Arts Education - Art of Living Retreat Center

The Importance of Arts Education

By Neve Spicer
June 14, 2018
Arts Education - Art of Living Retreat Center

It’s no secret that learning and experiencing the Arts benefits us in a profound way. Indeed, 93% of parents consider Arts Education to be a vital ingredient in the healthy development of their children. It’s easy to see why with this visual guide by



So why then are the Arts being squeezed out of our education system?


The reason is that schools are under intense pressure to focus their dwindling resources on “academic” subjects. Sadly, this means that Arts Education is being positioned on the chopping block.


In a bid to save the Arts, educators are attempting to show that learning arts enhance academic outcomes. While this is great (and, indeed, there is some evidence to show that they do), it is an approach that misses the point. The purpose of Arts Education isn’t simply to boost academic results. No. Being immersed in arts has a myriad of positive benefits that reach far beyond maths and English.


It’s essential to reframe the debate about arts in schools by arguing for the many “non-academic” benefits that the arts bestow upon children and young people.


Kids immersed in arts get to experience the world, and themselves, in a different way; one that cultivates cognitive abilities, nurtures positive character traits, and fosters critical thinking. It also has a huge positive impact on their happiness and wellbeing. Put simply, children who take part in Arts Education are more likely to grow into well-rounded, culturally open, thoughtful, and confident adults.


Scientific studies struggle to capture these subtle yet powerful effects. This lack of hard empirical evidence shouldn’t be a reason to drop the arts from schools. It does mean, though, that everybody who has experienced the positive and transformative impact of the arts needs to speak up and make their voice heard. This way, together, we can strengthen the case for arts in education.


Let’s be bold telling our stories. Let’s shout about the way arts have changed our lives for the better. It’s vital that we pass this gift on to the new generation of children. After all, we need art in the world as much as them.


Neve Spicer is a mom and blogger looking for simplicity, meaning, and humor in parenting. Together with her partner, Keane, she runs Neve and Keane are ex-teachers and project managers who get obssessed with researching and writing precisely. They love to get nerdy, testing and reviewing the gear that moms and dads (apparently) need.


Read more on the importance of arts education at 


Interested in learning more about Ayurveda and the programs at the Art of Living Retreat Center? Check out our annual catalog here!


Yoga Retreat Catalog for NC

TAGS: arts , childhood , creativity , education , mindfulness , wellness
Art of Living - Creative Writing

In House: Eric Maisel on Criticism & Creativity in Writing

December 18, 2017

Art of Living - Creative Writing

Eric Maisel is a Creativity Coach and author who’s been working with writers for 30 years. This summer, he hosted the Deep Writing Workshop at the Art of Living Retreat Center, where writers of all experience levels relearned how to prioritize and develop their creativity in a supportive, quiet space.

A different kind of writing group

The Deep Writing Retreat is very simple in structure. Eric provides a series of lessons, as well as a safe space — there’s no critiquing or sharing of the writing that is created.


“A lot of people come for that reason alone,” Eric says. “They know they’re not going to have their writing shredded by somebody else on the spot. There’s also plenty of time to write, and not on writing exercises that go nowhere, but on their own projects. Many attendees have a project that they’re working on. This is an opportunity to get a lot of writing done in a safe environment, and also learn lessons that they can take back and continue to implement when they’re back home.”


About 15 years ago, Eric was invited to teach a writer’s workshop, and his group shared the space with another writer’s course. He noticed how much critiquing and unhappiness was happening in the other group; tears and feuds and everything he knew he didn’t want in a writing workshop. Observing that group, Eric saw how the idea of sharing and critiquing in the moment doesn’t really support one’s intention to have a good experience and get a lot of writing done.


According to Eric, many writers don’t understand the extent to which anxiety and existential despair gets in the way of writing, especially when they feel blocked. He crafted his workshops with this in mind, and has been leading groups with compassion, respect, and space for over 15 years.


What is deep writing?

Deep writing is simply getting quiet enough to write. “If we get quiet enough, we go deep from a physiological standpoint, and we get our whole brain back,” Eric says. Our minds are always on the go, and not just figuratively. Each thought takes up thousands of neurons, and when you’ve got a lot of your mind, it’s very difficult to find the brain space in which to be creative.


