The first retreat I attended I didn’t know what I was going to encounter or feel. I remember doubting even when I had already paid and bought the train tickets to get there.
I didn’t tell anyone I was going to a retreat, to avoid the classic “what are you going to do there?”.
Looking back, I can identify the fear of the unknown, it was an experience out of my comfort zone ( the practice, the food, the people) .
Still, I was curious and had decided to go. Now days I can also recognize being guided by my gut feeling or intuition, but at the time I didn’t believe in this and could not see it.
During that retreat I remember having this A- Ah moment and a feeling of relaxation in my body and in my mind, where things around me started to get still. It felt right. At the end, I had this feeling of peace and joy.
Since then I’ve been in many retreats and always felt the same way.
Two years ago, when I was in a five day mindfulness self-compassion retreat, I felt for the first time the feeling of “this is what I want to do one day”.
By this time I had started to believe that gut feelings are always right.
When Ilse, one of the participants of our last retreat, told me at the end of our lasr retreat “I found myself again here”, I could totally understand what she was feeling.
It was also the confirmation that I am on the right path. Today my work is an extension of myself.
Let me go back again, when I started to go deeper in my practice, I started attending silent retreats and get involved in the more Buddhist approach where retreats are more strict and sometimes it felt, in some ways, exclusive instead of inclusive.
Me and Michel wanted a more contemporary approach, where people felt at ease.
We knew we had the perfect magical place and the perfect connection between mindfulness meditation, horse riding and Yoga.
A special experience that would allow to learn new skills to take home and feel empowered and confident beyond our 6 days together. A transformational experience.
One of the times that we went to the Pyrenees to arrange the details of the retreat, we were having lunch and Michel asked “can I have a glass of wine during the meals”, a big NO was my answer.
With the conversation I realized how nonsense it was to “forbid” wine during meals and we agreed on having wine at the table.
Michel next question was “and fun? Can I have fun during the retreat?”. We both started laughing, but I started thinking about what I really wanted for this retreat.
Was I building an authentic experience or just a model based retreat?
The answer came in a natural way based on our authenticity.
Having fun and a glass of wine during meals is part of our life and they would be a part of our retreats, people would have the freedom to choose if they want to have wine or not, a vegetarian menu or a meat menu, and they would not be judged by it.
Silence, restricted menus, perfect zen positions the entire time is not to be expected, because is not who we are. (read this post about the retreat "rules")
During our first retreat everything flowed, it felt natural. It was what was true to us. The balance between the meditation practice, horse riding and Yoga, and being a regular person.
My goal became clear: I wanted to teach people you can be a normal person and have a profound meditation practice.
Michel’s goal was also clear: to get people to know this special place in the heart of the Pyrenees, the horses and the people, to give back to the community.
On a day of the Disconnect to Reconnect Retreat in the Pyrenees, you’ll wake up and you’ll have a 30 minute led meditation to set the intention for the day.
Then a nice home madebreakfast and usually the morning is for the horse riding walks.
After we have lunch at a local restaurant, followed by free time for you to rest, read, go for a walk, lay on the garden or bathe on the river.
Around 4 o’clock we have a meditation practice and talk and we end the day with a nice Yin Yoga class for stretching.
Then there is a group dinner at a local restaurant and bed.
You’ll have the freedom and the time to do your own thing.
If, for whatever the reason, you don’t want to attend the morning practice or the horse riding in one day, or any other activity, it’s ok.
It’s all about balance.
And this gives us the space to really know everybody, to laugh, to create a safe environment and to learn in an organic way.
After the retreat is easier to start and maintain a meditation practice because you have learned how to do it and you did it for 6 days. You learn how to apply it in your daily life, because you start to apply it during the retreat. You see the connection. One thing that I really like is to take the practice out of context.
And this is what you can expect from our upcoming retreats.
Hopefully attending a retreat makes you feel good, we want you to carry that feeling with you.
The wisdom of the practice never changes, even if the outer form looks different.
Our next retreat in the Pyrenees is from 29 September to 4 October!
Will you join us?