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It’s time for you to care for your mind, body and soul. And one of the best ways to do that is by creating a personal retreat experience for yourself.
As you take time to retreat, refocus and live in the present moment, you give others permission to do the same.
Friend – I know you’re tired. You’re burning the candle on both ends. You try your best to stay hydrated, eat healthy(ish), move your body often and maintain healthy relationships WHILE ALSO running a business and loving on your family. You’re super fulfilled! And you’re also freakin’ exhausted.
You have a laundry list of creative ideas swirling in your mind, but you can hardly find time to make them happen. You are a natural at caring deeply for others, but setting aside intentional time to care for yourself doesn’t come as easily (or as often).
I see you.
Darling, it’s time.
If the thought of doing something like this for yourself makes you feel “selfish” – don’t let it. Here’s the beautiful thing about taking a personal retreat – everyone benefits. Everyone benefits when you take care of yourself.
As you refresh your spirit and rejuvenate your soul, you shine your light brighter and brighter. You become an example of self-care for us all. And the world needs more examples like that, if you ask me.
It’s time to plan a personal retreat for yourself, bb. It’s time to create a safe and sacred space no matter where you are and I’m going to show you how to do just that.
Are you ready? Me too. Let’s dive in!
“The arrow doesn’t draw the target. The target draws the arrow.” – ?
in·ten·tion | inˈten(t)SH(ə)n: an aim or plan, a person’s designs, the healing process of a wound.
The intention you set for your personal retreat will become the foundation for your entire experience.
Everything you do during your sacred retreat time will trace directly back to the intention you set for yourself at the beginning. Your intention does not have to be a lengthy, intellectual or philosophical one. In fact, some of the most powerful intentions are quite simple.
Here are some examples of intentions I’ve set for my personal retreats in the past. Feel free to choose one for your next personal retreat experience!
Your intentions guide your actions. The goal is to establish intentions first so that your subconscious is also aware of what you’re wanting to accomplish and can provide you with great ideas and insights in order to achieve your aim.
I also find it interesting that one of the definitions for the word INTENTION is “the healing process of a wound.” That definition really resonates with me, and here’s why.
I believe solo retreats and personal retreats are sacred. I can’t begin to tell you the number of times I have begun a personal retreat, felt my spirit slowly begin to calm as I connected with center in a deeper way, and then, like clockwork, a flood of emotions that I’d unconsciously been suppressing would move through my body.
The first few times it happened I remember really beating myself up about it.
I remember saying to myself “Anastasia, took yourself on this retreat to. Why are you crying like this?! You don’t have time for it. Be strong. Shake it off and move on.” And suddenly, I pictured the little girl inside me crying with no one to comfort her and my heart softened as I realized what was really happening.
Right in that moment the Spirit showed me exactly what I needed to see in order to realize this personal retreat is about far more than the intention I had set, or the goal I wanted to accomplish – it was about healing. It was about connecting with center again. It’s about comforting and loving the little girl inside of me.
Ultimately, a personal retreat is a return to love. What purpose does it serve if you achieve your intention, but you haven’t allowed yourself space to heal in the process? A personal retreat that leaves you feeling whole, loved, beautiful and infinitely powerful is what this guide is all about.
I’ll go into more thoughts like this in the BONUS section titled “RETREAT MINDSETS TO OWN YOUR PERSONAL POWER” but for now, I leave you with this.
Begin your solo retreat by setting an intention for your experience. Once you’ve decided what your heart needs, then you can celebrate by choosing a location!
“If we can master the art of turning our homes into a sacred space, then we can turn ANY space in the world into a sacred space”
Intention set? Check! Now it’s time to choose your personal retreat location. Before you default to dropping a big ol’ chunk of change on flights and hotel rooms, here is a list of affordable and effective location options to consider. I encourage you to keep an open mind here.Some of these options you may have never considered before, but are extremely viable (and potentially free) locations.