“One of the main things I help writers understand is why they want to get quiet. This is different from meditating, but not unrelated. This is quiet for the sake of generating ideas; it’s quiet with the purpose of allowing something to bubble up. When you get quiet, you have that experience of silence in which ideas are born, and that’s the depth of the workshop.”

Deepening your writing practice often has the effect of deepening your life as well. If you’re a writer, and you’re not making time for your writing, it’s easy to become disappointed in yourself and with life in general. Joining a workshop, especially one in which you can give your writing a depth of attention that’s almost impossible in the business of day to day life, helps you do the wonderful, existential work of living your life’s purpose.

“I found the Art of Living Retreat Center quiet in a way I’ve never experienced quiet before. Everyone felt very productive in the silence. The place is beautiful, the food is wonderful, and the service is great. It’s been a wonderful experience here.”

Letting your voice ring out

Most people have a voice, or wish they had a voice with which to express themselves. Most of blockage, according to Eric, is self-censorship. Speaking your truth is difficult, whether you’re a writer, an activist, a teacher, or even just initiating a difficult conversation. This is all the same process. The process by which we can let our voice ring out involves getting quiet, being courageous, preparing ourselves, and then actually speaking.

“A lot of the workshop is about eliminating excuses that people have. I think  many find it to be a profound experience, a life-changing experience. I very often get mail from a person long after they’ve taken the workshop, telling me their book is finished or that it’s been published, and that it was the workshop that made the difference.”

Are your thoughts serving you?

Eric also tells us that we need to think the thoughts that will serve us. The biggest creative blocker is the way we talk to ourselves. If we say “I’m not talented”, or “there’s too much competition,” or even things like “I’m too tired to write, I’m too busy”, we won’t get our creative purpose off the ground, or our other purposes as well. The most important element is the cognitive work of making sure that you think thoughts that serve you.

Interested in learning more about Ayurveda and the programs at the Art of Living Retreat Center? Check out our annual catalog here!

Yoga Retreat Catalog for NC

TAGS: art of living , art of living retreat center , creativity , criticism , eric maisel , writing
Art of Living Journeys

Art of Living Journeys: Lillian’s Creative Spirit

September 18, 2017

Art of Living Journeys

Lillian Bijoux, an artist and singer-songwriter, describes her experience with the Art of Living Happiness Program as something that moves and and inspires her creative spirit.


Lillian remembers feeling free and open as a child, unrestricted by her mother’s admonishments to “be like everyone else.” However, with the death of her father, she buried her free and loving spirit, leaving her severely depressed as a single mom of four. Bijoux first opened her heart again with a dear friend’s support, which was a turning point that began her journey towards returning to her naturally passionate, spirited self. Here’s a bit of her account of her experiences with the SKY meditation offered by Art of Living and IAHV:


A Newfound Sense of Happiness

Oh, it’s given me so much happiness. It’s washed away all my sorrow and grief and pain. And even my doubts, over time; it’s taken time because I do it every day; it’s an incremental process.


I do my Kriya practice everyday. I do it when I feel anxious or angry or whatever. An unpleasant emotion and it washes it away. I am transformed into newness, aliveness and innocence, I guess you’d say, again. I am constantly in awe of the whole process and so thankful, full of gratitude that it’s happening. I feel like I am reaching my potential in life and that I’ll find my purpose in life through this practice.


A Clearer, More Creative Mind

The first week I was doing the Sudarshan Kriya, I had 13 new original songs that came spontaneously, the words and music at the same time. And I‘m a painter, and it’s like the spirit calls me to get up in the middle of the night, so I get up and paint. And the writing; you know, God sits on my shoulder when I’m writing.


An Accepting Attitude

I like to have new experiences now. I’m just open to whatever happens. And pain doesn’t bother me anymore. Physical pain or emotional pain doesn’t bother me like it used to.  I am able to cast it aside, let it wash through me, and then it’s gone. And then I’m new again.


A Contagious Passion for the Practice

I want this for my family and for my dear friends. I’ve tried to convince them but now I’ve decided to be an example, like look at me, look what’s happened to me;  how I am new; I’m different and I am thankful to be alive.


I am so in admiration of Sri Sri because he has dedicated his life to healing the world and the other people’s hearts. I think everyone is capable of doing this and radiating love out to others because if you love yourself then you can love others.


If you’re interested in learning the practical applications of breathing, meditation and yoga exercises, register for the Happiness Program, which runs every weekend at the Boone Art of Living Center.


