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Retreat to refresh: 5 getaway ideas that are geared to help you to refocus

Updated: May 11, 2018

The case for choosing an immersive wellness experience for your next holiday


Sometimes we may feel like we are stuck in our lives. We know that it's time to leave a situation, make change or we may want to grow, but not know exactly how, or where we are headed, or if the outcome will be positive. We struggle, and our pain and unhappiness persist with our resistance.  Albert Einstein cleverly stated, "We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them." Instead, we must revolutionize our thinking and modify our habitual patterns to revitalize our lives. To end the cycle and see the big picture we must first gain perspective.


In this era, life transitions seem to be mirroring the evolution and speed of technology. We are no longer waking up to a midlife crisis, we are facing the millennial mid-20 "Where do I belong in this world?", the mid-30, "Do I want marriage and children?", the mid-40 "Divorce, single-life or remarriage?" and the 50's Renaissance. We have realized that our binges and benders can only numb the surface of our circumstances until we decide that we really need to wake up, make new decisions and create lasting change. We have been afforded with this opportunity, to be able to seek what we want, be ambitious and have choices but the irony is that choice can cause confusion and indecision.


Stepping out to step back into your life fully could be a way to establish clarity, reconnect to yourself and help you decide how to make the next best move.


If you need peace of mind or want to transform your life, perhaps the usual vacation may not create the lasting changes you hope for. So, try a getaway that develops new character and pushes the envelope on the comfort zone to expand the mental spheres of possibility and inspire change that comes from within. Inspiration, coaching, and immersion retreats are an excellent option to help you shift perspective, set goals and plan the right action to move in a new direction. Taking time for sanctuary also allows you to get out of your headspace and into a different daily routine. Plus, a new frame of mind can incite the feeling of freedom and a safe space to think, feel and reflect. Once you experience this renewal, you can integrate your thoughts and ideas into daily patterns that establish and maintain the change that you want. Here are five getaway options to help you feel rejuvenated, motivated, confident and ready for the new life chapter that awaits.


Detox and rejuvenation retreats

Spring and Fall are transitional seasons that can spur the want for change, growth and transition but first we must clear the pieces we don't need in order to make room for what is coming. The principle is simple, if our minds and bodies are full of thoughts and old habits, where is the room for growth? Detox retreats help to revitalize our immunity, cleanse our thoughts, improve our digestion (brain-gut health) and assist in emotional emptying.

Detox retreats gradually omit solid food from your diet and opt for juicing, cleansing massages, herbal supplements, and detox teas, so be prepared to sustain a mild fast. A good retreat center should also offer several detox procedures that can be custom designed for you. While detoxing, it's important to leave behind items and technology that pull you back into your unwanted yesterdays. Try not to check emails or think about how to fix your life. Stay present and simply follow the detox protocols given. Plant the seed in your mind for change. The ideas will come. Be with yourself and notice what comes up.


Sometimes when detoxing we can feel irritable, "hangry" or experience emotions that we don't understand. Let yourself feel without having to attach meaning to everything. When your detox is done, take space to rejuvenate and reintegrate foods in a slow and natural way. Try not to shock your system with beer, burgers, soda and fried food. Ease back into your daily regimen.


A detox retreat should have clinical staff to ensure that you are practicing a safe and effective protocol designed for you. If you have low blood sugar concerns or high toxicity levels in the body, let them know. A red flag is a centre claiming that detoxification is good for everyone at any time. Put on your thinking cap and ask about their protocols and side-effects thoroughly before you decide to participate.


Vipassana retreats

Sometimes it's better to say nothing at all. We tend to focus on talking things over, thinking and rethinking. Vipassana means to see things as they really are. These retreats are completely silent and are not for the faint hearted. Rather, this ancient practice has been used internationally to awaken self-compassion, shift perspective, resolve emotional residue and mental obstacles. If you are new to Vipassana, a ten-day stint is required for your first go. Be prepared to leave your digital world aside while you step into the practice of non-speaking. Computers and cell phones are not permitted, and you will be asked to leave them locked away. Ashram-style food and minimalist sleep quarters are provided to keep the mind focused on simplicity — there won't be any fancy foods, spa treatments or beaches here.