Now, I know what you’re going to say…
“But Anastasiaaaa. HOME? I’m literally always there. How am I supposed to be creative and inspired when I know there are so many things I could be doing around the house?!” Or maybe you’re reading this thinking “Cute, Anastasia. Real cute. But I work from home and I already sit at my desk for literal hours upon hours a day. The last thing I want to do is be at my desk, or in my house even more on the weekend.”
I hear you! But – track with me.
As I write these very words I’m on a weekend writing retreat in the peaceful comfort of my Cali apartment. To me, my home is my oasis. An intentionally curated and creative space where I decide the vibe at all times. So what better place to retreat for a weekend while writing the ULTIMATE GUIDE FOR PLANNING A PERSONAL RETREAT than from my home!
[Enter counter-cultural opinion]
If we can master the art of turning our homes into a sacred space, then we can turn ANY space in the world into a sacred space. Try it. Bonus – a weekend retreat in your home is FREE99 and always available for you to “book”.
Now don’t get it twisted – I do LOVE a good hotel retreat too. Not only does it add an element of surprise and adventure to it, but the fancy pics in the lobby do wonders for my Instagram feed (Kidding? But not really.) Another benefit of taking a weekend retreat at a hotel is the access to amenities (one of my favorite words)!
Yes, we’re team self-care here! And we’re ALWAYS about investing in ourselves whenever we can – especially with experiences that spark joy and inspiration. So, yes! Book that hotel baby and take yourself to the spa. #selfcareaintselfish
You don’t have to buy a plane ticket in order to stay in a nice hotel, folks. You can find a hotel that’s close to home and have an unforgettable retreat there too.
Just last month I took a solo weekend retreat and booked a hip hotel in LA. I packed a bag, hopped in my car and arrived at the hotel within 30 minutes. I didn’t have to go far to find a great hotel and have a wonderful experience!
I woke up one morning and said “I want to go on a personal retreat this weekend”. So I downloaded the HOTELS TONIGHT app, scanned for a stunning LUXE or HIP hotel with an artistic design, great rates and rave reviews. Then I booked two nights with a tap of my pretty little perfectly manicured finger.
That’s literally how last month’s solo retreat happened and I had the best time! You can try using my Hotel’s Tonight link. It should give you $25 off your first hotel booking when you spend $135.
Now, I’m very aware some more critical souls would say “Anastasia, you literally live 30 minutes away from the hotel. Why not just go to the hotel for the day, then go home to sleep and save yourself some money?”
Fair question. Answer is simple.
I wanted to stay in a hotel that weekend. So I stayed in a hotel that weekend.
It’s really is as simple as that.
And if YOU want to stay in a hotel that’s 10 minutes away from your house – freaking do it! Book the hotel you want and proceed to enjoy it UNAPOLOGETICALLY!
I cannot count the number of personal retreats I’ve booked with AIRBNB! I’ve booked them all over the world! Israel, Italy, Romania & all over the United States. Here are some stunning Airbnb locations that you can check out, just click type in the location name and choose your dates!
The beauty about Airbnb’s is that they are all so unique. And 9 times out of 10 there is an Airbnb that will fit your budget in the city you want to travel to. Create a list of your favorites and refer back to them for future retreats!
Don’t sleep on Airbnb experiences either! There could be some experiences that pair really well with your retreat intention. For example, if you want to rest and rejuvenate – perhaps book a yoga experience through the Airbnb app. If you want to explore a new culture, try booking a cooking class. There are so many options at your fingertips. Let me know how it goes!
Have you ever watched the movie The Holiday (2006) with Cameron Diaz and Kate Winslet? In the movie two women agree to swap houses for a couple of weeks. One woman lives in California and the other in a small English village. I love the idea of house swapping with someone you trust!
Perhaps you have a close friend or relative that is open to you posting up in their guest suite, or swapping houses with you one weekend so you can both have a personal retreat for yourselves.
Worth an ask. Bonus points if you have a friend who lives abroad!
I believe that you can achieve the powerful intention that you’ve set for yourself, no matter which location you choose.
