It was something I’d always dreamt of but somehow never worked up the courage to do – to go off grid, into the woods for a week alone – to dive in and discover what’s true for me; not society, not my family, not my friends and not the ego-personality I’d developed over the years. To take time away from my busy life, contemplate and strategize for the big shifts I've committed to – transitioning fully into teaching, coaching and healing after 16+ years in the design, advertising and entrepreneurial space.
Although I played with versions of this idea in the past; backpacking through Italy alone and doing a work-away retreat in the woods with a friend, I had never committed to the true “Solo Retreat” until a couple of weeks ago. Being with a partner that encourages my freedom and growth, I knew now was the perfect time to move into it.
As soon as I arrived, I opened the sliding glass doors to the expansive forest below, the crescent moon dangling perfectly between the silhouetted trees. I could hear a song faintly playing in the distance, it was soft but I was able to make out the words “...today is where your book begins... the rest is still unwritten......” I felt goosebumps throughout my body and tears well up in my eyes as I knew the universe had placed me there in that perfect moment. Synchronicity has such a beautiful way of weaving itself into our lives if we are willing to really listen and pay attention.
It quickly turned from dusk to complete darkness and as I contemplated the distance of the nearest neighbor as well as the possibility of dark energies in the home, I began to feel a sense of complete vulnerability and loneliness; a feeling I hadn’t really experienced in my adult life. I was fascinated by it and reflected on the role of distraction in our lives to avoid feelings like this.
I blessed the home with a prayer and some sage, sent off a couple of final messages (my attempt to feel a sense of connection) and began to settle into the space I created for myself - away from my busy life.
First on my agenda was to run my Human Design chart. I’d heard from several people that it is the most accurate report you can run on yourself – combining astrology, the Hindu-Brahmin Chakra system (body graphing) and the ancient wisdom of the I’Ching. It is said that “the information in the chart can help us prioritize which internal voices and feelings to listen to.” Perfect timing ;)
I have to agree – this was by far one of the most insightful readings I’ve ever received. Something about experiencing it in this environment too, free from the opinions and expectations of others, made it even more profound and meaningful. I’ve since decided to add this as part of my coaching work (although you can run your chart for free / full report for $35). It helps people understand the polarizing aspects of their personality and origins of their deep, often confusing, inner conflicts. The beautiful thing is that both sides can be nourished by understanding this is who you are - there’s nothing wrong with either aspect, they just need to be held in a delicate balance to have true and lasting happiness.
The remaining days provided numerous displays of beauty and synchronicity as well as ample opportunities to address my fears, including a brief eye gazing experience with a wolf on one of my solo hikes. I'm beyond grateful for my instincts, the fact that I’m still alive and have decided to educate myself on survival tactics for wild animal encounters before I go wandering in the woods alone again. ;) Although I know the experience happened for a reason. Everything is by design. This was the perfect lesson to give me the perspective I needed to help me identify real vs imagined fears.
How to get the most out of your own Solo Retreat:
- Love yourself up
It’s an honor to receive time, attention and love from yourself, especially if you have a strong affirmation/self-love practice. If you find it uncomfortable, lonely or boring - ask yourself why… dive into that feeling. Find out what’s really going on and be honest with yourself. Then forgive anything you’re tempted to judge and give yourself what you’re truly wanting – your own approval and adoration, knowing that you’re perfect as you are – with all your light and all your darkness, perfectly human.
- Lean into your fear
Fear is a funny thing - we’ve all had experiences, to varying degrees, where we’ve seen fear literally dissolve before our eyes as we realize that the situation/event isn't as threatening as we’d imagined it to be... We realize that fear is a self-perpetuating energy as the old axiom suggests. And when we lean into our fears, an amazing thing happens - we uncover an underlying sense of freedom and vast energy resources to create anything we want in life.
- Create a loose schedule to follow
When you decide to carve out some QT for yourself, it's important to have an idea of where your time will be spent, otherwise the days can slip by without you knowing where they went. Be intentional and make time for the things that matter most. If it's yoga you love, guide yourself outside under a shady tree... If you love cooking, make sure that's part of your soul-nourishing program... Whatever you decide to spend your time on, make sure to include at least 2 meditations per day to help you get clarity on where your thoughts are, what you are truly wanting and what's standing in your way - there is no better prescription for clarity than meditation. Keep the schedule loose and allow for flow.
- Write, write, write
Keep a journal close to you and jot down ideas as they come in. Writing is one of the most effective ways of self-coaching, getting clarity and action planning. Ask yourself - "What did I come to this planet to create? What is all of this about for me? How do I want to serve the world? What are my unique gifts and talents?" If you're struggling with painful emotions, consider doing The Work (by Byron Katie) on your thoughts, asking yourself the following: Is it true? Can I absolutely know that it's true? How do I react when I think that thought? Who would I be without the thought? What if the opposite were even more true?
- Wake up early
Even though I’m not a morning person, this wasn’t really a vacation – I had a lot I wanted to do and create – so I thought to myself, “What’s required for me to actually fit in 2 hours of meditation and get everything else done?” The answer was obvious and one my ego didn’t want to hear, but I sucked it up and set the alarm 2 hours before I normally would (foregoing my usual 8 hours of sleep for meditation and productivity). It got easier each day and I was able to establish this new routine when I got home. YAY!
- Let it go
Try to avoid the desire to clean up unnecessarily or distract yourself with things that steal your precious energy. See how long you let things around you go while you commit to your self-care routines and self-discovery process. You'd be amazed how quickly you can straighten up after days of letting it be... This is especially important for people who tend to obsess over perfection or have "lazyness" programs running in their minds.
- Consider hiring a coach
If you feel at a loss for what you would do for a week alone, consider finding a coach or mentor who can help support you in this unfolding journey. Find someone who resonates with your energy and define the boundaries of how you want to be coached or supported.
If you’ve never left your busy life to venture into the depths of you, I would highly recommend making it a priority. Hop on Airbnb or pitch a tent in the desert or the forest and see what you can find... I think you’ll be surprised and amazed at the strength and beauty you find within yourself.
If you're looking for support or clarity on your ever-changing life path (self-discovery, relationships or business), I offer individual sessions or packages to help you navigate change and get more aligned to your soul's true purpose.
We're also hosting a workshop in San Diego the weekend of July 30/31 called Space to Create – Two full days of distraction-free creative time, centering and camping to bring your most important projects to life. Although it's not completely solo, you'll have plenty of time to contemplate alone and focus your energy. I'll be offering individual coaching sessions to help you if you get stuck while Josiah will be offering the best Thai massage around to help you relax and release.
Feel free to reach out if you have any questions! firstname.lastname@example.org