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TAKING A RETREAT AND CREATING YOUR BEST LIFE

What are you hoping for this year? What do you deeply desire? What changes do you want to make? What would make you feel accomplished and proud by the end of next year?

AND HERE’S THE BIG QUESTION: HOW WILL YOU MAKE THOSE CHANGES?

A new year is a time for evaluating your life and creating something new, but if you’re like most people, you may not know what you genuinely want. Maybe you're afraid to make a change, or perhaps you don’t know how to proceed or where to begin. According to U.S. News & World Report, 80% of New Year's resolutions fail by the second week of February. Why? Because people don't prepare for making changes or get the right support in making them.

The best thing any of us can do for ourselves is to intentionally take the time and space to create our lives. Most of us are so busy running around that we allow life to control us, instead of us controlling life. As a result, we end up feeling exhausted and depleted.

In that space, dreams never get fulfilled. You want to write a book, but another year passes. Or you dream of a different job, but you don’t take time to figure out your deeper purpose in order to make the right career move.

IN THE RUSHED NATURE OF LIFE, WE NEED TO PAUSE, REFLECT, AND BE INTENTIONAL.

That’s why so many people are choosing a new kind of vacation that changes their lives forever: retreats.

When I first decided to take a woman’s retreat years ago, I was both skeptical and excited. But as I walked onto the horse farm where the retreat was being held, I immediately felt the energy shift. The property was quiet, the sun gently shone through the budding trees, and the air felt light on my skin. Peace flooded my heart, and the ground seemed more solid with every step. I walked behind the stables into the woods and found 15 women of all ages gathered in a circle. Part of me wanted to jump in with both feet, and part of me wanted to run away. My heart beat faster. What the heck did I get myself into? I took a deep breath and pushed my shoulders back, just as I had done a million times before when I was scared and about to take a leap of faith. It was only for a weekend, I reasoned. If I hated it, I never had to go on a retreat again.

I was instantly hooked. We took a meditative walk and listened in the silence for our heart’s deepest desires. We bravely shared our fears of rejection and failure. Our leader, a brilliant therapist, coach and medicine woman, gently helped us declare a new path forward. We howled at the moon, laughed until we were in tears, and danced under the stars. I felt so free and so alive that I wanted more.

This experience changed my life and I discovered my purpose. Fifteen years and a Masters of Applied Positive Psychology degree later, I now take women on retreats all over the world because of how moved I was by my first retreat experience. The location and purpose of the retreats may change, but the feelings are the same: freedom, joy, peace, confidence and connection. And in this mix, lives are forever changed.

On my recent “Goddess Girls” retreat in Miami, Florida, one woman came knowing that her job no longer fit and just a week later she had the confidence to turn in her two weeks' notice. Another woman tragically lost her daughter a year prior and by the end of the retreat, she had hope for life again after coming to terms with her loss. After a prior Miami retreat, one woman came home and fulfilled her lifelong dream of owning an RV to travel the country, while another lost 40 pounds and created a new relationship with her husband.

A transformation like this is possible after a retreat because you are given space to pause and reflect. You’ve received guidance from a trained expert, and support from the other participants. In the loud, chaotic, busy-yet-mundane lives we live, we have to get away from the day-to-day to hear the truth of our hearts.

Research from positive psychology—the science of happiness and human flourishing—shows that people need connection, engagement, purpose, positivity, a sense of achievement and vitality to thrive. Retreats offer all of this. Retreats give us a safe space to remember our deepest desires and overcome our biggest fears. When we surround ourselves with people who believe in us, we begin to believe in ourselves.

As you think about your goals for the coming year, consider what kind of retreat would best suit you. For example, last year, I attended a retreat on sensuality to feel more confident in my body. A few years ago, I participated in a writing retreat so I could become a published writer.

There are retreats centered on purpose, writing, yoga, men’s issues, relationships, sexuality, sensuality, women’s wellness, horse therapy, nature, camping, glamping, happiness, mental health and empowerment. The key is to find a retreat that resonates with you. You can go on retreat at a yoga or meditation center, travel to a destination you’ve always dreamt of, seek out a retreat leader you admire or find a retreat that meets your specific goals.

This article was written by Carin Rockind, a leading happiness expert and the creator of PurposeGirl, a movement to empower purpose-driven living. For more information on Carin Rockind’s women’s retreats, visit PurposeGirl.com. To view her favorite yoga and meditation centers, check out Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health in the Berkshires and Esalen in Bug, Sir California.

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