Let's be honest, even in the forced slow down that is 2020, life still feels just as busy, noisy and hectic as ever. There isn't much peace and quiet to be found at home, work, or on online.
So when you're ready to hit the reset button, a DIY personal retreat might be just the thing you need.
Of course, I'm going to give you all the tips on how to do it here in my little corner of Montana.
But you can use this as a framework to have a DIY personal retreat anywhere you want. Even in your own house (if you can manage to get it all to yourself for a bit).
I'm sure you already know all the reasons you need to get away. The short version is probably: fewer things to do, fewer things to think about, and fewer notifications pinging your phone and computer 24/7.
You may be dreaming of an all-inclusive beach vacation where you'll finally read that stack of books on your nightstand (or in your kindle), or a cabin in the woods to work on your own writing, or a wellness retreat with daily meditation, yoga, journaling and massages.
Oh wait. I'm dreaming of a mask-free massage right now…
But the nice thing about a DIY personal retreat is that you make all the rules. There's no group schedule to keep up with, nothing on the agenda you don't like doing, and it can last as long as you'd like.
Ultimately, you can decide exactly how you'd like to retreat from the busyness of your daily life to rest, recharge and reconnect.
So before you dive into planning the details, take a moment and set your intention for this retreat.
Take a few quiet minutes with a journal and write down the true purpose for your time away. Is there anything you want to accomplish, or things you specifically don't want to do?
Here are some prompts to get you started:
My biggest challenge right now is…
A retreat would help me…
During my retreat I will feel…
Once you've set some intentions, think about whether this is a solo retreat or if you'd like to invite others. Depending on what you're working on, you may want your spouse or business partner to join you for some dedicated time together. Or this may be a solo retreat.
Regardless, take the time to decide what your boundaries will be during your time away.
Are you going completely off the grid? Will you check in daily? Make sure your family knows what to expect.
I find that we often say things to ourselves like….I need my phone to be on in case there's an emergency call I need to take…
Most of the time that's not true, there is no emergency, and I get much more restful sleep or uninterrupted meditation and writing time when I turn my phone all the way off.
But hey, it's your retreat. You do you!
Now, letting your intention guide your planning, come up with a focus for your DIY personal retreat. You could even give it a name, just like an organized retreat you might book.
Start by making a list of the things you definitely want to include in your time away. And don't forget time to stay up late under the stars, wake up with the sun, or sleep in with the blinds closed. I find nature and rest the two best remedies for resetting my physical and energetic body.
Here are a few ideas to help plan your itinerary:
- Reflect and integrate with meditation, journaling, walking or just sitting in nature.
- Nurture your body with stretching and yoga, hiking, dancing, massage, and delicious food.
- Get creative with artwork, writing, photography, cooking, channeling with your guides, visioning exercises, or a class to learn a new hobby or skill.
- Go adventuring in your chosen location by seeking out energy spots, finding local recommendations to explore , checking out community events and that hole-in-the-wall restaurant someone mentioned to you.
Now a quick side note on how to get the locals to open up when you travel somewhere new…
Because asking someone to tell you the best “local's spot” is never going to work. Well, maybe sometimes.
But if we've never met and you lean over to my table at a restaurant, ask if I live here and then ask me to divulge my secret spots, I'm definitely not going to tell you about that one spot in Glacier National Park where you can more or less get a beach on a lake all to yourself that doesn't require a hike to get to. If I know you, I'll totally tell you of course.
But this is a tip from local adventure photographer (and all around cool dude that you should totally follow on Instagram), Isaac Johnston.
He suggests asking locals the question: What do most people miss around here that is beautiful?
Solid gold question right there. THAT is how you find the secret spots.
He's a photographer, so he's looking for beautiful places in particular when he travels, but you could replace beautiful with interesting, cool, unique, special…you get the idea.
Okay, back to the retreat.
Once you have a general idea of the way you'd like to spend your time, you can focus in on a location that fits your needs. It could be as simple as scrolling AirBNB options in your town, looking for anything that catches your attention and feels supportive to your intention.
Or if you want to retreat further away, think about the vibe you're looking to immerse yourself in. Do you feel called to be with towering trees, crashing surf, a babbling brook, warm desert air, sparkling snow?
With those descriptions and feelings, you can begin exploring outward on a map from where you live, depending on how far you want to travel. I like to pull up Google Maps and slowly expand outward, using my intuition to guide me.
Does the name of a town or area catch my attention?
Do I see a feature on a map that I'd like to explore? Am I reminded of a place someone once mentioned to me that I still haven't visited?
As places call to me, I open a new search tab on my browser and look that place up to see what's there and if I feel a pull to explore deeper. If so, I'll start looking at lodging options until I zero in on the right location.
Once you've booked a location for your retreat and arrive at your destination, keep your mind and your options open. Sometimes the real reason we needed to step away from our daily lives isn't apparent until we actually step away.
You may have a list of activities planned and then find that all you want to do is sleep.
That's your body taking over and telling you that sleep is the highest priority at that moment. Go with it. Sleep for three days if you need to. Cancel your other plans.
You may have planned to write but then don't feel the inspiration. Instead of being frustrated, you may find that what you really need is more inspiration before you can begin (or continue) writing. So go explore, have some fun, talk to the locals. The writing may pour out of you when you get home.
