by Kristina Smith
Driving the scenic country roads of Caledon, Ontario on a postcard-worthy Autumn day, I felt excited, but a little anxious – this would be my first retreat and I wasn’t really sure what to expect. The promotional material listed yoga, meditation and soul writing (yes, yes, and yes!) but also journey dance and nature bathing, which I admit to imagining as having to strip down and dance ceremoniously around a bonfire.
I tried not to overthink it ahead of time. Still, questions like, “as much as I complain about our kids’ attachment to their screens, will I realize I miss my devices too? and, will I feel uncomfortable?” crept up on me. We were asked not to bring electronic devices or scented products; I decided to leave my judgments at home for the weekend too.
After arriving and settling in (I was sharing a room with a dear friend, craftily avoiding the solo experience my first time around), Roberta, the retreat facilitator and a shamanic healing practitioner, warmly welcomed us and laid the groundwork for what would be more sharing of the ancient wisdom of teachings that have been passed on for thousands of years.
That evening’s sacred circle bonfire encouraged us to cleanse our energy fields and release what wasn’t serving us any longer, so we could welcome in new desires and blessings. Though the smudging rituals and drumming ceremonies were new to me, I found them incredibly comforting and primal, almost like an instinctual déjà vu.
Over the weekend, we embarked on a shamanic healing journey to powerful drumming sounds to retrieve our power animals, an experience that I was surprised to find quite emotional. We also created our personal medicine wheels, the basis of healing for our deepest selves.
Yoga sessions and the opportunity to connect on a heart level with other retreat goers were layered with delicious, nourishing meals. And blessedly, there was coffee, perfect for warming up before a brisk morning meditative walk. The surrounding forest, with its purposeful stone circles, could not have been more perfect for connecting with a deep sense of peace and that “all-is-good-in-the world” feeling.
Though I had hoped to at least meet some like-minded people, I found a group of wonderful, funny, creative and wise women, and a new appreciation for connecting the “old-fashioned” way. I also came to the realization through the work that becoming my best self is a lifelong project, not something I can complete and check off my list (as someone who really enjoys checklists, this was huge).
I went on retreat looking for time away from my work and family responsibilities to reflect spiritually and connect inwards; I left for home feeling calm, refreshed and deeply grateful for my life. For anyone considering a retreat for the first time, I’d say throw your concerns to the wind and go for it.
If you’re in the Ontario area, we recommend connecting with Roberta Robbins, a passionate life coach, spiritual mentor, shamanic healing practitioner, registered massage therapist, and creator and facilitator of the Wise Sacred Woman Sisterhood Circle. Roberta offers personal soul sessions, workshops, retreats and classes to help you reclaim your voice, your passion, and to speak and live your authentic truth.