In a world where the idea of “Advance! Advance! Advance!” is highly valued, it can be hard to justify the idea of retreat. In many scenarios, retreat means defeat. But this programming may no longer be serving us, and it is clearly not in service of our wholeness and living a balanced life. In our rapidly changing and tumultuous world, it is important to ask the question, “how can I recognize both masculine and feminine energies in myself and use them in a more balanced way?”
Part of the inspiration for our upcoming Yoga for Your Heart Bali retreat came from the lush Balinese land. We felt our own hearts melt as we gazed upon the beauty and asked ourselves, “what does Bali have to share with us?” We felt a strong presence of the Divine Feminine energy. Her voice, the voice of the Mother. This voice, that comes through both men and women, is a voice of nourishment, receptivity, listening, waiting, and reflecting. It is a voice of retreating. And not just because it's on your to-do list.
As a Type A, I grew up in a family where productivity was valued and rewarded. The masculine energy was valued over the feminine. (I grew up in a family of only women, so this had nothing do with gender.) Taking breaks or time to reflect was not valued. In fact, taking a break implied you were lazy, unproductive, weak and less than. I worked myself into the ground which took a toll on my health, my attitude, and my relationships. I knew there had to be another way to be in the world.
I started to ask myself, “what would happen if I did less?” News flash. The sun came up the next day. And by “retreating,” I gave others a chance to shine. Over the years, I became more fully committed to finding ways to lead with my Divine Feminine instead of only my Divine Masculine. I felt my heart soften. I felt my creativity increase. I felt the need to do, to fix, to change diminish. I started to re-prioritize my health, healing, and well-being, which fed every single area of my life. I began to feel a balance in my life.
I have never once regretted going on a retreat. Retreating is a conscious carving out of time to step off of your current hamster wheel and see the world of your life through a different lens. Retreats give us an opportunity to nourish ourselves physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. During a retreat, we give ourselves the time and opportunity to digest life lessons so that we can assimilate these “nutrients” and enhance or make changes in areas of our life that need nurturing, re-evaluation, or attention.
As we experience and embrace the softening that is more accessible during a retreat, we begin to organically build inner strength and confidence. We are less concerned with what others think of our choices and decisions. We “retreat” inward, listening to our own inner voice of truth. We begin to feel more comfortable with receptivity and listening. Divine Feminine. And there is huge power in listening without needing to immediately act on that information.
As we emerge from this receptive place of retreat, we are fully charged and focused. We don’t need to mindlessly spin our energy around showing others how hard we are working and thus, how deserving we are of accolades and attention. Instead, we efficiently choose where to put our energy. And at the end of the day, we have some leftover to enjoy a time of retreat, either by ourselves, with loved ones, in nature, or something else. “Retreat” is no longer a “crash and burn” response to constantly “advancing.” “Retreat” is now part of a balanced life. We can now move from a place of balance and choice as we understand both the Feminine and Masculine energies inside of us. We can both Advance and Retreat.