Interested in learning more about Ayurveda and the programs at the Art of Living Retreat Center? Check out our annual catalog here!


Yoga Retreat Catalog for NC

TAGS: art of living retreat center , creativity , happiness , Happiness Program , mindfulness , wisdom
Art of Living - Why Spirituality matters

Walking the Path: 10 Reasons Why Spirituality Matters

By Lucia Whalen
June 12, 2017

Art of Living - Why Spirituality matters


The word “spirituality” means different things for different people. For some, spirituality is associated with religion and is tied to concrete rites and rituals. For others, meaningful activities like swimming, making art, and walking through the woods brings on a spiritual experience. For the most part, though, the word spirituality has become as ambiguous and vague as the word “the,” and is often stigmatized by associations to “hippy-dippy” new-age philosophies, patchouli, dreadlocks, and yoga pants.


Spirituality seems to have become confused with religion, as it is common to now associate as “spiritual” or “not spiritual”. However, at its core, spirituality is a sense of connection to something bigger than ourselves, and is not an ideology to believe or not believe in. Spirituality is, in fact, what gives life a sense of meaning and purpose.


TAGS: anxiety , art of living , art of living retreat center , creativity , forgiveness , mindfulness , relationships , silence , solitude , spirituality , stress , wellness

In House: JAC Patrissi on Storytelling for Change

By Paige Reist
April 24, 2017

Storytelling for Change


Stories help us connect. They move people to action, get them invested, and create meaningful relationships between ideas and people. JAC Patrissi has dedicated her life to the art of storytelling, and has seen the power that stories have to affect change first-hand. This spring, she will bring her unique and heartfelt approach to storytelling to the Art of Living Retreat Center. Here, JAC touches on what she’ll be sharing this upcoming May.


Storytelling for ChangeNo one tells the whole story. Whether we are in an interview for a job or making a toast at a wedding, we all edit; we adapt to the goal at hand, choosing which parts to focus on, which parts to leave out. If our whole life is a tree, the story we tell is a bonsai, carefully pruned and shaped. It is impossible, and not even respectful, to tell everything we know about a thing (though, goodness knows, some of us try).


Storytelling for Change is a creative workshop aimed at strengthening your ability to tell the story of the work you do in a way that is brief, natural, and compelling. An idea that is not shared is lost. Your unique insights, the lessons of your life and work, the things that inspire you, are meant to be shared in a way that speaks to others. You can learn to tell moving, funny and essential stories without reading from a script. You can give the toast that comes from the heart and you can move new supporters to join the social causes that give your life its direction.


In this workshop, we will explore how audience, character, conflict, and calls to action impact our message and shape the story we choose to tell. We will clarify our own understanding of the kind of change we seek through the work we do and the message we wish to impart. You will learn simple ways to use your voice and body to convey your message naturally.


During our three days, we’ll tell our stories to one another in small learning groups in a supportive, safe environment. We will employ a method to giving and receiving feedback that is supported by research on how we learn. Most importantly, you will feel seen and understood as you are coached by others who want you to do well. We will learn tell stories more easily to help people “get” us. Finally, you will leave with two stories ready to tell and the skills to tell many more. This retreat is open to all levels of expertise, all gender expressions, and is appropriate for people in all physical conditions. Please contact us using the form here if you have any special requirements.


Come tell us your story

Join JAC Patrissi for a three-day retreat, June 2–4, 2017, in an idyllic setting in the Blue Ridge Mountains for a relaxing, rewarding, all-inclusive learning experience. You’ll leave rejuvenated and prepared to share your story with the world. Learn more here!


Interested in learning more about programs at the Art of Living Retreat Center? Check out our annual catalog here.


Yoga Retreat Catalog for NC

TAGS: art of living , art of living retreat center , creativity , knowledge , wisdom , writing , writing retreat
Heather Allen Hietala

In House: Heather Allen Hietala on Creativity – Part 2

April 10, 2017
Heather Allen Hietala
Heather Allen Hietala’s notebook

Heather Allen Hietala has been creating, teaching, and playing for 25 years. This summer, she’ll join us at the Art of Living Retreat Center to host The Art of Letting Go: Awaken Your Creative Spirit, a workshop dedicated to reconnecting with and freeing your creativity. Read Part 1 here. 


