Over the weekend, I held my first retreat for women, Heart's Rest or The Power of Doing Nothing. Well, it's not true that we did 'nothing', but to our crazy minds bent on staying busy and productive at all costs, it may have looked like 'nothing'.
What it was, was rejuvenating, like drinking cool water from a deep well. Part of the pleasure was in stretching into our bodies, giving each other a light massage and doing some partner breathing - all of which slowed us down, brought us into the moment.
The other pleasureable aspect was sharing such fun and creativity with six other women. We danced, we moved, we played, we told our stories. We did some journal writing and collage to express "what we need right now" - I hope it was as much fun for the participants as it was for me. Especially to sit and talk in a circle about our needs, and about the need for balance, and try to discover what nurturing the feminine means.
One thing I want to provide with these mini-retreats is a safe space for women to explore their stuff, whatever that may be. I can see that the format and exercises will change each time, depending on the need or theme of the retreat. But underneath it all is the need for busy women to 'get away', for however short a period, and be alone, or be with other women who need to 'get away'. To acknowledge our need for leaving the house and family behind occasionally and filling our own cup.
When that cup is empty, we are at risk for burn-out, even if we are stay-at-home moms. I have felt close to that dry, arid, empty feeling that precedes the smell of smoke and actual burning out, and I don't want to go there.
I have also seen friends go through burn-out and seen how long it takes them to get their health, both physical and mental, back again. It's like a coiled wire that has lost its spring, no capacity to bounce back, no capacity to respond to normal stresses, always on crisis mode, always feeling overwhelmed.
So to prevent that 'frying' experience, what can we do? Simple things, but so hard to do. Like establishing boundaries - what my limits are, what I can do, and what I cannot do. Knowing when to say no. Knowing when the tired feeling comes and doesn't leave that I need more than a good night's rest. I need to get away, drop all my 'duties', and swim in the fresh waters of "doing nothing" so I can restore my imagination, pleasure in life, and creativity. I need a retreat.
Even if it's something small, treat yourself to a swing in a hammock, or run outside in the rain, do something fun and unexpected, drink your tea with your left hand if you're right handed, hang upside down from a monkey bar, swing, and pump your feet higher and higher, till you can see blue sky.
Let the world glimpse your girlish wildness, (see today's poem Trust, at http://www.wisdomforwomen.blogspot.com/)
and above all, listen in to your body's guidance,
have a great day,