At first I had named it ‘discipline week’ and thought of it with some harshness and squinty eyes, as if going into a bootcamp. It was the week extra I had to stay in Indonesia as my boyfriend had to go back earlier to work and take care of the dog. As I really didn’t have any business at home in the cold and my family was away, I might as well stay a week by myself and focus on writing my new book. I quickly re-named it ‘retreat week’. Because I love retreats. They are more kind and inspiring than a Discipline week
There’s nothing weak about retreating, pulling back, withdrawing. The word has been used more and more in yoga and other spiritual and trendy activities. Going on a retreat means to withdraw from the normal life, to reflect, look within, gather energy, do good things and change habits. There’s really no need to be in Bali for a retreat, it just makes life better and easier to be in a warm, friendly place with great food.
I don’t believe in sitting still and writing for too long at a time, so I wanted to do meaningful things between writing that would support the book’s content. That would be: Yoga, meditation, surfing, reading other inspirational books, listening to podcasts. I decided not to have a schedule, but instead listening to what the body and mind needed most, which is a great exercise.
- All you need to do is to mark a week for your retreat, find a place, and make your favourite schedule come true. Decide if you need yoga/meditation classes taught by a instructor or if you want to do your own practise.
- An early morning start is a good start. It´s more quiet in the morning and it will give you some time to start the day you really want it. If you want a calm retreat you have to start calmly. I started every day with meditation for 10 minutes followed by a slow yoga routine just to wake the body up and see what it needs this morning. I quit coffee as a first thing in the morning and drank a kombucha sitting outside in the daybreak.
- It’s great to make meditation a habit during a retreat. It takes about 1 week to get into it. I do a minimum of 5 minutes every morning just after waking up, and if it feels good I continue up to 30 minutes. Same in the evening.
- It’s also a good time to make better eating habits. I stayed away completely from sugar and sweets and ate mostly smoothiebowls and salads. All places had nice health-shots of turmeric, wheatgrass and ginger to add.
- It quickly gets hot, so the only day to do exercise without getting a headache or heatstroke is early mornings. I switched in between surfing, jogging and vinyasa yoga classes. Followed by breakfast and a hour of writing after breakfast.
- Ihad a list of books to get through and the hot hours of the day was spent reading or writing in a café or at home. A light lunch and then more writing before evening.
- I had one or two yoga classes every day in the afternoon. Then a early dinner and reading before a early bedtime. I said no thanks to invitations hanging out with other yogis.
The first obstacle was my boyfriend. We’d been together travelling for so long. The first day I realised it was a terrible idea to stay a week alone. I’d just be missing him all the time, and get no writing done.
Battling restlessness was one of my biggest challenges. Very often when I sit down to write I find that I can´t sit still but start to procrastinate. That’s why it’s good to have a variety of good activities to help. If there was something I’d rather do I’d tell myself ‘ write a full page before you do it’, as if to get a reward.
I had a stomach illness and fever. It wiped away some yoga, surf and eating habits but I kept reading and writing as much as I could muster.
I was debating wether to stay in Ubud, but it is just too far away from the ocean. I love Medewi, but it’s not much to choose from in food/yoga. So I stayed on a quiet street in Canggu. I don’t really like Canggu that much, but it’s a place that has great yoga, amazing food and somewhat ok surf. Canggu is convenient. The negatives are that it’s LOTS of tourism, noise and too crowded at the surfbreak, but it’s possible to work around. You can surf super-early morning before the crowds, stay in the more secluded Nelayan street and find the small more hidden spots for writing and eating.
Good writing/eating spots: Shady shack, dandelion, the daun, organic cafe,
Good yoga places: serenity (has unlimited-week-passes), the practice, samadhi
Good places to stay: the daun, black pearl, serenity