I’M A BIG FAN OF THE “REREAT LYYYYFE” (sung like Randy Crawford). I’ve made an annual retreat pilgrimage for the last 4 years of my life; each one bringing a totally new and unique experience. I wanted to write a blog post on the True Colours Retreat I went on last summer because it was one of the most difficult weeks of my life albeit the most illuminating. That’s what inspired to write about IRL retreat life. It’s not all sunshine and smoothies, although yes there is a lot of that. My latest Retreat was more about sitting with the uncomfortable truths we’d rather ignore and continue to let play us instead of facing them head on so we can move on and be our best selves.
Retreats come in all shapes and sizes, no 2 are the same and no 2 people will get the same experience from the same retreat. We are all just individual people, a sum of our life experiences, looking at the same things through different coloured lenses. So to caveat I’d like to say that if you also choose to go on this retreat, or any other, your experience will be totally unique to you.
It’s true to say that people often turn to the idea of going “on retreat” when they are at a point in their lives when they “need” something. Whether that is a break physically or emotionally from real life, a fresh start, looking for change, or they have a personal challenge they want to give space or thought to. Retreats are magical spaces where the outside world doesn’t exist. It truly is a bubble of love and most people when they arrive instantly become better versions of themselves the minute they step through the door. It’s almost like you can’t help yourself.
I met Louise; a lovely, softly-spoken Scottish lady with healing hands many moons ago in Ibiza. A few years later she invited me to her newly launched True Colours Retreat advertised as a space and an opportunity to nurture yourself into the best version of you, whilst discovering your true purpose in life. A version of yourself that is peaceful and centred. Through daily workshops, meditation and yoga you will be guided on path of self-love, which is something that I and most people I meet struggle with. This retreat promised to be the most introspective adventure I’d ever done. I thought I was ready.
So how does loving yourself more help you move closer towards being the most fulfilled and happy version of yourself? When I think about the ways in which anxiety manifests itself it is often through a fear of rejection and abandonment. This in turn comes from a lack of self love. Through years of counselling, retreats and self-work I’ve gotten quite good at understanding who I am and why I feel the way I do, but I still feel quite a way off from truly accepting who I am, my fears and my insecurities. I am hoping True Colours Retreat will set me on a path of deeper acceptance and eventually a life without the noise of negativity that often holds me back in life, love and work.
I hope also to make peace with the idea that I am entitled to receive back what I put out. That I can whole heartedly accept and bask in the devotion of my partner, the kindness of my friends and not fear that by accepting it, it will be taken away and I end up abandoned. This fear has driven me to be incredibly self-sufficient in all areas of my life with the exception of loving myself with the same vigour & passion I have when approaching other things. Essentially I’d like to invert these two things so self-love comes first and healthy self sufficiency and happiness follow.
The retreat I went on back in 2018 (read here) is when my self-healing journey began. A year on, even though my awareness of self love and living truthfully has increased ten-fold, I still struggle to put this into daily practise and my journey of self love often feels like it’s still in its infancy. It is common to measure our successes in life by our outward accomplishments, however as I grow in wealth and status in my work there is a disparity between those material successes and the ones I feel deep, deep down in my soul. The flourishing bank balance and social media following often doesn’t match up with the deficits in our hearts as minds.
Everyone that comes to the retreat is encouraged to keep a diary so I am going to share some excerpts from my writings to give you an idea of what sort of work happens at a retreat as introspective as True Colours.
From My Retreat Diary
Day 1: I have arrived at the Villa and settled into my room. I’ve come from a 3 day party trip in Barcelona with the girls so I am feeling a little sensitised aka hungover. We all meet at the Yoga Platform for an informal welcome and intro. On opening night at True Colours Retreat in Ibiza we are told, “The only thing the earth asks of us is to be alive,” very much setting the tone for the week ahead. Getting to a retreat is the biggest hurdle. Once you’ve walked through the door you have the most amazing opportunity to better your life.
Today we started with rooting and grounding. Louise encouraged us to think about our intentions for the week and my mind searched for answer I did not yet have. Why am I here? What do I want to take away from this experience? On opening night I still am not sure.
There will be lots of Yoga during the stay, which excites me. It took a few years of practise but Yoga is truly medicinal practise for me now, where as before it was only exercise. Louise advises us to rethink Yoga as not what the mind wants but what the body needs. Yoga humbles the mind as we discover our true pace and abilities and have to accept and stop judging ourselves. I need to park all inner competition at the door in order to get the most from the next week.
Today we also broke down the idea of what nurturing ourselves means. A lot of what Louise says relates back to nature and the doings of Mother Earth. Modern society would have us believe that we have to earn the things we need. Yet nature and the earth are there to give freely. The seed takes all the nutrients; sun, air, earth to grow and achieve. We too should look to being able to freely receive the love and opportunity, help, encouragement and nurturing from others and the world around us. You are worthy.
