"Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished."
-Lao Tzu

Silent. Slow. Serene.

Three words that don’t typically describe any moment smack dab in the middle of the holiday season.

Earlier this month, I was fortunate enough to attend my third “Silent Mindfulness Retreat” with Red Lotus Yoga. I know, people think it sounds crazy. A WHOLE weekend disconnected from the outside world...No Talking. No Texting. No Internet.

How on EARTH is a 21st century American expected to survive?!

It’s funny how our society has adapted to the need of being constantly connected to the outside world. Whether it be in the form of face-to-face communication, or being glued to some sort of technological tether, it’s almost sad that we can hardly fathom the idea of being away from it all to spend some quality time with OURSELVES for a change.

Retreats are powerful because we are forced to step away from reality- technology, stress, rushing around – and tune in to our inner selves. In today’s world, especially during the holidays, we get lost in the commotion of external stimuli. We become so preoccupied with what’s going on “out there” that we overlook what is actually going on within... Losing sight of our needs, our desires, our emotions, etc.

I have gone on this retreat every December for the past three years... and every year, there are different events that lead up to the weekend. This past fall had a series of challenges that changed me both emotionally and physically. Between the loss of two of my grandparents in a short period of time, a sketchy recovery from my broken finger, and a handful of other things I have been working on… I have had a lot weighing on my mind and heart.

Needless to say, the opportunity to get away to reflect on it all and work through some of the emotions I have had around those issues sounded both amazing and terrifying at the same time…. And that is exactly why I had to go.

Slowing down, eliminating distractions, and just bring present are RARE and underrated gifts. My weekend in silence reinforced the importance of those things. I quickly realized that there is so much more to life than being overwhelmed. I do not have to be going a million miles per hour or rushing from one obligation to the next to feel fulfilled. Giving myself time to rest and reflect brought up a lot of shit I have been holding on to for quite some time. In doing this, I was able to get honest with myself, and come to some realizations about where I want my life to go.  

Now I know that Silent Retreats are not something we can conveniently find and fit into our crazy busy lives. But taking small mindfulness breaks throughout the day to “check in” with ourselves is easier than it seems.  I encourage you to set out 2-5 minutes (baby steps, start small) during your day where you can spend some time alone without distractions. Here are a few of my favorite quick and easy mindfulness practices:

  • Breathing exercises (new post of my favorites coming soon!)
  • Get some fresh air
  • Take a walk
  • Get out your journal
  • Turn off your cell phone
  • Listen to calming music
  • Take a social media break

Giving yourself time to reflect on how you are genuinely feeling can be extremely beneficial for your health. Please feel free to share some of your ideas on how you incorporate mindful breaks into your day.