So, if you're convinced on the idea of a DIY personal retreat AND you want it to be right here in the Flathead Valley of northwest Montana, here are my “local” recommendations (that I'm willing to publish publicly anyway).
First of all, if you're new around here, you may not know that my husband and I have a tiny vintage trailer that we rent during the non-freezing months of the year. If you stay here, you can explore the energy and portals here on the land and maybe even meet a Bigfoot or two. Check it out and book your retreat here.
If you'd really like to dive in and work with me personally either here in Montana or on Zoom (from another location of your choice!), consider booking a Personalized Retreat with me.
If your intentions include healing work of any kind, here are some local practitioners I know and love:
A Whole New You – Massage, cupping, hot stone therapy, craniosacral therapy, Thai yoga stretching, aromatherapy, Raindrop technique and more. Emily and her team are amazing when it comes to bodywork.
Velvet Touch Energy Works – Moon meditations, kundalini yoga, reflexology, astrology, akashic records sessions, sound baths, galactic activations, blueprint restorations and more. There's no way to easily explain working with Velvet except to say that I highly recommend it. If you feel called to work with her, call or text her like her website says. That's the best way to reach her. Seriously.
Clachan Healing – Jessica is an Alchemical Midwife helping you shift into new levels of being with a variety of tools including homeopathy. If you're doing shadow work or focused on healing a physical ailment, Jess will be your Anam Cara or “soul friend” on your journey. Her partner Ty focuses on the Conscious Masculine through soul coaching and sacred support for men.
Salt Box – If you haven't experienced dry salt therapy, you're in for a treat. It aids in detoxifying the respiratory system, healing skin conditions, promoting better breathing, sounder sleep and overall wellness and is a super relaxing way to spend an hour. They also have an infrared sauna and offer massage and EFT sessions. Sometimes, Velvet will play her crystal bowls in the salt room on the Full Moon and that is pure magic!
Curative Yoga – Right in downtown Bigfork (and online), you'll find daily yoga classes. They also offer workshops and depending on the time of year, sometimes there are outdoor classes in a variety of beautiful locations around the Flathead.
A few magical places you can visit:
Montana Portals – There are seven portals and three stargates on the land here where I live and the spirits always seem to be creating something new! If you're not staying here but still want to see them, send me an email and we'll schedule time for a tour.
Montana Vortex – It might seem like a cheesy tourist attraction, but it's a pretty powerful vortex. Go, take the tour (although you can bail after walking through the house of mystery and just wander around the grounds if you prefer), and checkout their metaphysical shop. Closed in the winter months.
Columbia Mountain – Great views of the valley with Bigfoot and star being energy. I've had many magical experiences here (and some painful ones too). This place will work on you. The road to the trailhead is on the right just past the vortex. It's not marked, but its the only road you can turn on opposite the river in this area. Getting to the top of the mountain is a strenuous, all-day hike. But there are plenty of beautiful sights just a 15-minute hike up, or a lovely waterfall around the 2.5 mile mark. It's a mountain so yes, it's all uphill. Bring your bear spray. Wear blaze orange during hunting season.
Glacier National Park – The energy here is ancient and there's so much to explore. There's always a being or nature spirit or message on every visit, but you're more likely to get quiet time to yourself in the off-season. The spirits of the land definitely get worn out from the frantic energy of the summer months.
Krause Basin Interpretive Trail – aka: Bigfoot's home. I LOVE this place. It's tiny but the energy is potent. You're almost guaranteed to have it all to yourself. Bring a blanket and find a spot to lay under the ancient cedar and hemlock trees. When you're done here, continue less than a mile down the road to the Strawberry Lake trailhead. You can do the six mile hike or just enjoy a picnic alongside the creek right at the trailhead.
Day trips from Kalispell to potent energy spots:
Kootenai Falls – Sacred to the indigenous people of the area, there is much to be discovered here. Approach this location with reverence, bring an offering, and spend time in communion with the spirits there. Not far from there you'll find Ross Creek Cedars, which I have yet to visit! But I've heard reports of a Fairy King & Queen energy there. Go check it out and let me know what you find.
Holland Lake – Jaw dropping views and beautiful energy! I perceive a stargate over the lake and some ancient beings in the mountains that keep watch. There's a campground, a small lodge with a restaurant (make reservations) as well as a waterfall hike.
Garden of 1,000 Buddhas – More of a curiosity than energy spot, but if you're driving between Missoula and Kalispell, its a great spot to visit and spend some time wandering. There are, in fact, a thousand buddha statues arranged in a circle with beautiful views in every direction.
St. Ignatius Church – Founded in 1845, you'll learn more about the complicated history of the Catholic church and local indigenous tribes in this location north of Missoula. The church itself is a work of art, filled with 58 murals hand-painted at the turn of the last century. It's open for self-guided tours year round – just stop in and show yourself around. On the grounds behind the church, you'll find some of the original buildings with historical photos and stories. Sit quietly in a pew and tune into the energies and spirits there.
I'm sure there is plenty more to be found as you explore further!
And no matter where you decide to go for a DIY personal retreat, take some time after you return to journal about your experience, any downloads that came through or action you wan to take as a result. Doing this helps ground energies and ideas from the ethereal into the physical.