As our first season of Riboudin Retreats comes to a close I wanted to reflect on our experience of the adventure.
We welcomed our first guests and any beginners nerves, on both sides, soon disappeared. For many of our visitors, their stay with us was their first introduction to Mindfulness based meditation, I started this project wanting to share the benefits of this practice with others and I couldn’t have been happier with the feedback and response from our guests. People came to the end of their retreats feeling happier, less stressed and more energized, our feed back has been delightful, the most rewarding for me being that people felt inspired and shared that they were taking away new skills that they wanted to implement into their lives.
There were so many elements in the week that surprised me, inspired me and truly made me smile. Every day we practiced a Mindfulness of breath exercise, although there are other meditations that I really love, there is something about the Mindfulness of breath practice that is always so revealing and I’m always amazed by how much it differs everytime. One element that I truly loved and want to develop further was the introduction of a gratitude journal, we tried to surprise our guests with little gifts and treats throughout the week, the first of which was their own journal...more on this later, but for now I’m just going to say that I never realised how much joy our little chickens running around in the garden brought. Another of my favourite practices that we included was a mindful awareness exercise where we gave ourselves a hand massage with vervaine essential oils, this scent is my favourite but Frankie can’t get over thinking that it smells like lime startburst and wanting to go and buy sweets.
It was such a pleasure to share the practices that I love and find so truly beneficial in my life with others and this experience was even more special because I got to do it in my home. I’m already Looking forward to next years retreats which will be starting in the spring. This is a magical time of year when the daffodills and bluebells in the garden, carpet the woodland with colour and perfume. We made the most of the setting here this year with meditations on the cliff tops and visits to the local French food market. One of our visitors brought me the most amazing bunch of yellow sunflowers at the market as a thank you, it was so unexpected and really made me smile.
I have loved morning and evening yoga, Frankie has been an excellent teacher, patient, kind and a joy to listen to...my thigh muscles have worked and my core although not like steel has improved. Who would have thought you could fall asleep listening to Tibetan bowls singing around your head and body, the vibration they create is powerful, I was transported to the mountains of the Himalayas.
An unexpected highlight has been the amount of wonderful feedback about our food on the retreat. All our meals are vegetarian or vegan and we use as much of our home grown fruit and vegetables as possible. I know that I am happiest outdoors foraging, everything from wild garlic leaves that I make into pesto in the early spring through to sweet chestnuts which I make into soup in the autumn. Our food has been so popular we have been asked on more than one occasion to produce a Riboudin cookery book, I love this idea! It is certainly a project to be working on over the winter.
For me my top highlights included evening meditations high up on the cliffs of Étretat being buffered by the wind, the vast expance of sea, connected with the earth and seagulls flying over head, truly awesome.
Our visitors were so lovely, thank you, I was happy that you felt truly inspired after spending the week with us and moved at the tears of joy and gratitude as people left, I am truly humbled.
Thank you to all the amazing people who have walked into my life this year at Riboudin Retreats and made it better.