Solo Retreat: A getaway by yourself. Usually somewhere that is relaxing for you. Ready for one? (of course you are!). Let me show you why and how.
I often go on “Katie Retreats” (i.e. Solo Retreats) when I need to have uninterrupted time to go deep within myself. Oftentimes when I’m feeling overwhelmed, lost or unclear. They’re usually a night or two away by myself…something I’ve been doing since my 20’s. I spend the time drinking in the empty space that’s left when I have no responsibilities. No one to take care of. No list of tasks to complete.
It’s just me and my space.
Since I’ve had kids, it’s become even more vital that I take these retreats, as the constantly moving roller coaster of parenthood, marriage, work, family, pets, business and all-of-the-things can be wearing. And if I don’t get off the ride every now and again, I become resentful and empty, forgetting why I jumped onto this roller coaster in the first place.
Solo retreats don’t have to be luxurious or expensive. I can still recall the $69 hotel in the Florida Keys I escaped to in my late 20’s. And another Florida beach hotel whose parking lot became my home base as I relaxed at the beach, biked around the island, and slept in my car. I spent $50 on gas and food that weekend. Last year, I spent $75 to stay in a mini camper in the woods. As I became more sophisticated, I used credit card points to fund my weekends away and even let myself upgrade to the beachfront room. Thank you, American Express. 😚
Point being, I have always found a way to get away and be alone, no matter what my bank account looked like.
It’s not easy. There are always reasons why I shouldn’t go. Schedules to coordinate. Things I’ll be giving up in order to leave.
But I always choose to go.
Being By Myself Can Be Scary
Or at least, this is what I’ve heard from a lot of people when they finally admit to me why they’re hesitant to go on a Solo Retreat. Because if you allow the busy-ness of life to stop, if you allow the distractions to dissolve, and you’re left with just yourself and your thoughts…
What are you going to find?
You’ll find YOU.
“Alone time is when I distance myself from the voices of the world so I can hear my own.” Oprah Winfrey.
Me…I’ve always been introspective.
I’ve been journaling since I learned to write. Meditating since I was 19. And I thoroughly love the space for self-inquiry…which is exactly why I go on Solo Retreats. Because I want the space to look inside, to ask myself the big questions, to find clarity on all the things that have been making life hazy, to create the life I want to live.
And, to catch up on sleep. 😴
So, away I went this weekend to…you guessed it…a gorgeous Florida Beach, courtesy of my credit card points. 😉
What exactly do you do on a Solo Retreat?
I’d be lying if I told you that I just sit on the beach, sleep and watch movies. This ain’t that kind of retreat. No, I go on Solo Retreats for a purpose, and I want to make sure I use my time wisely. So, over the years, I’ve created a loose structure for my solo retreats that I’d love to share with you. I hope you find it handy on your Solo Retreat. Of course, take what works for you, ignore what doesn’t.
1. Take some time to settle into the space.
Check in, unload your stuff, and have a look around. Open the windows, go on a little walk or just sit on the couch in silence.
Turn off your phone or at least put it away somewhere. Far away from you.
And just breathe in the space.
Breathe in the silence.
Close your eyes, fill up your lungs with fresh air, and thank the universe for this moment right here. For the resources, people and circumstances that all clicked into place to make this possible from the moment you decided to go.
You decided to go.
What else could click into place if you just decided you wanted it?
(slow down, Katie…you’re not at the introspective journal prompts yet)
2. Ask yourself what you want to do. Listen. And do it.
Sometimes I feel like jumping right into my journal. Sometimes, I feel like taking a long nap. Sometimes I feel like sitting by the water or walking along the beach.
When I first arrived on this retreat, I felt like moving my body. So, I took one of the bikes at the resort and rode around the island. I rode around enjoying the sweat rolling down my face, feeling the strong muscles in my legs, until I heard the voice inside me say, “okay, I’m done.” Then, I headed back to the hotel.
How often do you actually ask yourself what you want? How often do you listen for an answer? How often do you actually do what you know you want to do? Not when everyone else is taken care of, but now?
This part sounds so simple and almost not worth mentioning, but it’s actually a powerful way to establish the self-loving culture of your Solo Retreat.
I am allowed to have desires.
I am worthy of listening to those desires.
I am worthy of taking action on my desires.
3. Set your intentions
Every one of my Solo Retreats begins with a few sentences scribbled out in my journal.
What are my intentions this weekend?