Today starts with a morning sunrise walk to the cliff, which I missed because Barcelona had truly caught up with me by this point. I woke to find everyone gathered in the kitchen for brunch. Today consists of a Shadow and Light workshop and an Alchemy of Breath Meditation which is an hour long.
I have started to consider my intentions for being here. Along with strengthening my self-love practise, one thing I wanted to work on was calming the constant chatter in my mind. I wanted to quiet it or challenge it because it’s largely negative; the ego, the vicious inner dialogue and a whole lotta darkness that challenge my natural enjoyment and positivity on a daily basis.
So what is our shadow self?
I think everyone can relate to the idea that we have a little bit of darkness inside. It can manifest in many different tones of voice and today we took the time to share this inner dialogue with each other. What does our shadowy, unsavoury side say to us? Does it belittle you, tell you you are a failure or not enough, that your love ones don’t value you? Tell you you are unworthy? Does your shadow self step into sabotage mode when you are triggered by your fears?
Shining a light on our darker side allows us to accept the negative and hopefully understand that WE ARE NOT OUR THOUGHTS ourselves and how we can distance and disengage and observe them instead. By Accepting and creating DISTANCE we can start to heal. These shadow voices can often be our pain or trauma shouting out cruelties. You can see that everyone deals with this differently. I switch between being floored by the pain and anguish to creating a type-A, lunatic schedule to quiet them with distraction and activity. Avoidance. It’s easy to demonise our shadow selves because often they cause us unwanted pain and suffering but by stopping to read between the lines of this wounding chatter we may find the truth in the pain that we can then address and clear.
I notice as we go around the circle and voice our most demonising, inner monologues how there is a common thread; these thoughts are not us. When spoken aloud amongst the group they seem almost comically detached from me. My thoughts are not truth. The present moment is the only truth and in it we can choose to feel love.
We follow on our truthful and candid discussions with workshops to help us achieve inner peace including belittling our worst thoughts by saying them out loud in comedic voices. I know how this sounds, especially for any straight-laced, city types reading this. It’s a ridiculous exercise, but don’t worry, you’re in a safe space and guess what, it works.
Today we were invited to participate in an Alchemy of Breath workshop. An hour long, open mouth meditation that helps to dislodge and release built up energy and negativity. NB you don’t need to participate in anything you feel uncomfortable with however, I would always suggest welcoming uncomfortable exercises as a retreat is a safe space and you do truly grow from them.
I’ve done this practise before at previous retreats and remember vividly how uncomfortable I felt during the task but afterwards it was true catharsis.
The mediation takes place in 3 or 4 parts to music; the start and the middle was the most uncomfortable (emotionally), tingling sensations and pain in the areas where I carry my stress and tensions; shoulders, face and head and my gut. As we moved through the hour into part 3 there was a shuddering and cleansing breath. Everything seemed to lift and I moved into an overwhelming feeling of intense love. True story guys. I swear if I had one of these sessions every week for a year I’d probably become yogi-level enlightened.
After waking back to full consciousness, with wet eyes beneath my lavender pillow, I felt an intense and overwhelming feeling of love. Especially for Nate, who at the time I’d felt myself struggling to express myself fully because I feared rejection. To this day I am still working on this. These tools at the retreat are there to help us access pain and ease it for a better life. I still sometimes wonder if the trauma is better left untouched because I’m still working through things. It wouldn’t be the bravest choice but maybe the less painful one.
There is always a moment when your purpose or intension for being at a retreat is made clear to you. It illuminates itself like the sun on water; blinding you so quickly you wonder how you didn’t see it coming.
Breathwork day was D-Day for me. Although my self-love journey began last year when I hit rock bottom and walked away from an emotionally abusive relationship, I sense more than ever I am still in the beginning stages of learning to be nicer to myself. I had naively thought I had checked that SELF LOVE box with a big fat TICK. On reflection 2018’s retreat had been an awakening and 2019 an opportunity to learn the tools I needed to start to learn a new way of being.
I left True colours understanding that to live a happier and truer existence I generally need to invite more love into my life; mind, heart, work and relationships. And love in its truest form, not the berating passion filled love, not the love that is needy and co-dependant, not the love that involves manicures, new clothes and blow dries. Just the pure and subtle love that travels through air and time and flows out freely without agenda or veneer. Louise told us that Love is a cycle, when you put it out you get it back, when you give it to yourself you have it in abundance and can give it out ten-fold.
After my micro enlightenment the day before I had a sense of calm, the type you get when you’ve really settled into retreat life and start to wonder if you could ever go back to reality (believe me it happens). Louise is a well practised healer and has the most magical hands, so if you get the chance book her for a massage. It’s unlike any massage I’ve ever had. We spoke the whole way through, it was one of the most valuable and enlightening treatments of my life. Louise is so full of wisdom and kindness. I left on a cloud.