The Importance of Play


This course is about being present, and using our hands to be mindful. We are all multifaceted beings. We live busy and often fractured lives. Our creative inner worlds are vast and often ignored, or may seem inaccessible, even to ourselves. It can be a new experience to tap into our innate creative source. Exploring a new territory can be daunting. We are all born creative, but over time it can get buried. I create a nurturing space that supports each student as they play around and explore the clay, and through this playing, get in touch with their creativity. They clay allows for expressive freedom – there are no rules, just fun to be had as we play around with it.

We are all born creative, but over time it can get buried.

Journaling as an Anchor


At the beginning of the course, we create a journal. This journal serves as a safe place to explore and record our experiences. I provide stimulating exercises to nurture and support our need for reasoning and logic. These activities provide an emotional anchor that allows my students to express themselves more fully in the clay and visual exercises.

Just as when we open any book, and it takes us right back to where we were in the story, my student’s journals serve as a personal reference and record of their own creative journey. Their journal allows them to take the experience of the week home with them, and continue to nurture and explore their creativity.

Join Heather at The Art of Letting Go: Awaken Your Creative Spirit from June 20 – June 25 at the Art of Living Retreat Center, or click here to learn more about our retreats.


Interested in learning more about the programs at the Art of Living Retreat Center? Check out our annual catalog here!


Yoga Retreat Catalog for NC

TAGS: art , art of living , art of living retreat center , creativity , Heather Allen Hietala , wisdom

In House: Heather Allen Hietala on Creativity – Part 1

By Paige Reist
April 3, 2017


The power of creative expression is part of what makes us human. Heather Allen Hietala, artist and teacher, has been helping her students explore the urge to create for over 25 years. This summer, she’ll bring her unique approach to the Art of Living Retreat Center. We asked Heather to share a little more about her upcoming workshop. 

Awaken Your Creative Spirit

For many people, being creative seems foreign or unattainable. In my course, The Art of Letting Go: Awaken Your Creative Spirit, participants reconnect with the joy of making, of being in the moment of the creative process, and of playing. Using the immediate and tactile nature of clay, our creative spirit will be awakened and nurtured. I facilitate exercises allowing us to let go and be present in the moment.

Working with our hands gets us out of our heads and into our bodies, allowing us to be fully engaged in the here and now. We will witness the wisdom that is revealed through our hands as we explore the immediacy of a variety of mediums as a way to reconnect with our creative self. I’ve chosen materials that are accessible, and have the ability to unlock emotions and memories while providing insights and resolutions.


The Moment of Pure Experience

There will be wonderful “aha!” moments of clarity and surprise. As a class, we will all be together in the moment of pure experience, of being present in the now, by working with our hands. My teaching process encourages the usual expectations and judgments we have while creating to recede. This allows each student to be fully present in their creativity, and thus living healthier and happier lives.

We work primarily with the three senses of sight, smell, and touch. Touch is a very important sense, and a very integral part of the class. As the workshop facilitator, I create a nurturing space to allow each student to open to their natural creativity. As a class, we embrace and nurture the expression that flows forth from our hands.


The Art of Process

At the close of the workshop, my students are comfortable allowing themselves to focus on the process rather than the outcome. This allows them opens them up to their own creativity. Each participant’s imagination will be awakened and nurtured. They learn how to let go and be in the moment. They create a class journal, and use it for exercises that support their explorations and serve as a bridge to continue nurturing their creative spirit and well-being after they return home.


Join Heather at The Art of Letting Go: Awaken Your Creative Spirit from June 20 – June 25.


Interested in learning more about programs at the Art of Living Retreat Center? Check out our annual catalog here.


Yoga Retreat Catalog for NC

TAGS: art , art of living , art of living retreat center , creativity , Heather Allen Hietala , wisdom
Illuminating the World - The Art of Living Retreat Cente

Exploring Wisdom: Illuminating the World With KiMani Divine

By Paige Reist
February 10, 2017

Illuminating the World - The Art of Living Retreat Cente

Self-love is so important, and here at the Art of Living Center, you can cultivate that at the deepest part of your being, and begin to recognize and remember that you are loved. The presence of God lives inside of you, so you are worth your own time, your own attention, and your own devotion. That’s the message of Art of Living Center guest facilitator KiMani Divine’s work; making time for yourself, taking time to go within. We recently spoke with KiMani about the far-reaching effects of self-love. 


