We all know the feeling of being sucked into the tornado of chaos—ever-expanding to-do lists, activities, work demands, phone calls, traffic, and negative thought patterns. So how do we remove ourselves from it and access the peace we all have within ourselves?
For me, I’ve found that in order to touch this deep, inward place, I have to be in nature (preferably in the sunshine). Others say that a vacation or day at the spa can do the trick. And a lucky few say they can tap their inner divine in any calm and focused environment.
Recently I’d heard that spiritual retreats were rising in popularity, so when I was invited to the intimate Bodhi Wellness Retreat , I jumped on the opportunity. The theme of the weekend was “Re-awaken”—tapping into our inner spirit, eating raw foods, re-centering with calming mind-breathe activities, and re-grounding through the basics in nature.
Tucked away at Hidden Villa, a hostel in Northern California’s Los Altos Hills, ten of us (mostly twenty to forty-something free spirits from all over the U.S.) gathered along with Cara Barr, the naturally beautiful Retreat Founder and Leader. It was back to basics for sure—no television, no minibar, no alcohol, no fancy decorations. We socialized and ate in the main house, then later slipped off to sleep in our own individual cabins. The cool air and absence of traffic or noisy neighbors instantly put me to sleep.
A 6 a.m. we arose to prepare for the Yogic sunrise salutation at 6:31 a.m. I wasn’t chipper, but I wasn’t as groggy as I expected I’d be. The yoga instructor guided us through movements that stimulated our circulation and awoke our tight hamstrings and quads. I appreciated that he made us laugh a few times and kept the atmosphere light-hearted.
The rest of the day we had short but in-depth seminars taught by wellness specialists. I was wide-eyed and curious during the re-awaken to nature wilderness survival skills class, even though I had attended several mountain camps during my adolescence where I learned primitive skills. The enthusiastic expert leader, Cliff, taught us how to choose strong branches that we later carved to create fire-by-friction. He told us not to hurry our wood carving or focus too hard on the end result, but rather enjoy the moment and being in the outdoors. It made me reflect on all of the seemingly mundane activities (i.e. doing laundry) through which I could celebrate life by treating the process like ceremony.
The most interesting seminar in my opinion was led by Kimberly Morabito, a raw food chef and holistic health educator who informed us about the dangers of overly acidic foods. The breakfast she made us included a green smoothie made of vegetables and fruit, homemade granola, buckwheat oatmeal with almond milk (my favorite!), dehydrated nuts, and hot tea. She told us, “If you ate this type of breakfast everyday, you wouldn’t need to take any supplements.” No more need to gag on big, gross pills? Sounded great to me, but I couldn’t imagine converting to this type of food every day.
Maybe I could start re-awakening with baby steps … two or three times a week I could practice mindful meditation, appreciate being in the moment, and eat a few fresh raw foods (if my stomach would permit me).