Retreats have long been equated with relief from the stress that is a part of daily life. Certainly, physically removing yourself from daily tasks and pressures can help a person relax and gain perspective. But beyond 'getting away from it all,' what motivates someone to seek out a spiritual nature retreat? It may be spending consecutive weeks at work. It may be a growing alarm that your priorities are out of whack. Perhaps you are going through a transition in your personal life or career. Whatever the motivation, sometimes you really need to hear the birds chirping, feel the wind in the trees. You need to feel the crunch of branches under your bare feet. You need to inhale the fragrance of the trees and the soil and feel the sun on your face.
So I was thrilled when Manasi Golechha, co-founder- The Spirit Temple invited me to attend 'Sound Of Silence Retreat' themed 'listening from your heart' — to experience the spiritual retreat and share my perspective with the five million+ readers of my publication. PS The Spirit Temple: a spiritual community and knowledge-sharing platform; it also offers brand consultancy to select spiritual initiatives that shares their vision. I knew right then it would be an experience. Until then, physically- mentally- digitally, I refused to stay still. When I wasn't completing assignments, I would be talking shop with potential advertisers on Linkedin or updating social media. My demanding career and equally hectic social life keeps me on my toes—and when I returned home—I was unable to 'disconnect'. So it raised a few eyebrows when I posted on social media that I would be attending a spiritual retreat at a nature resort in Vikramgad, Maharashtra. Wait—what really shocked everyone was my demeanour upon return… I was a changed person.
Once my flight landed in Mumbai at 7 a.m. and I met everyone attending the retreat at the pick-up point close to the airport, we boarded a luxury bus to Vikramgad on the outskirts of Mumbai. The attendees, from corporates, advertising, medical, housewives, hailed from Mumbai, Delhi, Bengaluru and Dubai. United by their deep belief in the retreat founder Kanchan RK Sharma. Once there, sleeping in a luxury treehouse treehouse in dense foliage, going for walks in the forest fringing a lake, meditation under the trees, connecting and bonding with others over bonfires and barbecues, drum circles and kayaking… was the agenda. Just self-love and self-nurturing. The retreat had taken me away from ringing phones, laptop and work pressure, which in turn, gave me an opportunity to reflect in solitude, on how I am living my life and if this is truly my heart's desire. Memorable moments that come to mind — when I hugged a tree, as part of an excersize of communicating with tree people, I was surprised at the tears that pricked my eyes and rolled down; the embrace had tapped into carefully concealed pain and brought scarring memories to the surface, and I wept, oblivious of my surroundings. It gave me courage to open up and talk about it with Kanchan and allow myself to let go of the pain; it also gave me the clarity I needed to 're-frame' my approach to the situation. This is just the tip of the iceberg; the sacred fire where all of us burnt a piece of paper of weaknesses we wanted to let go of and offer in its place what we wanted from life — and the drum circle to the sound of which we closed our eyes and meditated — was undeniably therapeutic. It went a long way in breaking past my reserved, guarded self to make me open up. That night, I surprised myself by sleeping soundly, without tablets that I take for insomnia. Today, it's a week I haven't taken tablets. Yes, it was the perfect place, with positive energy, to journey inwards to my deepest self. And heal.
Sounds inspiring? There was another life-changing incident at the retreat. I have been scared of water since childhood i.e. aqua-phobic. The fear of drowning has kept me away from waves lapping the beach and swimming pools. On our last day, my new friends took me to the pool and showed me how shallow it was. There was no way I could drown in four-foot water where I could stand. So I carefully made my way into the pool, holding the side tightly when in the water. The patience, the soothing way in which they helped me overcome my fear, and try swimming in the shallow waters, made me slowly trust them and I made an attempt. Pretty soon, I was playing pool volleyball and frolicking in the shallow end — and agreed to kayaking in the lake — which I had initially firmly refused due to my phobia of drowning!! Why did it work here and not for so many years? I chalk it down to the powerfully positive energy in the group and the willingness of every single person to help each other. You open up. you learn to trust. You heal.
So, these were my favourite moments at Aurora Retreats where there was something for every one. Literally. Some benefitted from guided meditations and cellular healing, others from angel card readings, still others from 'forest bathing' and 'tree hugging'. In the end, though, I learnt that every one of us needs inner rejuvenation. Whether you want to break new ground — spiritually speaking — or simply reclaim peace in the midst of a busy life, a good retreat is the perfect solution. I know I'll be back to allow the serene calm and bonding to rejuvenate and recharge my spiritual batteries.
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