We have all struggled with learning to love ourselves exactly how we are. The most powerful lesson I’ve learned through self-reflection is that I don’t need any fixing. I am a simply a vessel for the light of the universe. When I deny that light, when I do not honor myself just as I am, I am denying my purpose.


The Light That I Am is the Light That You Are

When we all understand that our own light is bright enough, just as we are, then we empower others to find their own light as well. We are all one light. The light that I am is the light that you are. There is only one, and in that oneness, we can illuminate the world.
When you are restless, or feeling negative, or focusing too much on the outside world, the first thing you must do is to become aware. You can’t make any significant changes in your life until you’re aware of your own negative patterns of behavior and thought. This is why self-reflection is a huge part of meditation.


The Power of Prayer

Spending time in prayer and meditation is the foundation of my life. It’s like breathing. I can’t get along without it. Every thought, every word becomes a prayer. And when I retreat to the silence of my own mind, I receive answers to those prayers. I receive answers through how I think about myself, how I think about others, how I think about experiences. And when I begin to understand the answers to my prayers, I can put them into context – knowing that when I give out love, I receive love. When I think loving thoughts to myself, when I’m quiet within myself, that is where the love I’m seeking can be found. In this way, I’m truly able to give love without needing anything in return.

You can’t make any significant changes in your life until you’re aware of your own negative patterns of behavior and thought.

I find that it’s helpful to journal about your inner state – I have journals that go back all the way to 1990! When I go back over them, sometimes I’m astounded that I thought the things I did. Journaling is an act of release. It gets the thoughts out of you, out of your mind, and onto paper, where you can begin to understand them from a new perspective.


Humanity is a Diamond

We are all on a wonderful and sacred journey, and every single journey on the planet is leading to the One. The one space, the one time, the one journey – the One. Unity. Humanity is like a diamond. There are so many facets, so many peaks and planes, and we tend to conceptualize ourselves as different, separate points of the diamond. We think of ourselves ans individuals, but really, we are part of a whole. If a single peak of the diamond is illuminated, the rest of the diamond is as well. One point of light can echo through the entirety of the diamond. In this way, we are truly one. When we connect, when we show compassion, our level of love, and acceptance through self-love, transforms the whole of humanity.

Learn more about KiMani Divine here.

Interested in learning more about programs at the Art of Living Retreat Center? Check out our annual catalog here.


Yoga Retreat Catalog for NC

TAGS: art of living retreat center , creativity , exploring wisdom , KiMani Divine , knowledge , unity , wisdom
Artist Retreats

Artist Retreats – Explore Your Creative Side

By Paige Reist
January 23, 2017

Artist RetreatsCreativity is a muscle, and like other muscles, it needs to be exercised. The challenge for those with artistic souls is finding a way to exercise that muscle when so much time is spent on work, home stresses, and more.

While practicing your preferred craft is a great way to start working out your creative muscles, there are times when you need something more – a chance to reconnect with your artistic self, and a muse that you can use to inspire your creative works for the future.


Benefits of Artist Retreats

Since our founding, we’ve offered several different types of retreats, including Ayurveda retreats, spa healing retreats, and more. These retreats attract people from all walks of life. But we have found that some of our visitors that seem to best enjoy their experience are artists.

This is because artists, perhaps more than any other group, benefit the most from reconnecting with both nature and themselves. Spiritual and healing centers have many benefits that make them ideal as an artist retreat, including:

  • Cleared Mind – Healing retreats help to slow the world down. They are relaxing, and able to calm your mind from the stresses of the day. This allows the analytical side of your mind to rest, and the creative/artistic side to start to take over.
  • Fresh Air and Nature – Any artist retreat would be incomplete without a chance to spend time with nature, and these types of healing retreats provide just that. At all times you are surrounded by beauty, which stimulates your creative juices and clears up the busyness of the city.
  • Better Sense of Self – Creativity comes from inside you. Artist retreats give you the chance to tune out all of the outside influences that you receive in your life from work, TV – even friends and family, so that you can bring out your own artistic ideas.

Retreats are also energizing, and many people leave these getaways feeling like they are ready and motivated to take on anything that they had envisioned.


Types of Artist Retreats at the Art of Living Retreat Center

Each retreat has its own unique strategies and perspectives, so choosing between them is really about addressing yourself: what is it you feel like you could benefit from most for both your personal side and your creative side.


