Leading into going to the Soul Sister Retreat I don’t mind admitting I was feeling average. A cold with a good side serving of sinus pain had hit me earlier in the week and I was struggling to shake it off. As someone who very rarely gets sniffles, I was probably working too hard to push through it when I should of just rested – but hindsight is a wonderful thing right?
The morning of the retreat I felt better but still not quite myself. If I had not been so excited to go I could of easily made the decision to give it a miss, but I was excited for the drive up into the bush area of Millgrove and a chance to spend time with the lovely retreat host Steph Demetrious. I had met Steph at an event we spoke together at and I was instantly drawn to her calm energy and lovely presence. When I found out she was hosting a retreat I really wanted to attend most of all as a chance for this teacher and trainer to just ‘be’ for awhile and quite honestly – have someone else do the work and take care of me!
I was so glad I made the decision to go because not only was the retreat a beautiful overall experience, I genuinely feel it helped me learn so much about myself as a woman and a business owner too.
Our accommodations for the weekend were simple bunk dorms but they were given such homely and feminine touches like himalayan salt lamps, flowers and inspirational quotes. It’s little touches like this that truly make an event experience so special. And those touches were carried throughout the entire weekend with lush cushions to lounge on, divine goodie bags, scented candles, essential oils, crystals and plentiful soulful books to dive into. And to top it all the beautiful natural surrounds were second to none. A glorious pink and purple sunset on our first night, wildflowers underfoot, tall eucalypts to admire, cheeky kookaburras, lush ferns and a babbling stream were all partners in our weekend. Thank you Mother Nature for being with us so beautifully.
As is my usual default once settled in and having met some beautiful new friends, I began to wonder what was next on the ‘timetable’ and ‘agenda.’ What would be do? Where would we sit? What was coming up next? And my questions were by and large for the entire weekend to go unanswered as I was dished up in the most delightful and gentle way – a true lesson in being led by the Divine.
I asked Steph after what was to be the first of a number of amazing vegetarian meals when our first session would be and if there was a timetable for the weekend. She smiled at me and said “I think we will gather soon but there’s no timetable. I’m just seeing what comes to me and when it feels right to come together.” Instantly I felt a pull inside me. On the one hand I thought “Perfect. Just as it should be for a feminine women’s retreat.” And on the other my head panicked with the immediate thoughts of “But what if I miss something? Or go for a walk at the wrong time? Or not know where to be?” Realising I had no choice but to go with it, I decided that if I did miss something that maybe the walk was more needed or I simply was not meant to be there. Time to let go.
A beautiful welcoming circle and dance around a candlelit flower mandala ended our first night and I was glad to hit the pillow. Waking from it the next day was another story however as I lifted my head to the worst headache I had endured in years and an overwhelming sense of nausea. Frustrated with myself for still being sick even though if I was being honest it felt like my cold had already left me, I bundled myself off to our morning yoga class, only to not make it all the way through. Every time I lowered my head below my heart the room would spin and my nausea worsened. It then got to that point of no return – where you know you are going to be sick even though you can barely believe you are and don’t want to be. Dragging myself to the bathroom I could barely believe how much I was sick, where, or why it was coming up. I truly felt awful and had visions of needing to be driven home.
Feeling more than sheepish, the lovely Steph came to check on me saying that the energy surrounding us all right now was very potent and that there was a lot of ‘stuff’ coming to the surface for all of us in this safe and nurturing space. And that maybe I was just releasing that which no longer needed to be with me. Resisting that to begin with I blamed it on my lingering cold, but as I showered and started to feel a thousand times better, I realised what Steph said had enormous merit. And that maybe, just maybe, the energy around me was so potent that it was reaching me on a physical level like a slap across the face – in a good way! And so it may come as no surprise to hear me say that after being sick and showering, my headache and nausea left me and I felt better than I had in a week. One hearty breakfast later and I was ready for the day.
As Steph promised we rolled through our first full day on retreat very gently and with no timetable. A group chakra meditation and sharing, a long solo walk for me, beautiful time spent in deep conversations with soulful women, a nap, and playing with my oracle cards slowly saw the day disappear. And at our evening circle we each shared some thoughts on an exercise Steph had suggested we try about what our ego was currently telling us about ourselves and deeper than that, what the truth of our soul wanted us to know.
The truly poignant sharing by all the women in our circle by the warmth of a crackling fire will not ever leave me. Divine souls shared of their heartache, nasty inner critic, guilt, worry and shame in a display of pure vulnerability. They also then shared the joy of their truth at a place deep beyond that surface of knowing they were loved, supported, held and worthy. And I shared with everyone how moved I was to be in circle with them in such a way where once upon a time hundreds and thousands of years ago women gathered like this in communion and shared their truth, helped each other heal, and spoke of how they could connect in greater ways to the Goddess and Divine Feminine energy that guided them in everything they did. And that most of all such circles and gatherings of women realise that the path of the Divine is all about individual healing of our own ego, insecurities and jealousies that keep us small. And that it is only in our personal healing that we can truly hope to have a greater impact on our communities and world as a whole. Ending our night with a candlelit dance I could feel the energy amongst us had both lifted but also become deeper. How amazing for such a short period of time.
And the following morning we ended our time together with Steph reminding us that the soulful guidance we are looking for is always within us and that a tribe of sisters and support is also always around us as well. And that in living our truth and allowing to be led by soul we will always attract towards us the people we are meant to.
I truly had such a beautiful time at the Soul Sister Retreat. I cannot recommend enough that if you are called in even the smallest way to take yourself out of your usual life and go to something like this – that you do. Don’t worry if you don’t know anyone. That can be even better as you release the need to be who you think you are around people who know you, and simply sink into what it means to be who you are with no pre-conceived notions from others – or yourself.
What a beautiful, freeing and amazing gift to give yourself. And thank you to Steph for being such a teacher to me in this experience. For letting go right in front of us all and showing what it is to truly surrender and be present in every moment while simultaneously holding space for a collective of women. Not an easy thing to do but an amazing thing to watch and be a part of.
If you would like to see more photos from the Soul Sister Retreat you can view them in an album at my Facebook page.
Thank you, thank you, thank you from my heart and soul to yours for your heartfelt words beautiful Julie. An experience we’ll always remember:) Big love and hugs, Steph xx
Indeed it was Steph. Loved every moment.