Have you ever been on retreat?

It’s a word that gets bandied around a lot these days and I’m wondering whether we’ve lost the essence of it’s true meaning.

I’ve been lucky enough to retreat twice a year for some time now and the effect it has on me is always astounding. In my early years as a retreater, I’d pack loads of self-help books in my suitcase and promise myself I’d listen to that meditation course I bought years ago. Only to come back having ‘achieved nothing’.

But that’s the point. Well, it is for me. Retreating is as individual as you are but at its deepest level it is a time to do ‘nothing’. And in that space of nothing comes something. It’s a very yin and yang concept. The beauty of retreat is in the space it can create.

I’m not even sure why we use the word retreat – the prefix ‘re’ means again or withdraw, whilst treat can mean either ‘deal with in a certain way’ or ‘try to heal or cure’ or an ‘event out of the ordinary that gives great pleasure’. I love the idea that retreat means 'withdraw to heal or take great pleasure'.

If you haven’t been on retreat before, and even if you have, here’s a few of my favourite reasons why it’s so good for the mind, body and soul and an opportunity to withdaw, heal and take great pleasure;

  1. Putting yourself first – selfish or selfcare?

Many of us midlifers feel under pressure (stress) from family whether that be parents, children or partners. Most of us have put the needs of others first all our adult lives and feel guilty about taking time away. We feel we’re being 'selfish' rather than seeing it as self care.

The truth is that suits other people too, so it makes it doubly hard to make that step to say ‘I need a break’. I see it often in my patients and the way I’ve got 2 favourite ways of explaining it – as they say on the plane – ‘put your own oxygen mask on first’ or more eloquently the Chinese proverb –

‘If you listen to your body when it whispers, you won't have to hear it scream’

And finally, as women we’re often the ‘long pole in the tent’. If we break then the whole tent comes down. To me time away is not selfish it is definitely selfcare.

  1. Reconnecting With Yourself

Retreating can be an opportunity to reconnect with yourself. In our busy lives we’re busy in our roles, but who do we really want to be. Life is often too full whether that be filled with doing things physically or in the mind with the anxieties of life.

Many of us arrive at midlife wondering how we got there and what the next few decades hold for us. I liken it to a monopoly board that I sometimes think I forgot to put hotels on. What I’m forgetting in that analogy is that hotels or riches don’t have to be made of bricks and mortar.

A retreat gives you time and space away from the norm to help you get back to yourself and what you want for this next phase of life. To remember or even find out what gives you joy and find the space to figure out how to take that in to your everyday life.

  1. Rest as hard as you like

In comfortable surroundings you can switch off. Disconnect from the daily demands of work and home. Even simple decisions lie what to have for dinner are gone (and that’s a relieve after decades of being asked what’s for tea!)

Resting doesn’t just mean sleeping, or lying around but it can do! It’s not just physical it’s mental too. Removing or limiting choices can help you to surrender to stillness in your mind. And from stillness comes deep rest.

And if you need support with finding stillness there are plenty of gentle practices to help with that. From yoga nidra (a type of body scan) to acupressure with oils and a walk in the trees or a gently held swim in a salt water, healing pool there are lots of restful and calming ways to ensure you rest as hard as you like.

  1. Return to ‘normal life’ with a refreshed perspective

Not only do you feel the profound benefits of retreating while your away you’ll take away new insights and ways of supporting yourself back home. Perhaps you’ll deepen you’re existing practice and from the space of a retreat find ways that you can enrich your life back home.

Those around you benefit too, with renewed strength the ‘main pole in the tent’ will be stronger. Your replenished balance will have a ripple effect around you that will radiate out to others.

You’ll find that you value your new healthy relaxation and see this time as selfcare for you and those around you, without the guilt!

Why a Chinese Medicine Retreat?

Chinese medicine offers a beautiful perspective on life through the lens of nature. Even if we only retreat into natural space, away from daily stresses our health is already benefitting. It could be as simple as a walk in the woods – that’s retreating, although not if you’re glued to your phone!

My wellness retreat is curated to give you time away from your usual daily demands and to immerse yourself in beautiful Chinese medicine healing practices. Not only will you feel the benefit while you’re away, but you’ll arrive home with new tools and practices to keep you feeling great.

For 6 days we’ll be living according to the concept of the ‘Chinese clock’.  This framework helps you make the most of your day, by doing the right thing at the right time to optimise your energy and health.

And if you do nothing other than join me for meals, you’re already living the Chinese clock. The timing of mealtimes and the way we eat can have a profound effect on your health. Not to mention you haven’t had to think about what to eat, let alone prepare it or clear up afterwards. Your ‘job’ will be simply to eat nourishing, locally sourced and created meals. Bliss.

There’s been lots of research to back up the Chinese medicine recommendation that eating with others is such an important, yet often unavailable, way of improving our digestion. That’s another box ticked on improving your wellbeing and you haven’t had to do a thing!!

There will be plenty of other ways to benefit from Chinese medicine wisdom. You can join daily workshops to introduce you to the concepts of wellbeing, including simple practices to enjoy and to take home and continue.

The Chinese clock suggests using your brain midmorning, so that’s when I’ll host my workshops and relaxing after lunchtime, so when in Spain…. a little siesta time could be in order.

You’ll receive group acupuncture, experience meridian stretching (qi gong a meditative Chinese movement practice), use Baoding (chiming meditation balls) in the caves, learn self-massage techniques and how to pair essential oils with acupressure. And that’s just the start!

