by Ruth Woudstra

“I don’t actually need to go on this retreat,” I told myself. “I am sorted in life.” I had recently started doing yoga teacher training and had just completed Reiki Level One, both of which had filled me with inspiration to carry me into the new year.

December Moon at TRC

Fortunately, the fact that I had already paid the balance for Lucy Draper-Clarke and Felicity Hart’s “Releasing the Year with Mindful Awareness” retreat gave my ego a go. And a few hours into the retreat I was humbled into discovering that it was something I, in actual fact, desperately needed.

Self-acceptance has been an ongoing theme in my life. The problem is that I have never really been aware of it; I have never really acknowledged it. Since being a teenager, I have been obsessed with the superficial issue of how I look, how much I weigh, how big my thighs are. The most obvious solutions: slimming diets and increased exercise dealt temporarily with the symptom, but never with the cause. Even attempts at psychotherapy, mind coaching and meditation were approached from the wrong angle: that of needing to lose weight in order to feel better.

When Lucy asked us to state our intention on the first evening of the December 2nd retreat, I knew that it was finally time to deal with the root issue. The issue was self loathing, and a simple inability to accept myself as I am. To accept that the shell I have been gifted with on this earth was given to me with a purpose, and that it is not my place to question or reject it.

Retreat Facilitators: Felicity Hart and Lucy Draper-Clarke

My intention became that of self-acceptance – an intention that was repeated throughout the retreat thanks to Lucy’s quiet persistence. The combination of yoga, meditation and process work by both Lucy and Felicity, resulted in quite a dramatic change within me. It came in a way that was completely unexpected.

You see, I have always wanted to write for a magazine. Even as a trained journalist, I, with all my unrealistic expectations and tendencies to perfectionism, have struggled to ‘put myself out there’ because I have simply been too critical of anything that emanated from my pen.

However, the Sunday night after the retreat, I woke up at 01:30am with a burning need to write about my experience. Later that day, I typed it out, sent it to Lucy and Felicity, and within the same day, submitted it to a national women’s magazine. For the first time in my life, I was able to release a story that was still imperfect in many ways, and send it to a publication without fear of the editor’s reaction. I was nervous – very nervous! But I did it. Or rather, as I realised afterwards, the Divine did it through me. 

And, apparently the Divine wanted the article to be published too. It was accepted by the magazine to be published in the new year. Of course, I will only believe it once I see it in print. But ultimately, the end result is irrelevant. The process was one in which I learned many invaluable lessons. Lessons about trust and faith and listening to your gut feeling. But most importantly, the lesson that I am never too “sorted” not to learn anything new, and not to relax and release through retreat activities that are beneficial – and vital – to my body and soul.

Releasing the Year with Mindful Awareness Retreat – left to right: Ruth (author), Rika, Felicity, Lucy, Merle and Melissa