In the business of daily life, finding time for balance can seem like a distant dream. This was the motivation for me running a short retreat at a beautiful retreat centre in Northern Portugal last week. The retreat centre, New Life Portugal, provides support for anyone who wishes to cultivate their sustainable wellbeing.
By facilitating this retreat, participants were able to take time out from their daily hustle. Together they reconnected to their deeper needs. They took the weekend to rebuild relationship to themselves, each other and to the beautiful nature that surrounded us in Portugal. Central to the retreat was a tool called the “medicine wheel”. This is a model of how we do life, based on wisdom that goes back many thousands of years. We used a combination of theoretical teaching, experiential practices including music, movement, stillness, sharing and journalling to support everyone’s learning.
The Essence of Balance
Balance in life is about harmony between our inner and outer worlds. It's a state where our actions, thoughts, and feelings are in alignment with our deeper values and purposes. Finding this equilibrium requires self-awareness and a conscious effort to tune into our personal needs and aspirations. It's about understanding that life is a blend of different aspects – creative ideation, putting ideas into action, stepping back and reflecting on our work, enjoying the fruits of our labour, admitting our need for support and letting support in, slowing down and coming back to stillness. Each of these stages needs attention if we are to truly live in balance. By finding this kind of balance in life we not only improve our wellbeing, but we also become much more successful, happy and creative.
The Role of Retreats
Retreats, like the one at New Life Portugal, offer a unique opportunity to step away from daily routines. They provide a space for reflection, relaxation, connection, and rejuvenation. Such retreats are not just vacations; they are transformative experiences that encourage us to delve deeper into our truth, and explore aspects of our lives that need attention. What would you like to focus on if you took time our for a retreat in 2024?
Connecting with Nature
One of the most profound aspects of the New Life Portugal retreat was our emphasis on connecting with nature. Nature has a calming, grounding effect on the human spirit. It reminds us of the natural rhythms of life and the importance of syncing with these rhythms to find balance. Being in nature, away from the noise and distractions of urban environments, can be incredibly healing and restorative. And nature goes beyond that. The qualities of each element of nature can support our personal journey of self-awareness and growth.
The Medicine Wheel: A Tool for Balance
A central tool used in the retreat was a medicine wheel, drawing on indigenous teachings from North America, West Africa, and Europe. This symbolic tool, or map, represents the circle of life and the interconnectedness of all things. It helps individuals understand their place in the world and the balance needed between different elements of life. By reflecting on the medicine wheel, participants gained insights into maintaining harmony in their lives. By taking time our to be in nature with these reflections, there was an extra depth of experience added alongside the theory.
Building Relationship to Self
Central to finding balance is the relationship we have with ourselves. Often, we neglect self-care and self-love in our pursuit of external goals. Retreats encourage building a stronger, more compassionate relationship with oneself. They offer the chance to confront personal challenges, heal old wounds, and set intentions for a more aligned, purposeful life.
Taking time out for retreats and connecting with nature isn't just a luxury; it's a necessity for those of us seeking balance in our hectic lives. It's about giving ourselves permission to pause, reflect, and realign. In a world that constantly demands our attention and energy, remembering to reconnect with ourselves and nature is perhaps the most profound act of self-care and balance we can perform.