The yoga practises change daily and are for all levels. I enjoy how Louise has an hands on approach and hands out tactile assists during the practises.
This last evening we closed the retreat week with a Cacao Ceremony. Cacao is said to be a potent and energetic medicine and South Americans have made rituals around drinking this intoxicating, warm drink for centuries. Jonas, Louise’s husband Dj’d for us as we drank the hot cacao, rare and valuable, brought all the way from South America. With everybody’s inhibitions gone from a week of pure love and bonding we all danced as the sun set. YES, I am laughing as I write this as it feels so far removed from regular old city life, but in that moment it was instinctively perfect.
True Colours Retreat gave me the opportunity to own my truth; my ugly, desperate, hungry, creative, empowering, beautiful truth, after a year of building myself back up after I felt broken and unidentifiable to myself.
I had the opportunity to observe myself from all angles in a beautiful space in Ibiza for 7 days. It was difficult at times. I now have more understanding of myself than I ever have. I’d be lying if I said I am truly accepting of everything I’ve seen and learnt still to this day. That will take time, maybe a lifetime of work. But I do believe we are our own biggest projects and we owe it to ourselves to try our best. That’s why retreats are so valuable to me and no matter where I am in life, I will continue to go to them.
It may seem self-indulgent to some but that is the shadow self talking out of fear, because what could be more important than taking time out to love and respect yourself and get closer towards your true purpose.
Post Retreat Care
I said it at the start of this blog and I’ll say it again; Retreats are magical spaces where the outside world doesn’t exist. And when you leave a retreat don’t be surprised to have post retreat blues when the harsh realities of real life hits home. I have left retreats with a deep inner peace which lasted for weeks afterwards but True Colours stirred something in me that meant I left feeling like I had a big project ahead. It felt daunting and if I’m honest it still is but I’m glad it happened.
As they say “the unexamined life is not worth living.” You may leave with a deep sense of calm, stress free and your vision for life clearer than ever, everyone is different. If you leave and feel like you’ve pulled back the band-aid on an unhealed wound then you are brave! Keep moving forward. Healing isn’t linear yadayadayada. And you wont be left alone. Louise has a post-retreat care package that every visitor is entitled to including; email chats and a phone call to follow up and make sure you haven’t lost sight of all the pledges and good intentions you created on retreat. Or maybe just some much needed emotional support, if you want of course.
The Need to Know
From the outside True Colours looks like a delicious Ibiza holiday interlaced with delectable, healthy and nourishing food, idyllic scenery, heart warming and kind participants and knowledgeable, trustworthy and inspiring hosts. What is unseen in words and photos is everything else you receive. It’s an opportunity to medicate your mind and soul for a better understanding of who you are. A step closer to enlightening yourself with your true purpose, to take the first steps in casting away all that’s holding you back, releasing yourself from negativity and anything else that no longer serves you.
Everybody has a unique experience and has the opportunity to take from TC retreat exactly what they need.
A Typical Day at True Colours Retreat
07:30 morning fruits and teas
08:00 am dynamic hatha flow yoga and guided meditation
10:00 am morning intentions and journaling
10:30 am body, mind and soul nourishing brunch by our incredible chef
11:00 morning mindfulness and group coaching workshop
12:30 am free time for swimming, reading, relaxing, pampering or a walk in the nature
15:00 Afternoon snack
17:00 Pilates, breathwork or voice activation workshop
19:00 Nourishing dinner by our incredible chef
21:00 Evening restorative yoga, meditation or sound healing, to send you off for a blissful sleep
You will also enjoy island nature walks, special sunrise trip, sunset picnic outing, beach trips, brunch out at passion cafe, cacao ceremony, sound meditation, dancing and more.
A Special Discount for My Readers
Louise has kindly offered my readers the chance to book a True Colours Retreat with a 10% discount when they quote STYLELOBSTER when booking. Email [email protected] to enquire.
Retreats are run twice a year in June and October. The dates are the 6th-13th June 2020 & 3rd-10th October 2020.
For more information on the next True Colours Retreat click here.
Webinar Retreat Options
Founder Louise has out together an 8-week webinar package consisting of 90 minute, themed sessions to help bring awareness, insights, tools and practices to those wanting to move forward towards highest visions, whilst learning the paradoxical importance of always being where you are with peace and compassion.
It’s everything Louise has learned over her years travelling, working in India and all over the world learning all about healing practises, self work and yoga. She truly is a gifted individual so I highly recommend looking into this if you cant travel to a retreat.
Follow me on Instagram here. See more info on my RETREATS highlight here.