Upcoming retreats include:
Storytelling For Change with JAC Patrissi

The Art of Bewilderment with Nick Flynn

The Art of Letting Go with Heather Allen Hietala

Deep Writing Workshop with Dr. Eric Maisel

Yoga & Writing with Karen Kenney


Every artist deserves a chance to explore their own creative soul. Let our retreats help inspire you, and provide new energy to put into your chosen craft.

Interested in learning more about programs at the Art of Living Retreat Center? Check out our annual catalog here.


Yoga Retreat Catalog for NC

TAGS: art of living , art of living retreat center , artist , creativity , Retreats , wellness
Triple W Weekend Retreat North Carolina

In House: Women’s Retreats & Why Work-Life Balance is Not Impossible

By Paige Reist
January 6, 2017

Jennifer Connelly believes in the power of integration. Originally quite skeptical, a couple of things have happened to transform her idea of what is possible, which she now shares in her women’s retreat. A life well-lived is a life that you are passionate about in every area: work included. When you are doing your soul’s work, pursuing your calling, and using your inherent, unique strengths to better yourself and the world around you, magic happens. Triple W was created from Jennifer’s desire to help women, including her own daughter, find this calling, to center their lives around what brings them joy and a sense of purpose.

We spoke with Jennifer recently about what integration means to her, how she’s seen it transform her students, and how the wisdom of nature and the sacred space of the Art of Living Retreat Center complete the experience of the Triple W retreat.

Women's retreat for Work Life balance with Jennifer Connely

A Women’s Retreat for Work-Life Integration

Our curriculum for the women’s retreat is centered around work-life integration. It looks at integration from a variety of pillars. One of the pillars is nature – so when one of our facilitators found the Art of Living Retreat Center, it could not have been a more perfect backdrop for this program.

Nature is a powerful teacher itself, and can show us what it means to gracefully navigate cycles of transformation in your life.

Another one of the pillars of Triple W is wellness, so yoga is woven into the curriculum design. We do breath work, yoga postures, yoga nidra, meditation, and guided imagery, as well as journaling. The center provides a perfect backdrop for these aspects.

We also do assessment work through the Birkman Method – I work with each of the attendees in the women’s retreat, and they get a personalized Birkman quiestionnaire. The results from that test help us find what they’re naturally drawn to, what their interests are, what their strengths are, and how they can tap into that more often. What is really unique about the Birkman method is that it looks at the student’s underlying needs, and how they can fulfill those in order for them to be their most powerful self. During the weekend, we learn how to identify these needs, how to become more self aware, what drives us and motivates us as individuals.

We also explore the thing that none of us can avoid – stress. That forms another key pillar of Triple W’s teachings. We look at how to manage stress using the wisdom of nature, yoga, and science – not only the science that comes from the assessment work they do during the weekend, but also the science of the brain and nervous system, and what they have to teach us about living a more integrated, happy life.

Striving Towards the Flow State

Andrew: And what are the insights the brain has to teach us?

Jennifer: Oh, I could spend all day talking about the brain! I’m not a neurologist or neuroscientist, but a student of life. I’m always studying the brain. The brain itself, as an organ, craves and desires to be in the flow state of integration.  Instead of looking at life as separate elements, they strive to see the linkage. They see the differences, but they also see how those differences link together. When the brain is in that state of integration, the brain is happy.

We see this when we look at the opposite of integration, disintegration. The things that take the brain out of the flow state of integration are chaos and rigidity. One of the resources I rely on heavily when I talk about the brain is Dr. Daniel Siegel’s work, and his studies on how these two forces affect us. We talk a lot about how to minimize chaos in our life, but how do we minimize rigidity? A flexible brain and an adaptable brain, one that trusts that flow state, is more open to learning. It decreases anxiety,stress, and tempers the mind, allowing you to be your most effective, productive self.

The flow state feels like a sense of ease. Something we talk about in yoga is getting to that place of ease, so that when you get there, you can contemplate the infinite. You can see so clearly the interconnection of all things. That’s what the flow state of integration feels like. It feels easy. It feels natural. It feels like you, as your original self. Instead of feeling anxious, rigid, in a hurry, angry. That’s a disintegrated brain.

Yoga is so integrative in its nature. I can’t help but bring yoga teaching into a weekend that’s focused on integration.