The Most Beautiful Surroundings

Immerse yourself in nature in the heart of the beautiful Andalucian mountains. Fresh air, so good for our lungs. Pure water from the Spring that runs through the retreat centre to enliven your mind and body. Glorious sunshine to relax and soothe your soul and shady mountain trails to move your energy and bathe in tree wisdom.

Molino Del Rey, retreat centre is the most magical of places. It’s a stunning award-winning space, recognised by many as one of the best retreat centres in the world. The incredible views across the mountain range and the sweet smell of mountain flowers and herbs are a sensory delight.

Luxury Retreat Centre

It offers luxury retreat accommodation – every room has an ensuites (I know right!!) AC, hairdryers, and tea making facilities. No need to take a towel for the pool as that’s included too. Sleep well on comfortable beds and wake restored from your rest.

Enjoy the cooling meditation caves, the saltwater pool and the gorgeous yoga room where we’ll gather for group acupuncture, meridian stretching, and workshops.

Designed for comfort and beauty there are plenty of hammocks, daybeds, and loungers to relax and restore. Plus it’s small enough for us to gather but big enough for you to be alone when you need

All this and eat nourishing food that you didn’t prepare, cook or need to clean up after!

Just writing this article has taken me there. I’m so looking forward to hosting this years Wellness Retreat at the wonderful Molino Del Rey, will you join me?


**** For more information and to book my next retreat click here. *****

****** To find out more about the Chinese Clock and how it can help optimise your health join my next free event - tickets here. *******


About Jo Darling MBAcC Lic Acu, Founder Menopoised®

Jo Darling is an acclaimed Chinese medicine practitioner with expertise in women’s natural health and the founder of Menopoised® She’s passionate about helping women transition through menopause, whether natural or medically induced and is an experienced oncology acupuncturist.

Jo’s mission is to empower women to live healthier, happier lives sharing her 15 years of clinical experience harnessing the ancient wisdom of traditional Chinese medicine. She successfully works with patients to support them with mental and physical health imbalances from hot flushes to anxiety, low mood or low energy, migraines, insomnia and much more.

Jo integrates a range of Chinese medical techniques including acupuncture, gua sha, moxibustion and offers lifestyle advice (yang sheng) to help women help themselves. She offers both in person and remote treatment incorporating the use of essential oils to activate specific acupuncture points.

About Bazi Health Readings With Jo

Jo offers Bazi (chinese astrology) health readings to help you to understand yourself better. Through a reading with her you can find out what aspects of your health, mental and physical need more support and find out how to harness your strengths to help you feel better.

What you'll get from a reading:

* Empower yourself with greater self knowledge

* Understand you physical, emotional and mental potential

* Recognise and hone your strengths

* Learn how to support your health weaknesses

If you'd like to find out more about a Bazi health reading with Jo click here.

How Jo’s Cancer Patients Changed Her Life

Her work with cancer patients, helping to reduce the side effects of chemotherapy, radiotherapy and hormonal treatment has been life changing not just for her patients but also for her.

She noticed her cancer patients often experienced immediate and intense menopause symptoms (as a side effect of their treatment) and for some their hot flushes were so overwhelming they couldn’t even drive to her clinic. Menopausal herself and rocked by her best friend’s cancer diagnosis she decided enough was enough.

Jo says:

“I looked around for effective natural solutions, aligned with my principles and ethos that I could recommend to my patients. What I found was nothing. At least nothing that was proven to be effective that women could use at home and get the same effects as seeing an acupuncturist.

That’s when I took things into my own hands and created Menopoised®. Effective, natural, side-effect free and beautiful to boot. Because, quite frankly why shouldn’t products for menopausal women look and feel gorgeous!”

Armed with her extensive knowledge, practise-based evidence and expertise in Chinese Medicine she set about creating beautiful, effective products herself under the brand name Menopoised®.

Menopoised® Products

The Menopoised Menopause Magnet

For when your menopause is too hot to handle, helps get your cool back naturally. Each box contains four ready-to-wear magnets and 24 replacement plasters. Fast-acting, wear anytime and side effect free.  Read our FAQs here.

Embrace Cool, Find Calm, Be Collected Aromatherapy Rollerballs

When your menopause is getting you down, our aromatherapy pulse point oils help you Embrace Cool, Find Calm and Be Collected. Each intuitive and thoughtful blend is formulated to harness the natural healing principles of Chinese medicine.

Let the oils ancient botanical wisdom take care of you. Set of 3 x 10ml pulse point essential aromatherapy oils.

Embrace Cool releases the natural essences of wise Clary Sage, calming and balancing Geranium, refreshing Lemon and Cooling Peppermint to help take the edge off those moments of feeling overwhelmed and overheated.

Find Calm with delightful and luxurious Neroli to float you to cloud nine, whilst Lavender calms, Patchouli soothes and Ylang Ylang relaxes. A welcome moment of peace when you need it most.

Be Collected is a clearing blend that releases the natural essences of Rosemary to help you keep it all together along with cool Peppermint and woody Cypress, for those times when you need to be on the top of your game.

Cool & Calm Aromatherapy Cream

This luxurious Cool and Calm cream blends pure essential oils to calm the mind, balance the hormones and cool you down when you’re feeling the heat.

When your temperature’s rising Rose Geranium supports hormonal balance and cooling Peppermint brings a breath of fresh air and clarity. Woody Frankincense instills a sense of peace whilst Lavender’s relaxing properties infuse calm. Wise and cool Clary Sage helps to calm the nerves, with an affinity for hormonal health. 

Beautifully blended to nourish and restore this Cool and Calm cream harnesses the richly moisturising properties of cocoa and shea butters to help rehydrate and protect tired skin.

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