Starting here lets you be the one in charge of how you will spend your time and get clear on what outcomes you actually want for your time alone.
There are NO wrong answers here. Write whatever comes through you. And if that’s “relax, sleep and stare at the sky,” that’s completely fine.
This weekend, I wrote…
My intentions are to become clear about who I want to be in this phase of my life. To let go of and heal all that is holding me back. To lock my eyes on what I want. And to relax.
“Like seeds on the wind, our intentions spread far and wide, unfurling their power as they go until they find the environment balanced just right for our dreams to take root and begin to grow.” ~ Cristen Rodgers
4. Open your journal and write.
If writing’s not your thing, I still encourage you to write in a journal. However, you can absolutely enhance this step in other ways that feel better for you, like talking into the voice memo recorder on your phone, or drawing mind maps or anything on paper. The point of this step is that stuff will come out that you don’t even know is inside of you. It translates what’s inside into real, tangible words we can then see and hear and play with.
I typically journal by asking myself some questions and/or focusing on specific areas of my life. Here are a few of my favorite questions to ask and answer.
- Who do I want to be? How do I want to show up to my life?
- What are my values? What are the things that are most important to me?
- What do I want? What do I want to do? What do I want to be? What do I want to have?
- What do I want my life to look like in 1 year?
- What needs to heal inside of me that is holding me back from being my best self?
- What makes me happy? What brings me joy?
- How can I do more of that?
- What do I want my lifestyle to look like? How do I want my days/week/months to be structured?
- How can I make time for what I value the most?
- What can I let go of or say no to so I can make more room for what I love?
There are a gazillion questions you can ask yourself. And the more you do this, the more targeted and specialized your questions will become.
And then…write. Without editing.
Take a break.
And then write again.
This is not homework that needs to be completed before you leave, so don’t approach it with that kind of rigor. Approach it easily. With love. Let it flow. Listen to when you’re done. Listen for when you’re ready again. Sometimes I write for 5 minutes, sometimes for 3 hours while I’m sitting outside and watching Mother Nature. Sometimes I speak into my voice memo while I’m walking. Sometimes I let things percolate in my head for a bit, knowing their time to jump onto the paper will come soon.
Margarita overlooking the water
5. Consider taking action.
I say “consider” because sometimes retreats are not the time to take action on what you’re discovering for yourself. And that’s completely okay. But sometimes, what you find might hit you square between the eyes and the next thing you know you’re texting your friend to make it happen. And that’s fine too!
I’m writing this late into the night of my Solo Retreat. The result of my words staring back at me from my journal stating that I want to write as much as possible, in every way possible, so that my words can reach you and touch your soul in a way that is special and nourishing. Poetically in my meditations, storytelling here in these articles, and productively in journals you can hold.
So, here I am. Taking action. And it feels really good.
Obviously, I’m going to recommend meditation, right? 🙂
Meditation adds a nice pause to all that journaling and self-introspection you’re doing, and it allows you to just sit with yourself. Perhaps you want a guided meditation to help you along (here’s one that has a good combo of guidance and silence I think you’ll like), or maybe you feel like just closing your eyes while you’re sitting outside. However you choose to meditate, make time for it.
7. End with gratitude.
By the end of your retreat, you are most likely feeling rested, clear(er) and light(er). How about a little thanks for this feeling? For this time? For you making this happen?
My favorite way to consciously sit in gratitude is to be outside, surrounded by Mother Nature, so I can be reminded that I’m a part of her, that we’re all connected. But even a silent thanks as you’re driving home is just fine.
Gratitude brings the Solo Retreat full circle and anchors all that good into your cells.
Sunsets always fill me with gratitude. I saw this adorable couple talking and holding hands, just honoring the sunset. It was so sweet.
So…when are you going on your Solo Retreat? 😘
Inevitably, I always walk back into my life refreshed, renewed and fueled with everything I need to create the life I want after a Solo Retreat. I am a better mother, wife and friend.
I’m a better me.
And by now, I’m hoping I’ve convinced you that a Solo Retreat is exactly what you need sometime soon. 🙂 So, let me know where you’re going and your intentions. I’d love to hear.
PS: Really need some alone time, but can’t get away for a few days right now? Try a “Mini Solo Retreat,” aka a night out by yourself. Grab your journal and find a comfy seat at your favorite restaurant or coffee shop. Or even in your car, parked by the water…my personal favorite. 😉 I promise, it’ll breathe an enormous amount of life back into you!