This article on ‘5 things to know before a long-term yoga and meditation retreat’ is written by Claire Jones, sharing her experience at her 3 months long yoga and meditation retreat.
Read on to know about her experience and to know the ‘5 things’ before planning your next yoga and meditation retreat or course.
“When I set off to spend 3 months practicing yoga and meditation at my aunts cabin in rural Tennessee, all I could imagine was my internal clock re-setting, my energies re-aligning and my body detoxing from months of stressful work-life. I would have plenty of time to relax and focus on mindful self-reflection. I would be surrounded by breathe-taking scenery, eat clean, healthy foods and maybe even bond with some of the livestock I would be tending.
All of this happened…but many things that I DID NOT expect happened as well. While I learned so much about myself from being solitary, I also found that there were a few unexpected things I was extremely grateful for that made my journey amazing and could make yours amazing too!
If you are planning a long-term yoga and meditation retreat, here are some simple tips that might save you a bit of frustration and help you stay focused on your practice:
I somehow managed to break my finger opening a gate latch while I was caring for livestock on my retreat, and though I did not expect to have to seek medical attention while on my journey I ended up having to go to the hospital 2 hours away from the cabin. Thankfully, I had a vehicle and my injury was not serious, but if you are spending any amount of time on your own I would pre-designate an emergency contact, like a parent or best friend, who checks in periodically to make sure you are ok. This might not be physically possible sometimes, but even an email every few days is better than nothing. I actually arranged to have one of my aunts neighbors check in on me every weekend, and it was great to have human interaction and a little chat when she came over too.
Not watching television is great for your mindset, and can force you to spend time doing more productive activities. But you never realize how much time you spend on Netflix until you go without! At first, my nights seemed so incomplete without lulling myself to sleep with crime dramas, but books were a HUGE comfort and I actually liked reading more than television by the end of my two months. The only problem was I ran out of paper books and had to start using my Kindle. Be prepared and download way more books than you think you can possibly read; you’ll fly through them faster than you think! I would suggest this kickass Goodreads Top 100 Literary Novels of All Time list.
I am a huge advocate of the “everything in moderation” approach to mindful living. One of my goals for my retreat was to abstain from drinking. But, in the spirit of moderation, I packed a bottle of my favorite Merlot to treat myself to a triumphant glass of wine on a few days when I had great successes or breakthroughs. It was great to feel like I was pampering myself, appreciating my progress and rewarding my newfound peace. I think these tiny indulgences made my retreat feel really free; less like some strict, harsh exercise and more like a mental vacation that let me settle back into my own skin. For you, maybe chocolate, a movie or a visit from your boyfriend would be fulfilling, but find something that makes you happy and go for it a few times if you’re doing a long-term retreat!
I found that even though I explained my motivations to friends and family, many of them had a really hard time with me being off the grid for a few months. I had no cell service, so I reluctantly reconnected my aunt’s satellite internet for my time there so I could communicate via email.
I think if I hadn’t had internet (the connection was very limited so I could only send and receive emails and do very slow web searches) I would have ultimately been very distracted and always worrying about my parents, so I’m glad I opted for moderation instead of strict abstinence.
It actually let me focus that much more on my practice, and eased everyone’s mind. I found my short-term service on www.bestsatelliteproviders.com, but there are plenty of other awesome sites out there that can help you find good options for your situation.
But if you are planning to attend a yoga and meditation course in India, then look no further. Because at Nada Yoga School we want you to be connected with your loved ones. So, we have made wireless internet network available for the students attending the course. The only thing is to bring your own smartphone, tablet or a laptop.
I really wish I had written more about my experiences and feelings during my retreat so that I could look back on my journey and touch base back with these moments later. The diary I kept when in Tennessee isn’t nearly as full as it could have been, but when I feel challenged to stay balanced in my everyday life now, I sometimes refer back to those pages for strength and inspiration. No one knows you better than you, and you are most purely you when there are no distractions and you can just exist. Even if it’s just a few sentences a day about what you did and your observations about your experiences, it can be very therapeutic and help you be reflective during and after your retreat.
All in all, doing a yoga and meditation retreat really helped me to reconnect with myself and let go of the stress and anxiety that was weighing me down and zapping my energy. A long-term retreat isn’t for everyone, but if you are going to do one make sure you plan in advanced! I hope these tips will help you anticipate some challenges you might face, and further motivate you to live a centered, mindful life!“
So, this was Claire’s experience at her 3 months long retreat.
What are your recommendations for people planning for their retreat?
I would suggest taking just a few books that draw more into the retreat….and deepen your practices. One or two that have real depth is all that is needed.
Thank you for your suggestions, Sue. Looking forward to hear more from you! 🙂