The rest of this comprehensive guide will walk you through exactly how to turn any location, no matter how ordinary it may seem, into an extraordinary and sacred space for restoration, healing and growth. Just keep following along! I’ve got you.
“You are a powerful co-creator. You have the authority to turn an ordinary space into a sacred one.” – Anastasia Jones
This step is probably my favorite. I love this step like I love a big bowl of guacamole and a salty bag of tortilla chips.
Choose 2 to 4 spaces where you intend to spend most of your time during the retreat. Often, these spaces will seem ordinary to you, but you have the power to transform them into sacred spaces simply by shifting your perspective and amplifying your level of presence in that space.
For example, the 4 sacred spaces I chose for my at home weekend writing retreat are:
Now, these are places I spend time quite often. Places some would consider “ordinary.” But I know that when I set the intention, take time to prepare my space, sit at my desk and dedicate my full-self to create a work of art; my desk transforms into a sacred space. And the words that I write while at my desk become more than just words – they become a light. A light that I pray will guide others as they create sacred spaces for themselves over the years to come.
Once you’ve chosen your sacred space – it’s time to tidy it up! Perhaps you clear off your desk, place a candle, oil diffuser, notepad and an inspiring book on it.
Oh – don’t forget the water!
Each sacred space can be equipped with the things you’ll need to be fully present.
Remember to turn off any unnecessary technology and create a safe space for yourself to simply be. Allow your full presence the opportunity to show up and co-create a powerful personal retreat with you. You’ll be shocked at how far your highest self and the divine will go to co-create the intention you’ve set for your retreat experience.
Now that you have your sacred spaces ready to go, let’s do some light preparation.
“Success is when preparation meets opportunity” – Zig Zigler
Have you bookmarked this GUIDE yet? Now is the time. Here I’ll help you WIN BIG by sharing the insights you’ll need to prepare for a successful personal retreat. Don’t let this list intimidate you.
Whether you can do one or all of these things, it will be worth it.
For at home retreats I like to have a plan for each meal. I’ll typically write down what I want to eat during those days and prep food ahead of time so it’s ready to go when I need it. Whether I’m staying at a home or in a hotel I’ll pack snacks and a bottle of wine to enjoy during my retreat. Don’t forget to pick up a fresh pack of water!
I can’t tell you how much this simple act helps me. I don’t know what it is about having my car washed and cleaned out before I embark on a solo retreat, but it does my energy a world of good! It’s the best feeling knowing that when I do choose to re-enter society again, getting back into my car won’t feel so crunchy (literally). So whether it’s your car, or folding your laundry, do at least one thing that you know will make you happy to see at close of your retreat.
I know I’ve said this a few times now, but – IT’S SO IMPORTANT THAT YOU HAVE MORE THAN ENOUGH WATER WHEN YOU ARE ON A RETREAT! Do your best to stay hydrated. Place three or more water bottles at each sacred space location around the house/hotel room and drink up buttercup!
Writing is a spiritual practice for me. It has helped me integrate my spiritual gifts and work through life experiences in a positive way. The ability to reframe difficult situations through writing has become my competitive advantage in life, and for that I am profoundly grateful. I recommend having a journal and pen dedicated to your retreat weekend. Something you can look back on and read down the road. Or take with you on each personal retreat you have. Oftentimes powerful insights emerge from this sacred time that you really won’t want to forget about.
Some of my favorite mentors and teachers are authors that I’ve never met in-person. There is something powerful about having a stack of books nearby while you’re working on a creative project during your personal retreat. It’s something I do during writing retreats that encourages me to continue offering my gifts to the world. Choose books that you can read or reference during your retreat.
Write a few love letters to yourself then sprinkle those words around your sacred spaces. When you catch the words out of the corner of your eye, allow them to sink in. Remind yourself of who you are and why you chose the brave path by planning a personal retreat for yourself. Honor the person who wrote you that love letter through unapologetic, loving action. Remember retreat & rest is a revolution!
