Episode 67: The Magic Found in Slowing Down & Creating Space!

I knew creating space was important but I always underestimate how much so until I really have some!

At the end of August, I went on a last minute 5 days mindfulness retreat in Valencia, Spain. It felt like just the right thing at the right time. It was hosted by my friend Vicky O’Donoghue, who joined me on the BB podcast for episode #44 The Role of Self-Compassion in Mindfulness (click here to listen now!)

When I heard a space was available at the retreat I was super excited. But, then I have to admit, some apprehension and worries came to mind about this trip and I could have easily talked myself out of it! To ensure I went ahead with the trip I booked my flight as quickly as possible, the decision was then made. I was going!!

Here’s a quick insight into some of the things that were going through my mind at the time..

I was thinking would my class members and clients mind me being away? Who was going to look after the dog? Who am I to go on another holiday, I only went camping in August!? What if the food doesn’t agree with me? What if I don’t get along with the people there and feel left out?

Although, deep down I knew it would be full of lovely like minded people. I worried about the sleep arrangements and the bathrooms. I worried if I would feel out of sorts after the travelling and I was also due to be on my period, but deep down I knew Vicky would create a space to be exactly as I am in the moment. Anyway, I needn’t have worried about any of these things, because it all just worked out wonderfully and I had the best time!

Have you experienced travelling solo? If you haven't you should try it! What I love about going away by myself is that I feel the pressure is completely off. I feel I can practice asking myself, what do I want today? and then try it and see how it feels. There is less pressure to compromise and when people don’t really know you they have no pre-conceived expectations of you either. There is something about that which feels so freeing to me and I know some of the others of the retreat felt that way too!

The retreat had some structure with morning and evening mindfulness sessions, the sunrises at the beach were absolutely amazing and created a magical setting for our mindful practices guided by Vicky. During the daytime there were choices to go as a group or alone into the city, the port, a nature park (which we never actually made it to thanks to Sunday transport haha) and there were other activities available in the local area too such as bike tours and stand up paddle boarding should we have wished.

On the first night we had a gorgeous opening ceremony, whereby we had chance to begin tuning into what we need and start to set intentions for the retreat and beyond. There was subtle candle lighting and an opportunity to share and be seen and heard by others if we wished. It was a great start to set the tone for the next few days.

About 4 week prior to this I’d started to feel like I was at a cross roads in my life. I think this was sparked as I move closer to being 37 and making choices around having children, I had a lot going on in my mind that I needed to process about the direction of my life! So for me on the first 2 days I knew I needed some serious space. I needed to be by the water element, the sea, and feel grounded by the sand. I desperately wanted to slow the heck down, pause and have some time to reflect, have some great chats and gain some perspective.

I didn’t want to be taking in lots of extra information through my senses, at that moment it would have felt overwhelming. So whilst most other people on the retreat went out and about, I did as I wished and went to the beach. It just so happened that another retreat member also wanted to go to the beach and we had just the best days together! I have never spent so long at the beach, it was amazing to deeply connect and relax.

With the beach just a short sunny 5 minute walk away from our accommodation, it was so easy to head down there and enjoy the vast stretch of beach and sea which never seemed to have big change of tides, the sea was always there, always present in all it’s power and glory. I’ve been wanting to get more confident at swimming in the sea so again this break gave me the opportunity to face my fears and get in with the waves to have some fun! Even if I did almost lose my sunglasses!

One gorgeous evening whilst enjoying an evening mindfulness session with dinner on the beach a few of us decided to head to the sea under the night sky. This was totally out my comfort zone as I can feel quite creeped out in the dark, but it felt manageable after spending time in the sea in the daytime - small steps right! I was really proud of myself for taking a night time dip in the sea and I even decided to go topless helping to boost my body confidence too! It was so freeing and liberating!