It is no coincidence for me that tonight is a new moon. This lunar phase is a time to reflect back, and start anew. And it happens to be one year to the day since I touched down in Bali to take my self healing to the next level - on a seven day retreat with Mel Wells and 14 strangers.
I remember saying goodbye to my husband as I left and he said something to the effect of “I hope you get everything you need from this, but also just take whatever it gives.” Basically - don’t be upset if this isn’t a magic pill. And it wasn’t. Gasp! I can almost hear your judgement from here, but stay with me. I take this as a very profound and valuable thing. I describe it to my friends not as a week of earth-shattering transformation, but a deep, gentle, yet definite affirmation that the path I had started was worth continuing. Only now that path was lined with a cheer squad of Goddess Sisters to boot! And whilst I am a lover of theatre, drama, mind-blowing truth bombs, and personal awakenings, I am glad this is the way it panned out for me (and to be honest, the way I believe it does for all true explorations of the Self). Slow and steady. If it had been the magic pill then I wouldn’t have come to turn my self healing into self development, and now into the adventure it continues to be. So was it worth it? Of course it bloody was.
I started this work alone behind closed doors years earlier, and that had included reading Mels' book The Goddess Revolution. But by going to Bali I was “coming out”. I was declaring and sharing with strangers, bonding over common experiences, and releasing the dirty little secret of my disordered eating (read more about my path to here). Turns out it wasn’t so dirty, and not nearly so powerful once I voiced it and told its' story without fear of judgement. Having already read the book I wasn't learning the concepts for the first time, but the retreat allowed me to LIVE IT, and in that I stepped up the belief that yes, I actually was worth more than I’d been giving myself credit for.
There are three things from my time in Bali that I want to share with you, which have kept me on this adventure since that day one year ago.
Whoa the power of sisterhood. The forming of relationships from a common energetic wavelength and shared experience is phenomenal. There is an intimacy, a completely unfiltered human connection, and the creation of a space of safety and honour. This is part of the reason I became a coach. The holding of space is so priceless. And for me, as someone who played the comparison game with women far too much, to be part of a feminine collective sparked something in me that is still aflame and only glowing stronger. It has also helped me realign some of my relationships back home. So find your tribe and love them hard, as they say. We even left the retreat with a theme song that still plays on shuffle for me at the times I need it most (hello Universe, thanks for the sign!)
The ability to bounce back quicker
To live for seven days out of my own head, being open with all my highs, lows, inner bitch talk, limiting beliefs, anxiety inducing situations and epic moments of pure joy, it is hard not to realise what life you prefer living. This coupled with the time and freedom to explore ways to self soothe such as writing, yoga, talking, meditation, singing, swimming, dancing, drawing, eating, cooking, learning, being in nature, made for a pretty undeniable equation to take home. It is easy when life is going on around us to be impatient, to throw in the towel because it’s not “working fast enough” and to put up with the unhappy feelings - but having a taste of this stuff actually working, made returning to it from these moments of frustration much easier.
“Surrender control and give into trust”
Mel gave me this lesson on the second last day of retreat, and it is something that I have come back to countless times in the 12 months since. It has also been reflected back at me from books, affirmation cards, TED Talks and Instagram accounts. It acts as an anchor when I being to overthink and chase perfectionism, but also a reminder that this work is something you attend to forever. It didn’t “complete” or “end” in Bali, that was just a pit stop along the way.
What started as a broken down relationship with food and my body, has given way to so much more. Those physical manifestations were simply my gateway into this greater adventure of the Self. For you it may be illness, a break-up, redundancy, trauma, loss of a loved one...these are all entry points into exploring something far bigger than ourselves. From that gateway I have come to (and continue to), shine lights in caverns of past relationships, examine the winding roads of my feminine identity, paddle in the lake of spirituality (though I think I’m beginning to swim!), and dance through the forest of fun. Seriously, fun is fucking fun. Allow yourself to try it sometime.
Have you been on a retreat? I'd love to hear your experiences so leave me a comment below!