Check your calendar and make sure you are available during the days of your retreat. The worst thing is having something scheduled on a retreat day that throws off my flow. Or having the thought in the back of your mind like you should be somewhere else, doing something else. You deserve to be fully present during your personal retreat. Protect this time. It’s sacred.
PS. If you do feel in your spirit that you need a retreat weekend, but you notice there is a previous engagement on your calendar. I challenge you to prioritize your spiritual and emotional health by communicating your needs to that individual(s) and offering to reschedule for another time that works better for you both. Always look for a win-win. Trust me. I know it can seem overwhelming having conversations like that, but I’ve seen women NOT take time for themselves in a season where they really needed to prioritize their health. So have grace with yourself! There is so much grace for you.
With that said, oftentimes we assume that a personal retreat can’t involve a single ounce of human interaction and that’s simply not true. The right interpersonal experiences can be a great addition to a personal retreat! Now is a great time to book any meditations, workshops or private sessions that you’d like to attend during the retreat. As long as these encounters remain true to your intention.
For example, if your weekend retreat is focused on restoration then schedule a virtual meditation or yoga class to do one afternoon. Perhaps you’re planning a writing retreat, like mine is, then perhaps you can register for a virtual masterclass taught by your favorite author to learn more about the craft one afternoon. These experiences could add to your retreat experience in a powerful way. Definitely worth exploring, just keep the main thing, the main thing – your self-care.
“Your retreat map is only a blueprint. You are the architect.”
Sacred spaces. Set.
Now that you’ve built the foundation for your personal retreat, it’s time to build your schedule! I call this process retreat mapping, and I’ll share with you my system. Feel free to tweak it and make it your own.
First, open your calendar so you can see your availability hour-by-hour. Then begin adding “blocks” to your retreat days. I use a combination of FOCUS TIME BLOCKS, SPIRITUAL BLOCKS, BREAK BLOCKS, CELEBRATION BLOCKS when building my unique retreat schedule.
These blocks are 2 to 3 hours long and dedicated to whatever objective that is directly tied to your intention. For example, during my writing retreat each focus block was dedicated to writing various sections of my ULTIMATE GUIDE TO PLANNING PERSONAL RETREATS. If your intention is to have a yoga retreat, you could use that focus time block to do yoga training. As long as what you’re doing during your focus time ties directly back to your intention, you’re great!
This is an intentional time for you to connect with God. Connect with center. Meditate. Breathe. Journal. Connect with the divine. A personal retreat requires space to be present and really feel what’s there, inside and around you. I always include spiritual practice blocks in the morning, and sometimes in the evening as well. I typically light candles and play soft music in the background while I am engaging in my spiritual practice. This block of time can look different for everyone. Make it your own!
I created a list of 50 questions to reignite your creativity. Download them all here and use them as journal prompts during your spiritual blocks.
These blocks are placed after every focus time. They can range from 1 to 2 hours long. In the afternoon my 2 hour break block is for eating lunch, going on a walk, or taking a dip in the pool (told you I loved amenities). Sometimes I use that break block to take a nap or go on a hike. The sky’s the limit! As long as it gives you time to take a break from focus time and rejuvenate in some way.
WHERE ARE MY PARTY PEOPLE!!! I love to plan a celebration for myself at the end of each retreat day. Whether it’s with wine, candles, an inspirational movie or grabbing drinks with girlfriends on the final night of my personal retreats. Let us not forget the importance of celebrating our efforts and prioritizing FUN! That’s what it’s all about, right friends?!
So, now that you have the building blocks for a successful personal retreat at home or hotel, here are some examples for how to build with them. Remember, you are the architect (hence the blocks), so build the experience works for you and switch up what doesn’t.
Schedule this spiritual practice block after the final focus time block on your retreat map. This spiritual block is similar to a ‘closing ceremony’ of sorts.
AND BOOM-SHAKA-LAKA! You did it!
I can’t tell you how proud I am of you for making it this far in the PERSONAL RETREAT guide! Please pat yourself on the back. If I were there I’d pat you on the back myself! You truly are remarkable!
