In June 2017 I attended my first ever retreat with a group of nine other women. The retreat was held in San Juan, Puerto Rico and was organized by my kindred writer, yogi soul-friend Chrissann Nickel. To be honest, I was tentative about the retreat, which I go into a little more detail in my article The Sisterhood of Island Women, which was published soon after the retreat completed.
I’ve always been a bit of an outsider. I do my best to semi-conform to the molds of society, all the while, staying just outside the theoretical lines we are supposed to color within. Sometimes, my resistance to conforming comes across as brattiness, sometimes aloofness, and sometimes withdrawal from conversation. I’m often guarded, and it takes a lot for me to let my walls down in social situations.
On this trip, ten like-minded writers who were working on their own branding, who also lived on islands, opened me up to the world of the tribe. These days, it’s so easy to connect with other profile photos on a computer screen. There are endless Facebook groups for whatever oddity interests you. Those of us that are solopreneurs, spending endless hours in front of our computer screens (writers, graphic artists, brand managers, content marketers, etc), may be content with solitude and e-connections, creating our tribe virtually. We may even become so accustomed to living online that we forget to take time to connect on a person-to-person level.
But it’s those one-on-one and group connections that are essential to our being. Our energies are all connected on this beautiful planet, and the closer we can be within another person’s energetic field, the more we can begin to share ideas, radiate positive energy, and support each other with loving-kindness in both conscious and subconscious ways.
I read recently that you are the average of the five people that are closest to you — you are as happy as they are, as wealthy as they are, etc. Makes sense, right? You all draw off each other’s energy. This is what I ended up finding out on my retreat. Maybe my retreat tribe didn’t end up being the five closest people to me in my daily life, but we were all on the same frequency, and who wouldn’t want to be on the same frequency of those that inspire and motivate you? How can that possibly not make you a better person?
Throughout my first retreat, I couldn’t help but to slowly let my thick walls down. These women extracted who I am, who I wanted to become, and gave me support in the kindest and gentlest of ways. It was exactly what I had no idea that I needed.
The stronger spirits among us attempt to carry along in the world alone, but what’s the point? We all have strengths and weaknesses, and when we join together, we are able to use all of our shoulders to carry the load of life. Some carry a heavier load at times, and then the load shifts when the time is right. It all evens out over the long term, if we allow space for the tribe to establish solid foundations.
Being a part of a successful tribe is about showing up for others when they need you, and speaking up when you need others to show up for you. We also have to allow ourselves to be nurtured, which can be difficult in our “we can do it” and “I got this” society. It can be humbling. But it can also allow for some of the most kindred connections you’ll ever make.
Where to find your tribe?
In your community, no matter how small, you’re likely to find a place that you can organically connect with like-minded people. Even on my small island, I’m constantly amazed how many people I am able to create new connections with. I’ve even connected with people I’ve casually known for a long time, suddenly realizing we have the same strange interests that we normally wouldn’t discuss in day-to-day conversation.
In my small island community, I’ve seen lectures by renowned meditation teacher and alternative medicine advocate Deepak Chopra and scientist and author Joe Dispenza, I’ve been to a kirtan concert by Krishna Das, I did my 200 hour yoga teacher training, I’ve joined Goddess Circles, I’ve been to book signings, film festivals, reggae and jazz concerts, meditation workshops, and animal rescue fundraisers. The list could go on. If you start to frequent events that draw others interested in the same subject, there can be endless opportunities to connect with other like-minds within your local community.
If you’re specifically interested in a certain topic and don’t feel like your local community supports it, consider a retreat, workshop or a training outside your community.
If you’re interested in traveling for a retreat, remember that there’s something for everyone, no matter how niche your interests are – foreign language, compute science, quantum theory, energy medicine, meditation…truly anything! Whatever you’re into, I guarantee there’s probably a retreat, workshop or training for it.
Of course, I was tentative about the costs associated with going on a retreat. Is this frivolous? Am I being too reckless and carefree? But I’m quickly learning that no amount of money can possibly exchange for the experiences that I’ve gotten out of my first retreat, and all my retreats since then.
I just returned from a life-changing retreat in Costa Rica. My husband and I went together for a deep healing, plant medicine retreat that, at the time of booking we were aghast of the cost. We hemmed and hawed about it for months before finally giving in to booking. After we returned (as completely new human beings, in fact), we are now making a list of things we feel like we can give up (including the thousands of dollars we spend on alcohol every year) so we can go back. We both agreed that we’d pay even more for the experience - it was that worth it.
There are some things in life that just don’t seem to match a price tag. If you’re feeling called to finding your tribe in a retreat setting and you’re hesitant because of the cost, consider the ways in which you will grow and change, and in which you will blossom and become.
How to stay connected with your tribe?
So you may have met the ideal tribe, but how do you stay connected. It’s always, “let’s get together soon!” and then it doesn’t happen. I suggest really putting a valiant effort to organize a weekly, bi-weekly or monthly gathering. Something that happens even if all members can’t be present. Maybe it’s happy hour, maybe it’s going to a yoga class, or a walk on the beach, a spa day, game night, book club, meet-up for coffee, progressive potluck dinners, whatever! It can be as intricate or minimalist as you decide, but I suggest being minimalist so it will readily keep you coming back for more. If it’s a group of people that you met on a retreat, stay connected with a Whatsapp or Facebook group, and try to organize a yearly reconnection.
We had started a Whatsapp group and Facebook page for our first group retreat, which we are still carrying on to this day. We are all there to support one another through our challenges and achievements. And even if we don’t see each other for extended periods of time, whenever we reunite, it’s like nothing has ever changed. You know those types of friends, right? The same thing happened with our Costa Rica retreat, and our Whatsapp and Facebook groups are currently chattering away.
Just remember, when the retreat is over and you go back to your normal lives, it doesn’t mean the connections are over. There are people in this lifetime that you are destined to meet when the time is right. And those people will stay with you forever.
I’ve been so excited about the benefits of the retreats I’ve attended, that Chrissann Nickel and I have joined together to host a writing and yoga retreat here in the Bahamas in May 2019. I am so looking forward to creating a space to connect with other like-minded souls. Visit my Retreat page for more info.