December has always been a month that triggers conflicting feelings for me. Not only is it my birth month, but it also signifies the completion and ending of something, which means a beginning is near. And so, December is usually the time of year when I tend to get hard on myself thinking about all the things I could have accomplished instead of looking at all the things I HAVE accomplished! (Isn’t that what we do as humans?) And so for the past three years I’ve made it my duty to retreat – literally to get away from the hustle and bustle and engage in deep #meditation, #selfreflection, and #selfcare in the early part of December. Here’s what was reinforced for me on my trip to the Silent Stay Retreat in California:
- 1) Love myself from the inside out, everything lasting begins within; outside in will fade.
- 2) Get somewhere quiet everyday, and be in the presence of the source.
- 3) Find something to be grateful for everyday, and document it.
- 4) Always celebrate my wins; but don’t just celebrate, document them.
- 5) Deduct the lessons from my losses before tossing them, and use them as a catalyst for my advancement.
- 6) Always forgive myself and others; without forgiveness I am stuck.
- 7) Take joy in receiving as in giving.
- 8) Listen to my body; Rome wasn’t built in a day.
- 9) Never underestimate the power of human connection; find and maintain a network.
1. Love Myself From The Inside Out, Everything Lasting Begins Within
The first time I saw a lesson on self-love I thought to my self, “lesson on self-love? how can a person not love him or herself? Why would someone need to be taught self-love?” Turns out many of us do need a lesson (or lessons) on self-love. It’s not narcissistic. It’s not weird. Rather, it’s the art of knowing ones self – perfections and imperfections, holistically caring for the self – spiritually, emotionally, mentally, physically, continuous improvement on areas that do need improvement (based on what YOU want) – and accepting yourself as a whole.
Here’s the epicenter of self sabotage and the opposing side to self love:
- a) Taking care of everyone else’s needs, leaving ours on the back burner – the one with the “when I have time” sign.
- b) Beautifying the outside, while the inside is in turmoil.
- c) Looking to others for validation, and then beating on ourselves when the validation fall short.
- d) Expecting others to love us when we don’t even love ourselves.
Caring for Everyone Else (But Ourselves)
- As women, we often put everything else before ourselves – children, family, career, business – giving our all with little to no self care for ourselves. And while doing all this is deemed fulfilling, continuous neglecting of self will ultimately lead to resentment, unhappiness, and overall bad health. It could also lead us to not being around for the results of our labor – all the seeds we’ve sown in your relationships, as parents, and our careers or businesses. Balance is the order of the day! And self love will lead us to assert this balance. Many times, if we don’t, no one else will.
Beautifying The Outside (While The Inside Suffers)
- Appearance matters! Our exterior matters; but wouldn’t it be wonderful if our inside is a perfect match to our outside? For some of us, it does, and for some the inside is even doing better than the outside. But for others, the inside is nowhere near the congruity, calm, and overall allure of the outside. Things such as limiting self-beliefs, unforgiveness, and past hurt that have not been dealt with will continue to eat at the inside and while people on the outside may not know about them – we do! And only you and I can make the choice to get the help we need to heal and pacify our internals, so that we can be true and whole on the inside as we are on the outside. How long can we “keep up appearance”? And what will happen when appearance fails?
Looking To Others For Validation (Becoming Broken In Its Absence)
- Outside validation does not work! And sadly, for many people, that’s their reality. The reality they create for themselves. And that need for external validation comes from a place of low self worth, and limited-ness. A place where everything is looking outward, and nothing is looking inward. It is so easy to look for outside validation from others, especially people we care about, because having them validate us (in our mind) is a form of approval. But what happens when that validation does not come? The fact that we look up to them, and place them in a place of importance and meaning does not mean they value us the same. Self is too important to leave any area to others to nurture and hold dear for us. Take time out to know yourself – flaws and all (we all have them) and learn to love yourself unconditionally. According to universal laws, your love and devotion to your self will attract people, things, and situations that are in alignment with your self worth and the way you have embraced yourself. Love and validate you!
Expecting Others Love (When We Don’t Even Love Ourselves)
- I’ve seen this happen so many times on so many different levels, and it is the most self-sabotaging thing anyone can do. This is especially dangerous in relationships where we expect our partner to love us unconditionally – including our imperfections, but we opt to not even love ourselves. Your partner knows you! And believe me when I tell you that your partner will treat you based on the way you value and treat yourself. If you love and value yourself, then you will not allow anyone to devalue and treat you as less than the beautiful, smart, courageous light being that you are. When you love and value yourself you will not tolerate anything less from anyone else. I’ve been in a past relationship where a man puts his hand on me, (yessssss, he tried it!) and the very first time he did, became the very last time. I was out of that relationship before he could even conjure up any excuse as to why he allowed himself to go there with me. All it took was one hit and I was out! We teach people how to treat us by the way we treat ourselves, and the way we react when treated unfairly. When a person love him or herself, it shows! In fact, universal laws allow it to be discerned and people around us know if we love ourselves or not. It emanates to others, and it’s not something we can hide. We can pretend, as many people do, but it does not work. Love yourself unconditionally first, outside love will flow in!
