Last month, the Piedmont Women’s Heart Program hosted the "Fall into Wholeness" retreat. The Piedmont Women’s Heart Program is a holistic wellness program that aims to prevent the onset and support those with cardiovascular disease through high-caliber education and wellness coaching.
It was a beautiful, sunny but chilly morning. Fall was in the air. The sun’s rays felt good yet lacked the intensity of the typical Georgia heat. It was a delightfully late start to the day. Our event was planned to commence at 9:30 AM.
I headed to the new location – the Piedmont Heart of Perimeter building. Ample parking and quietness on a Saturday morning. I took the elevator to an open area surrounded by glass windows and drenched in the sunshine – the perfect setting for the event which was about to unfold.
Our Piedmont hosts – Robin and Avril – greeted me with a warm hug and a big smile. The ladies had ensured the area was set up, cozy, and ready for activities to begin.
I had the pleasure of co-leading this retreat with Dr. Shereen Amria, Doctor of Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine (DACM), Licensed Acupuncturist (L.AC), and owner of Optimal Health and Acupuncture.
Dr. Amria covered the impact of seasonal and emotional energy change with the transition of seasons.
To summarize her presentation, Dr. Amria states: "Eastern Medicine prepares your body to transition to a new season. Each season has its own emotion and is associated with an internal organ. Those emotions can affect the body's circulation and direction of energy (Qi).
The fall season is associated with grief and sadness. Fall is the best time to let go of unwanted behavior or lasting grief. Acupuncture, Eastern nutrition, and breathing exercises help the body balance, ease the process of letting go, and reach optimal health in the fall season."
As a mind-body coach, I spoke about the implications of sadness and grief on your body and overall state. I introduced techniques to create awareness and facilitate the release of emotions that do not serve your well-being – the key to maintaining wellness.
The emotions of sadness and grief are both low vibrational. They carry dense and heavy energy. They fatigue the body. The body may feel achy, in pain, and stiff. The muscles may be tight. Hence, mobility may be impacted. The breath is likely shallow, and shallow breath produces tightness, especially in the shoulders and neck area. Headaches, digestive issues, sleep disturbance, lowered immunity, and increased inflammation are all possible. Mental focus and concentration are likely impacted. Over time, the implications of unmanaged chronic low-vibrational state and associated implications may lead to disease, which is why self-care is instrumental for maintaining good health.
The Rebellious mind-body portion of the retreat aimed to create keen awareness around the emotions each participant is experiencing, how these emotions impact her body, leverage movement, meditation, and journaling as tools to release the emotions – key for elevating the vibrations, restoring and rejuvenating.
To quiet the mind and calm the nervous system, we started class by bringing awareness to the breath and began taking full inhales and exhales through lateral breathing, a form of breathing leveraged in Pilates.
Once a rhythm of breath was established, we proceeded to get into alignment. This step of the process was aimed to create mind-body awareness while continuously staying tuned to the self and the breath, as well as position the body into physical homeostasis, as possible, in preparation for movement.
Your physical, mental, emotional, and/or spiritual alignment is off when your baseline is off. Many today have no idea what being in any alignment even means.
And then the movement flow began. We did a series of super simple yet very intentional exercises. The goal was to move from the physical core and loosen up the body while moving to the rhythm of the breath and with full intent as to how each move was executed.
The room was quiet. One could only hear breathing and cues prompting movement. The sun’s rays were calming. The focus was at its peak.
Midway through the concentrated and therapeutic movement, one of the participants burst out laughing. The entire room paused and looked at her.
"I am so sorry. I am trying to keep up. We barely move, and I am having trouble paying attention and staying on top of all the little details."
The rest of the class started laughing in agreement.
I commented: "You have no idea how frequently people are challenged by maintaining mind-body awareness, intent, and control over their bodies. It looks so easy, but anyone who has tried it appreciates the physical and mental intensity required."
Refocused, we continued. The entire movement lasted maybe 15 minutes. Without speaking, we moved to phare II – brief guided meditation aimed to create awareness of what each body experiences and where in the body the experience is.
Swiftly and lastly, we moved on to phase III – journaling on the topic of: what are you experiencing in your body and where?
While I am a fan of all the work to get to the final step, the last stage of this type of retreat - the open conversation amongst participants – is probably my favorite. Usually, a brave soul or two open up and share vulnerable insights. This liberates other participants and grants them the courage to share as well.
Without sharing much detail, the most profound discoveries for people are: wow, I thought I was tired, but I had no idea how stressed I was. In my experience, people are so used to chronic stress that they consider it normal. Tuning into the body and creating awareness around its state create foundational awareness to (hopefully) drive change.
As usual, post-retreat, a few participants poured their hearts out. I am always amazed by the healing power of this profound work. It fuels me to see people soften, let go, and embrace grace and self-compassion. Authentic connection, calmness, the change of vibes in the entire room, and big-bear hugs make my heart smile.
Participants were encouraged to take it easy and nurture themselves with rest, outdoor time, quality time, nourishing food, hydration, and any other self-care in their own tool kit.
Calm, heartfelt, authentic, powerful, transformational – an empowering experience.
I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity to attend the Piedmont Women’s Heart Program, a free program that relies on philanthropic support to promote equity and access for all women.
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