In a few days I’ll be heading to a beautiful, quiet beach in Phuket. It will be the day before the folks coming to our next resilience retreat arrive. I’ll check in to the venue and do all the preparation bits that need doing - timing and menus and locations and materials and details details details. The pile on my dining table of equipment and supplies is growing daily. So much so that visitors to my place feel compelled to ask what kind of vehicle I’m taking to Phuket, and then politely smother their incredulity when I say I’m flying. This is the prep others see.
But what about the other kind of prep - the prep that others can’t see? How do I prepare my self to hold space for a group of people embarking on an inner journey to build their personal resilience? And what should I do when I’m about to facilitate a resilience retreat that I actually would benefit from participating in? Fake it ‘til you make it doesn’t work so well with human connection and the inner journey.
I could turn this blog into one of those lists. You know the ones: 5 Best Strategies for Retreat Preparation or 10 Most Effective Self Care Activities. But I won’t. Because life can’t be boiled down to the same short list for everyone.
For me, then, preparation is multifaceted. First, I use the physical preparation as part of it. As I prepare materials, food, poems, and the like, I breathe into each item, connecting to its purpose and why we hold resilience retreats in the first place. As I stack items to be packed, I let my thoughts linger on their role in the whole thing, sparking excitement at what is to come.
Seeing the physical preparation coming along actually helps my internal preparation a great deal. It gives me both the brain and physical space to focus on my internal prep. It also provides some fuel in terms of inspiration, excitement, intentionality, and noticing. Then I breathe into the resilience practices and strategies that work best for me - especially those I use when I don’t have as much time for them. What do these strategies look like for you?
As the start of the retreat gets closer, I stoke my excitement, allowing it to build, feed my soul, and take me along for the ride. I try to be intentional about the little things, putting care into the bits and pieces that often go unnoticed yet make a cumulative difference in the end. There is purpose in everything we do, and I trace the flow of the retreat in my mind.
And then the day arrives. And when it’s time to start, I look out to the horizon, take a long, deep breath, and jump.