A definition of retreat is;
the act of withdrawing, as into safety or privacy; retirement; seclusion or a period of retirement for religious exercises and meditation.
When I first started practicing as a Naturopath I was, like any newly graduating student, ready to go live my dreams, ready for the adventure of a lifetime. I jumped head first in to a clinical setting not letting fear stop me in my tracks. I had just spent 5 years studying my arse off at university and had such high hopes for myself, as I enthusiastically wanted to share all my newly acquainted knowledge with as many people as possible. I started out in Burleigh Heads in Queensland, Australia and was the practicing Naturopath and Nutritionist in a Multimodality Complementary Medical Centre.
When I opened my doors and the clients started trickling in at first and then flooding. I loved this one on one time focusing directly on getting to the bottom of the health issues of my clients and putting together treatment protocols for them to follow. Putting the pieces of the puzzle together was so thrilling for me and watching them get well was even better.
However although I spent over an hour with my clients during these sessions I always felt like I was not doing enough. It was as though a favourite TV show had stopped in the middle of an episode and I didn’t really get a chance to complete it; to see the end. There is only so much you can cover in an hour session and once we went over the most important stuff clients needed for their treatment there was never any room for all the juicy goodness I wanted to delve into.
I wanted to get to know my clients. I wanted to know about their families, what motivates them, what makes them tick, what drives them to get up in the morning, what were their deepest fears. I wanted to be able to really hold their hand during their healing process; not just prescribe herbs and supplements, change their diet and be there emotionally for them only during their allocated time slot. I wanted to be there next to them and ‘go in’ deeply with them as they traveled to the core of their health imbalances and work about correcting them on a mind, body and soul level.
after 1 year of working in a clinic I knew that I had to find a better way to work with clients that suited my own personal desires of helping people. I wanted to not just alter their diet but really educate them, get them in the kitchen and show them practical things, teach them how to look after themselves and empower them not only on a physical pathway to health and wellness but also incorporate aspects of emotional and spiritual healing in to the equation as well.
I knew with my whole heart and soul that I could not achieve what I really wanted to by sitting behind a desk during office hours and for that reason I knew I had to break ties with the expectations I had about myself and a career in clinical Naturopathy and Nutritional Medicine.
I started praying for an answer to my dilemma and thinking about how I can be better utilized as a practitioner and also incorporate my healing abilities into treating clients. I moved my practice to home, which gave me more control over the surroundings of my clinic space. I turned the space into a healing and tranquil environment and I continued to pray for guidance.
Within 3 months of practicing out of my new space I was given my answer; start running retreats.
Within 6 weeks of thinking about the idea of running a retreat I had been offered a job to manage a fasting retreat in Koh Samui, Thailand and landed on the island before I had even really processed this idea. I had left behind my home, my family and friends, my newlywed husband (he followed me out 3 months later), my business that I had worked so hard to build up and almost all of my possessions. The only things I took with me were what I could fit into my suitcase. I felt liberated and excitingly scared simultaneously and despite what EVERYONE else thought, I knew it was the right decision to move to Thailand and broaden my horizons as a natural therapist.
My first day on the job I met the most amazing people I could have wished for. They had all come to the retreat to detox and I was able to spend ample time with them. I knew they were going to be at the retreat for 5,7,10,14 or more days and I could impart as much of my own knowledge and insight with them during their stay.
We swam in the ocean, went to yoga, meditated together, and hung out on the beach, in the steam room, at the pool. I ran nutritional workshops and emotional awareness workshops and continued to do one on one sessions in my own little personal clinic at the retreat. There were tears, laughter, embarrassing colonic stories, recipes swapped, lifelong bonds concreted and when it came time for the guests to leave the retreat centre I said goodbye to them and my heart was full. I was witness to the personal transformation and healing that occurred when someone fully commits to taking time out of his or her hectic schedule to focus solely on healing themselves mind, body and spirit. I knew I had found the way I wanted to work with people and share my knowledge and my healing with them.
My time in Thailand was like a dream and every person whom I came across on that tiny little island changed my life in some mysterious way.
I continued to follow my own heart which eventually lead me to moving to Bali and setting up my own retreat center called Natural Instinct Healing alongside my Spirit sister Becky and my husband Pat. Now we run retreats all year around on a tropical island in Paradise. We also run retreats back in my home country, Australia, twice a year and it is something I feel so proud to bring home.
I feel as though I have the best of both worlds now. I get to still see clients one on one and they get to know me and I get to know them through my blog and social media. I love connecting with this community of like-minded souls from all across the globe and hearing all your stories, trials and tribulations…it lights me up every time. And I get to share retreats with people in some of my most favorite places in the world. I am filled with gratitude and so grateful I listened to that calling of wanting something different.
I shared this story because I get asked on a DAILY basis; ‘how did you end up running retreats?’
And to break it down even further; here are the nuggets of gold I extracted from living through this little piece of my journey…
- Never let fear stand in the way of anything, and I mean ANYTHING. If I had not have started my first clinic in Australia I would not be where I am today. If I listened to the voice inside my head that said “I’m scared” I would currently be in a job I hated and not following my true calling.
- Always trust your gut even when everyone else thinks your making a huge mistake. If you know undoubtedly that it’s the right thing to do, do it. It’s hard sometimes but I promise you it is so worth it!
- Never underestimate the power of prayer
- Change and transformation comes from taking ACTION. Dreams don’t work unless you do!
Have you ever followed your gut instinct and intuition against everyone else’s advice? Where did it lead you? Let me know; I am eager for you to share your story.