I was fortunate enough to spend a recent day and a half at a holistic wellness retreat. It was exactly what I needed: some “me time,” time out in nature and a chance to slow down, step back from all my stresses, and reflect on my life, present and future.
I won the chance to attend this retreat through Labor-Management Healthcare Fund. They host various retreats annually at Beaver Hollow Conference Center, which is roughly 45 minutes from Buffalo, NY. I’ve actually never entered before and was pleasantly surprised when I learned that I’d won this one! Everything was included and best of all, free!
When I arrived on Monday morning, bright and early, we checked into the program as well as our room for the days/night. We also received an InBody scan, which basically involves standing on a scale-type machine for about three minutes; the result is a report that tells you about the distribution of your muscle mass, the water in your body and more. It’s actually interesting stuff – it’s always neat to learn more about our bodies and how they work.
The rest of the day was filled with workshops and classes to teach us about various aspects of holistic wellness. From reflecting on the balance of different parts of our lives (physical, mental, social, spiritual, vocational, etc.), to learning about different kinds of teas and what they can be good for — to a workshop on reflexology and another on healthy sleep! We also had a midday yoga class that incorporated essential oils, and open gym/pool time. Meals were also included and were, naturally, healthy, from the salmon at dinner to lots of salad to the carrot-apple cake which was to die for! (And only 175 calories per slice, if you care about that sort of thing).
P.S. Here is a great piece on the eight pillars of holistic wellness.
We were scheduled to end the night with a massage, but unfortunately, the massage therapist had a family emergency. I settled for a cold eucalyptus towel to soothe my aching back and a few minutes in the massage chair, which still felt great. I also got to enjoy some time out by the lake – with the perfect weather! – and smores and a bonfire to cap things off.
(And then, because I’m still me, I finished the night in my room, watching hockey on TV.)
The second day began with yoga at 8 am and breakfast shortly after. We then had more classes on resetting your body for sleep, natural nutrition, and essential oils, with a healthy cooking demo and lunch in between. Also on the schedule was a ‘mindful mile’ walk around the premises, but we had to cancel that since it wouldn’t stop raining. The retreat wrapped up with a closing program – where I actually won the door prize, an essential oil diffuser! (I already have a Young Living diffuser in my bedroom but will gladly add this one to my parlor!)
Overall, I really enjoyed my time at the holistic wellness retreat.
I feel like I definitely learned some skills that I can apply to my life going forward; now, it’s up to me to actually do it. This retreat also gave me a chance to unplug a lot, which I think is something I really needed. It was a reminder to step back and enjoy more of what life has to offer, especially away from the screen; to engage in face-to-face conversations, focus more on eating my meal than taking a photo of it, and being in the moment instead of being just on my phone. It’s something I’ve been working on anyways!
To me, holistic wellness isn’t something that’s an either/or with what is traditionally considered Western medicine. To me, the two should ideally go hand-in-hand. You’ll never catch me skipping a critical vaccination or surgery in favor of an essential oil or a food – but I do think essential oils, proper nutrition, yoga, etc. can help balance the body, boost our health and support our health so that we hopefully don’t have a headache that requires medication, or weight issues that lead to real medical problems, or the like. I don’t think we should be popping pills for every little ailment, but at the same time, I recognize that there are times we have to!
Here’s a little more on the intersection of holistic and Western medicine:
“Practitioners who blend these two approaches offer natural treatments to promote holistic healing whenever possible, but will still rely on conventional medicine when it’s warranted. By approaching patients’ conditions with this multifaceted lens, they can deliver tailored solutions for both common health issues as well as more complex problems. Moreover, a combination of Eastern and Western medicinal approaches afford patients the broadest access to solutions. Instead of focusing on alleviating a symptom, this all-encompassing approach lets practitioners provide solutions designed to heal the body and mind. They also address the root cause of illness by ensuring optimal energy flow, allowing patients to achieve long-term mental, physical, and emotional wellness.”