I’ve written an entire bonus section to help you work through retreat mindset shifts! This last section could single-handedly be the greatest gift I could ever give to you. I hope you feel the love through each mindset and affirmation shared.
“You are a spiritual being having a human experience” – Unknown
I’m a huge fan of context, so here’s a little backstory.
While brainstorming and researching for this personal retreat guide, I realized there was a very large content gap in the PERSONAL RETREAT space. There were plenty of personal retreat checklists, but next to no information on how to prepare spiritually and mentally for a personal retreat.
It’s an important gap that I want to acknowledge and provide some wisdom and insight on based upon my very personal experiences during my retreats.
Everyone’s experiences with personal retreats are different, but I have a feeling that one or more of these tips will resonate with you in a powerful way. My ultimate hope is that these mindsets and affirmations help you feel seen. And give you the tools to navigate your retreat with joy.
Retreats have a way of revealing for healing.
Literally do not worry or become anxious. It is as it should be. If you’re “behind schedule” flow with it. Receive it. Breathe deeply through it and literally open your body to it by sitting up or standing up straight, shoulders back and down and hands up to the sky in surrender. Do this for as long as you need to. Repeat “I am right on time. It is as it should be.”
You are exactly where you need to be. You ARE your highest self. Your past does not inform you identity and your future does not inform your fulfillment. Be present and find joy in this sacred moment. You have the power to make any space into a sacred one simply by being fully present in it. Remember that.
If something in your “plan” isn’t happening like you thought it would, flow with it. Get curious and see what comes of this new schedule. I do it often. It takes the pressure off and oftentimes it makes sense later on.
Your highest self is not “far off.” Your highest self isn’t playing “hide and seek” with you. Your highest self is you. Your personal retreat may lead you on a journey, but no matter where it takes you always remember – you are seen. You are found. You were never lost. Simply return to love and take your place.
Emotions are a part of the human experience. As you connect with yourself on a deeper spiritual level, allow your body grace to navigate those emotions. While you are experiencing those emotions, know that those emotions do NOT define your soul’s identity. You are not your fear. You are not your anxiety. You are not your pain. You are love. Also, never hesitate to seek the help of a counselor or therapist. I highly recommend that level of support and take full advantage of it myself.
It looks different for everyone. Again, give yourself so much grace here. Download these 50 Questions to Reignite Your Creativity & use during your personal retreat!
Visualize a bubble around you, locking in that positive energy. Now imagine that every other type of energy someone tries to send your way simply slips right off of the bubble. Your retreat weekend is a sacred time. Protect that space.
We tend to hold our breath subconsciously when we want to “freeze time” or feel “in control.” Try taking a very deep breath. If you just did, and thought to yourself “Wow! When was the last time I took a conscious breath like that?” I get it. The moment you feel yourself holding your breath, or folding your body inward, simply take 3 consecutive deep breaths and begin slowly unfolding your body. Open up your heart. Stand up taller. Sit up straighter. Open your hands, pointing palms toward the sky in surrender. Smile! The ego is a funny thing, and all of these body movements and nonverbal cues signal to your mind that you’re safe.
“You are a spiritual being having a human experience” – Unknown
YOU DID IT! You made it to the end of this comprehensive PERSONAL RETREAT guide. I am so stinkin’ proud of you!
I’ve been thinking of what parting words I can leave you with as you embark on your own personal retreat experience, and these are the three words on my spirit to share.
One of the most powerful lessons I’ve learned is this: In the pursuit of our divine calling, we need no new thing.
See how an ordinary pumpkin was suddenly transformed into a beautiful carriage, and carried Cinderella all the way to the ball!
In the same way, as you live out your divine calling and further embrace your personal power
Take your place. Today. Right now. And every day hereafter.
You have all that you need in this present moment to do what you’ve been divinely inspired to do. You need no new thing.
You are powerful! And you begin to own your power when you return to love. It’s time to take your place.
Let’s connect on Instagram: @anastasiarjd