It’s All in the Eyes

Andrew: What inspires you to get up in the morning and bring this integrative approach to people, to contribute what you’re teaching and learning in a women’s retreat?

Jennifer: Sometimes it’s been hard. However, I know that what I do is a beautiful gift when I see the looks in the eyes of my students when they really connect the dots. So I try to remember that. The other thing is my daughter – when I started Triple W, she was in kindergarten, and I wanted this for her. I wanted to do something in the world that had continual relevance, so that one day, I could watch her walking through the door and attending herself. As I was preparing for this last women’s retreat, she came into my office, and was helping me put together some things in my folder, and she said “Mom, I can’t wait to get to go to Triple W someday.” That is my inspiration.

Andrew: You say women come out of this with a new look in their eyes – can you describe that? What do you recognize there?

Jennifer: The look! Well, it’s funny. The opposite is what caused me to start the Triple W Women’s Retreat. It’s a look of desperation, exhaustion, being overwhelmed. I saw that in many women’s eyes. A long time ago, I had a role in professional development, and I was responsible for helping marketers become more effective and learn the latest trends, and be on top of their game. These were very driven people.

But I could tell, some of the women I’d look at would have this look of being unwell. They tried so hard to be successful that they forgot themselves in the process. They sacrificed their own self-care. And I recognized myself in those eyes, and I said to myself, “I need to do something about that because I feel it too. I feel unwell. I feel like I’ve forgotten who I am.”

So that’s what started it. The students in my class might walk in the door looking a little desperate, a little overwhelmed, or just plain tired, because they’re trying so hard to be good in this world. And when they leave, the look in their eyes is one of rejuvenation. You can just see that little sparkle of something in their eyes that says “I feel like myself again. Not like something I’m trying to be, but the me that I knew was there all along. This weekend makes me feel good to be alive.”

Andrew: And that really fits in with this grander discussion happening in the world about work-life balance, especially for many women and mothers.
Jennifer: Oh yes. When I first started Triple W, I was a person who would proudly declare, “Balance is not possible”. I feel that the term ‘work-life balance’ makes you feel like a failure. I had this negative attitude about the word balance, but I don’t anymore. I’ve realized that word couldn’t be more beautiful. A lot of people are just like I was. They’d hear “work-life balance” and think “that’s not possible.” But integration is a much better way of phrasing it. Life is work, and work is life. And you are you throughout all of that. So this idea of integration resonates with me far more than the term “work-life balance” ever did. Integration is the secret to understanding that it’s okay if you can’t do it all.

Life is work, and work is life. And you are you throughout all of that.

Why the Art of Living Retreat Center?

Andrew: What is the role of nature in your program?

Jennifer: I think many of the participants in my women’s retreat are coming from cities and towns, and feel a little separated from the great outdoors. We have this disconnect from nature, we think that we’re separate from it, but truly we are as connected to nature as any other living thing. In order for people to really connect to that, though, you have to be immersed in a natural environment. There’s something very restorative about being in nature during this retreat. There are even these things happening at a subtle energetic level that we can’t quite see by spending time in nature, by spending time amongst the trees, really talking about ancient rock formations and what they have to teach us. We use a lot of natural metaphors, and explore how the natural world can give us insight into our own experiences, how that ties into our own transformations. We talk about rivers. We talk about mountains, about how they’re messy and beautiful. Nature teaches us about transformation.

The center itself carries with it so many things. When I first realized that this is where Triple W was going to be, I was so moved. If I could build a place like this, I would. To be in partnership with folks who have the inspiration to create a place so sacred and special, and to add healthy, mindful eating as part of it, and an Ayurvedic spa… those are things that I would talk about in my sessions outside of the center! Ayurvedic massage is really powerful – it helps to stimulate the Vagus nerve and increase parasympathetic nervous system dominance. When I teach here, I can say “Go down the road, and schedule all your appointments during the day!” Because we have a lot of free time built into the experience, so students can experience the benefits of the center, too. It really completes the experience.


We’re happy to host Jennifer again for both Spring and Fall Work:Life Integration Retreats Exclusively for Women, April 7-9 and November 10-12.

Interested in learning more about programs at the Art of Living Retreat Center? Check out our annual catalog here.


Yoga Retreat Catalog for NC

TAGS: art of living retreat center , Ayurveda , balance , creativity , happiness , integration , wellness , wisdom , women's retreat , work life balance , yoga

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