2. Get Somewhere Quiet Everyday, and Be In The Presence of The Source
Like the herbs need the sun, so do we need our source – whomever or whatever we consider that source to be. This is a daily non-negotiable for me, and it’s amazing what peace and clarity can result from being away from the noise, and absolutely quiet. By finding a quiet corner somewhere for ten or fifteen minutes of meditation every day, experts believe we can improve our overall health and well-being. One of the main principles behind meditation is that by removing negative and wandering thoughts and fantasies from our minds, we can calm ourselves and achieve a deep sense of peace. Any negative thoughts like exam stress, problems with parents, money, or relationship troubles contribute to the ‘pollution’ of our minds. Blocking them out for a while allows our minds to focus on deeper, more relaxing thoughts. In my experience, getting somewhere quiet, emptying my mind and listening creates a clear path for my source to connect with me. If you’ve never done this, you should try it. Only positives can result from this experience!
3. Find Something To Be Grateful For Everyday, and Document It
Oh my God! I cannot tell you how being grateful daily and documenting it has helped me – as a woman, mother, mentee, mentor, business owner. Research has shown – time and time again, that gratitude heightens quality of Life. Psychologists, Michael McCollough of Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas, and Robert Emmons of the University of California at Davis, wrote an article about an experiment they conducted on gratitude and its impact on well-being. The study split several hundred people into three different groups and all of the participants were asked to keep daily diaries. The first group kept a diary of the events that occurred during the day without being told specifically to write about either good or bad things; the second group was told to record their unpleasant experiences; and the last group was instructed to make a daily list of things for which they were grateful. The results of the study indicated that daily gratitude exercises resulted in higher reported levels of alertness, enthusiasm, determination, optimism, and energy. In addition, those in the gratitude group experienced less depression and stress, were more likely to help others, exercised more regularly, and made greater progress toward achieving personal goals.
Dr. Emmons – who has been studying gratitude for almost ten years and is considered by many to be the world’s leading authority on gratitude – is author of the book, Thanks!: How the New Science of Gratitude Can Make You Happier. The information in this book is based on research involving thousands of people conducted by a number of different researchers around the world.
There are many ways to practice gratitude. I practice gratitude everyday by keeping a gratitude journal, and documenting the things I’m thankful for – big and small. This concept was made famous by Sarah Ban Breathnach in her book, The Simple Abundance Journal of Gratitude. This exercise basically consists of writing down every day a list of three to ten things for which you are grateful; you can do this first thing in the morning or before going to bed at night. I do this every morning and again at nights. It doesn’t have to be a BIG thing; it could be something so simple as getting a phone call from someone you lost touch with and have been trying and longing to reach. Try it for yourself and see the difference it makes in your life!
4. Always Celebrate My Wins & Document Them
Yesssss! Celebrate those wins, and not only celebrate, but document them as well. Again documentation is super important – so key. You see documenting helps us to look back over our accomplishments, and not just remembering them vaguely, but actually seeing our list of wins. Coupling those documentation with photos from each win will undoubtedly keep you motivated, and in a space of gratitude because your progress will be abundantly clear.
5. Deduct The Lesson(s) From My Losses Before Tossing Them, and Use Them As a Catalyst For My Advancement
Yes, we’re gonna toss those losses! We do not want to constantly remember how they make us feel. But before we kick them to the curb, how about we deduct the lessons so we can use them for our advancement? Yes, there is a lesson or lessons in every loss, and although it may take some time to decipher the lesson(s), be sure to find and extract it before placing it into that box of forgetfulness. Thank you for this one Silent Stay Retreat!
6. Always Forgive Yourself and Others; Without Forgiveness You are Stuck
I don’t need to speak much on this topic because we all know how important forgiveness is – both forgiveness to self as well as others who’ve wronged us. It’s not always easy, but so very essential. In fact, it is difficult to carry around the burden of unforgiveness, and whether we realize it or not, it hinders us from moving forward wholeheartedly. Who do you need to forgive today? Forgive and watch yourself soar!
7. Take Joy in Receiving as in Giving
I’m a giver by nature, a happy one at that! And so when our instructor mentioned the importance of receiving, it was the first time it ever dawned on me that the opposing receiving is also a great thing. This message was definitely for me! I mean, I get a lot of gifts. I do! And maybe it’s a part of the universal law of attraction that allows this to happen, but I’m usually the one to say, “Oh thank you, but you didn’t have to” while literally feeling a bit sad to be taking from someone. As if they went through too much for me. So this is something I will stop doing, and start fully embracing whatever I’m offered.
8. Listen to My Body; Rome Wasn’t Built in a Day
Sometimes we push ourselves. I do! Even at times when we feel tired, weary or even a bit hurt we still try to push ourselves to complete or fulfill our obligations. It’s a natural part of us, especially us women. But, as was reinforced for me, the body speaks and when it does I need to listen and obey. We are not machines, and whatever is needed can be done another time, another day. What’s the point in pushing ourselves over the limit all the time? We may push ourselves out of this life. And you know what? Whatever we are pushing to complete will still be there after we are gone! The other important thing to do is to document when we are feeling what in our bodies. For example, if you wake up today and your eyes were unusually blurry at first then cleared up, you need to document that along with the date, time of occurrence, and what you were doing when it happened. Even if you are not going to check it out right away – when it occur, document it so you can bring it to your physician’s attention on your next visit. So listen to your body, and document the changes.
9. Never Underestimate the Power of Human Connection; Find and Maintain a Network
I’m very mindful of this and while I do have a network, or a variety of networks, I sometimes neglect them. Finding a network is vital, but like anything else, the maintenance is paramount. If we do not maintain our garden or our prized possessions, we will not get to enjoy them. They will fade and disappear, for sure, and we all know how it is starting from scratch with anything. So if you haven’t a network, find one! And if you have one that you’ve been neglecting, start attending to it.
So there you have it: 9 Things That Were Reinforced For Me On My Getaway To Silent Stay Retreat California
Make it a priority to self-love and self-care everyday!
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