Creating Balance Through Mindfulness

posted in: Mindfulness | 2

The topic of mindfulness is seemingly everywhere these days, and yet it’s sort of a vague term that is often misunderstood. So today, I want to go back to some basics.

Let’s get this out of the way first. What are mindfulness and meditation and how do they differ? Mindfulness is present moment awareness. It is intentionally paying attention to what is happening in the present moment with curiosity and without judgment. Meditation is a vehicle to get you there. So while mindfulness is a quality, meditation is a practice. As a mindfulness guide, I often share some of the most effective ways to cultivate mindfulness. At the top of my list is always meditation.

Being mindful in your everyday life is associated with many health benefits, both physical and mental. From reduced stress to better sleep, extensive studies have documented how mindfulness can improve your life. My own practice brings me patience and helps me to respond calmly and appropriately to stressful situations. I get to choose how I respond. And while this is not always the case (after all, I’m human), it’s true most of the time, and that’s a big difference from before I started a meditation practice.

I’ve had a regular meditation practice since 2013. I dove right in attending a 10-day retreat, which helped me to create the habit. And still for me, and from what I hear, for most seasoned meditators, the challenge is about staying with a daily practice or finding new ways to cultivate mindfulness.

For those of you new to meditation, committing to a regular meditation practice can be daunting. Where do you start? How can you create the meditation habit? Why is that even important?

By far, my favorite answer to all of these challenges is retreats. Retreats are an important part of your self-care routine and they definitely deepen your mindfulness practice. Up until 2020, I made sure to offer at least one, three-day retreat each year, and, after a four year absence, it’s time to bring them back.

When was the last time you spent a few days slowing down, taking a break from your everyday life of always going, always doing? A retreat is an opportunity to do just that, giving you time to put the stress of everyday life aside for a few days. It’s a chance to reconnect with yourself, to do the inside work, to deepen (or start) your meditation practice.

I love a retreat! I love going to retreats, I love leading retreats, I love planning retreats. In short, I love everything about them. Nothing beats the gathering of a group of like-minded people with intent and purpose.

So, I’m in the process of planning for my 2024 3-day women’s retreat, and I’ve found the perfect location on the perfect date. This year, I’ve selected a beautiful private home in a quiet setting (with a swimming pool!). The dates I’m especially excited about – June 21-23, 2024 coincides with the Summer Solstice and a Full Moon! That’s why I chose the theme “Celebrate the Seasons.”

As any experienced participant can tell you, there are many benefits to a retreat. And those benefits should not end when you go home, but should give you tools to take with you. If you’ve attended one of my retreats, you know we focus on nature, community, self-care, meditation and healthy eating. There always include workshops or activities to bring you new self-care and mindfulness tools, while also providing plenty of “down time.” It’s all about balance.

This year’s event will be extra special, with intention setting and rituals around the Solstice and full moon. The retreat grounds lend itself nicely to forest bathing, so a deep dive into nature is on the schedule.

There are still a few remaining spaces for the 2024 Retreat “Celebrating the Seasons” on June 21-23, 2024. For more information on the retreat and registration click here.

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