! We wanted a space with an indoor studio for cosy warmth at the end of October mornings, but a pool for the warmer parts of the day. This finca style venue nestled our group perfectly in the mountains. The container provided made a safe space for all the group to explore inwards on site and external space on hikes.
The weather is perfect for the early and later summer retreats in Europe. I always thought I needed to be at a retreat near water, but both Valle de Vida and The Retreat by Diana Stobo showed me that mountains are amazingly healing. Modern technology-driven lives leave us quite ungrounded and the mountains help us disconnect. The high energy of water activities can lift us up and clear stagnant energies, but it can also keep us moving too much. We loved hosting here so much we chose to do it again in May 2018!
I was lucky to discover the healing powers of Grace van Berkum after my stomach issues from Costa Rica. A detox life cleared a great deal of my physically. I struggled with fatigue, migraines and insomnia still here, but it became easier. Grace showed me tips from nutrition and allowed me space to rest between teaching and helping out around the property.
Her healing nature is disciplined 80% of the time - a great lesson for a perfectionist like me! The team was fun, like Grace. We laughed, were silly, danced and let our hair down. It was a fabulous mixture of light-hearted and deep learning about clean living. I left rejuvenated and holding more tools to my self-care routine.
I returned here a year later to bring my own clients for a retreat because it is so special to me. To fundamentally release and shift your energy requires a holistic view, Grace shows this with food and much much more.
An opportunity to teach in Panama arose last minute. It had never really been on my radar. When I arrived at Sansara Surf Yoga Resort I was blown away by the comfort. Panama has access to USA-style comforts that are much harder to find in other Central American countries. A balance of wellbeing over New Year's Eve is always entertaining to see. People seek the shift for a change, yet the old draws you back to former habits.
The surf lessons were impeccable and I loved the yogi lessons by surfers on the board. To be present yet anticipate 3 seconds ahead is a life lesson of balance on an ever-changing ride. We must use the tools around us with control and common-sense as a board on the water to not hurt yourself. There is a choice to take the wave or not, to know when to exit or stay. This is life and sometimes we forget that it is a ride that never repeats - all we repeat is our own mistakes to learn from and grow.
The perfect set up for surf camp, yoga retreat and wellbeing retreats Talalla Retreat is right on the beach in the jungle. Southern Sri Lanka is far more populated and built that I anticipated. You only have to travel 15 minutes in a tuk-tuk to get to an ATM - this is a much easier life than Central America! There is more of a mixture of seasonal workers, digital nomads and hippie travellers. It is clearly a place of transitions and settling for some. A mixture of spirituality and a modern life I notice the Asian culture is strong through the business of the country. It is relaxed, but not as much as Central America.
The retreats here are carefully curated and structured to welcome all levels of where the guests are at in life - to go deep or get fit. You can do it all here! It reflects the true abundance and paradise of Sri Lanka where everything is possible thanks to the deep Asian culture.
I uncover that I too am in transition. Ready to move on from my 'retreat life' and come out from the jungle. I love the tropics. Nature heals me. To brush my teeth with the frog, shower with monkies overhead and teach to a monitor lizard are all joys of the abundant life. Perhaps after 18 months I am sufficiently healed and ready to come back to a more modern life.
I love my own retreats of course! As Molly and I finalise 2018 through 2020 plans we look to Peru, Hawaii, Bali and more to add to the venues we work with. Do you have any you'd love to share with us?
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