The first five days may be difficult and test your mental strength while you sit for long hours in silence and face the thoughts that surface. However, you will be guided into the practice of observing the breath and sitting in silent meditation, so there are on-site helpers if needed. Vipassana retreats are free or by donation and usually have a long wait-list, so if you are thinking of signing up, plan ahead. You will be asked to fill out an online form as part of the application process.


Vipassana may not be recommended if you have a clinical mental illness. Speak to the Vipassana Center regarding any concerns prior to booking your silent retreat. For more information, visit: www.dhamma.org.


Yoga, meditation and farm-to-table retreats

Clean eating, sunrise meditation, and a daily yoga practice can help nurture a deeper connection to yourself and foster mental clarity. Studies show that yoga and meditation, "promote recovery from and treatment of addiction, reduce stress, anxiety, depression, and chronic pain, and enhance overall well-being and quality of life." Findings also conclude that, "While modern medicine has the ability in many cases to heal physical diseases and alleviate psychological disorders, it is argued that a purely medical approach is far less effective in healing the emotional, intellectual, and personality layers of the human entity. The discipline of yoga offers individuals a timeless and holistic model of health and healing and although it may not result in the complete elimination of physical diseases and/ or adverse conditions from the body it offers a holistic path of healing."


Whether it's a weekend getaway, a 7-day stretch or a longer immersion, you can find many options available to experience transformation through the lens of health and wellness. A typical day consists of waking up to a guided morning meditation and yoga practice with the option to set an intention. Nourishing culinary delights are served with hands-on education about positive lifestyle habits including organic cooking classes and foraging, plus options for outdoor experiences including horseback riding, forest walks and nature excursions.


Eco adventures

If you love wilderness and adventure, this is a first-rate option for nature immersion including portaging, kayaking, caving, mountain biking and hiking. Research indicates that the "connection to nature is an important construct for many aspects of human well-being, such as life satisfaction, vitality, and happiness. Connection to nature also has a role in human health as it helps meet the challenges of stress as well as providing resilience."


Eco adventures are held in remote locations, where you can become one with the open sky and land. Guided tours vary, so if you are looking to self-reflect, it's best not to get too distracted with activities and leave some down time for rest and repose. Options include healthy eats, campfire cookouts, silent walks, stargazing and more. Eco adventures aim to diminish the carbon footprint and protect the planet by using less water, waste and energy consumption. Retreats are held in specific eco accommodations that are environmentally sound.


Creative getaways

Focused concentration can still the mind and expand ideas into creative form. Whether it is a writing workshop, daily journaling, mandala painting, dance immersion, gardening or sound healing, the possibilities are rich. Clinical studies have found that "arts engagement promotes recovery, relaxation and reduces stress, anxiety and depression. Arts programs for people experiencing mental ill-health have also been linked with improved confidence, self-esteem and self-understanding."


Creative guided experiences explore themes of life, healing and expression. It gives us a doorway to open up our ideas, feel comfortable with them and stimulates the confidence to achieve them. Here, the body and mind work together, and the emotion is the vehicle for the expression you may crave. Creative retreats start from day retreats and can run into intensive experiences for up to 6-months. However long you need, there are plenty of options.


Nicole Mahabir is the Founder and Director of JAI Wellness, a platform for health education, mindful living and wellbeing. For the past 10 years, Nicole has lead professional certified programs, teaching Nutrition, Meditation, Ayurveda, Yoga Therapy and Natural Anti-Ageing Beauty Regimes. When she isn't teaching, Nicole creates integrated, sustainable health protocols for her busy clients and leads corporate and wellness retreats. Follow Nicole on Instagram @jaiwellness or on her website, jaiwellness.com.

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©JAI YOGA & AYURVEDA 2018