Posted: 1 month ago

Carla McGreevy’s mind and body column… why you can’t beat a retreat (and here’s your chance to join me on one in Donegal)

Carla (far left) in full retreat

When was the last time you turned your phone off for a weekend?

Didn’t check social media once?

Attended to your body with purpose, really felt into her?

Connected to your breath? Really experienced the power of conscious breathing?

Explored how different shapes shifted your mind and the different tastes they offered?

Implemented a firm boundary of no work. No content creation? No checking emails?

Then read on…

I never ever had an interest in retreat in my 20s.

Makes sense as I seemed to only gravitate towards self abuse. 

The wellness scene hadn’t exploded then either. 

I was mad into fitness in my 20s as part of the self abuse, and a healing retreat never held any interest for me. I was attached to the fastness and constant doing of life.

My first experience of retreat was when my heart was broken, and I needed something to distract me (my thought at the time). My desperation to heal and move on called me to try retreat. I knew I needed to try something new to get me through this. Everything I knew wasn’t working. 

I googled retreat today and this was the first response: “Withdraw from enemy forces as a result of their superior power after defeat”


“To change mind”

Origins of the word in Latin “is to pull back.”

It’s funny, because definitely I went to my first retreat when I was feeling defeated by life,

I couldn’t keep pushing forward. Instead of changing my mind, I needed to change the direction and hoped my mind would follow suit. I was walking on a path that was full of familiar holes, that I kept falling back into. Same holes I had always known. 

I had to retreat, to soften my resistance to myself, to change path and move forward, to become unstuck. 

History of our Bloodline

I feel 10 years ago, when I attended my first retreat, we were all the same.

None of us really knew about the power of slowing down, doing less, being taken care of for once – which for a woman is a very alien concept. Look at our mothers and grandmothers, they did far too much and they didn’t  experience the joy of looking after themselves.

Gabor Mate’s work around the impact of emotions contributing to disease was gaining momentum at this time. He asked the question why is it 80% of autoimmune diseases are in women? He links it to the programming women have around putting everyone else first at the cost of their own self care. 

Solo or with friends 

Retreat was so powerful for me it has been a regular part of my life since 2017, all of which I have attended solo bar one retreat. 

I personally prefer to go solo. 

The one where I went with a friend involved plant medicine – ayahuasca – and that was far too scary to do alone.

The reason I advocate solo retreat is because we are the first generations of women to travel the world single. To do things alone. It’s sad to think of our bloodline that for safety we have always needed the company of a man or a pack of friends. 

No distractions 

When we attend a retreat solo, you have no distractions that a friend brings. When you retreat with friend, it brings a degree of distraction. You are naturally thinking about her experience as well as your own. When you go solo all your energy and attention is on you, which offers you so much insight to the self.

When I go on retreat for just two days I get to pour all my energy into myself.

Retreat creates a container. You can’t just be distracted by calling to a friends, by doing work, or cleaning  another part of the house. You really learn and practise staying with yourself.

With very little distraction from self, we can learn so much about how we are truly feeling and needing.

We get to remember who we are and what we want. Seduced into forgetting, retreat is remembering. 

The patriarchy benefits and programmes women to forget about ourselves, to be everything to everyone and be nothing to ourselves.

Through practises of self care, we rebel and decondition. But, because our environment has not changed, the ingrained demands on women, we get seduced into forgetting again which is why retreat, sacred pauses, are necessary throughout the year as well as our daily practises of care. It’s like having a deep clean every so often. A fresh renewal of energy for life. 

I don’t know what direction to go? 

If you are feeling lost and struggling to make a decision, know what you want.

A change in environment is potent medicine.

It gives a different perspective and often problems need rest and space, then answers flow to us. Whereas, when we overwork it, suffocate it, it feels the answers will never come.

Magic strangers. 

In retreat the right group of women come together.

I don’t know why this is, but it’s true.

Often I have witnessed women meeting a stranger who has been through what she is going through. I have watched tears of relief as a woman hears someone communicating her feelings in words she has yet to find. Helping her to remember there is nothing wrong with her, this is just life and happens to us all. 

We heal in community. We cannot heal alone.

In healing we need to be witnessed, to be seen, to heal.

Of course only you can heal you, however you can’t do it alone, it needs to be witnessed too, despite the conditioned belief from capitalism that you can heal alone. The research finds group work is more effective in healing the body and mind than solo work, (Pappas, S. 2023, March 1)).

Make new connections. 

I feel it is the juice of life to always be making new friends, new connections through every decade of our lives. We learn from the youth, our peers, our elders. 

A friendship circle that has a range of generations is a very rich one. 

It is the collective of strangers that is one of the most powerful elements of retreats. 

We are all mirrors for each other, and each woman will mirror something for you. 

With strangers we don’t project as much of ourselves onto them as we do friends. 

There is no history, no past, no knowledge of each other which brings a degree of freedom.

Bali Healing practices on Irish soil. 

I have travelled to Bali, numerous times, which is known as the liver of the earth, and renowned for healing practices to learn from the leading pioneers in healing. I am so delighted to share these practices on home soil.

In all my travels I have always been told this, you will heal here in the east, but the deepest healing will happen on your own land and waters, practicing what you have learned from your travels. 

My retreat is for you if you need more laughter. 

Play and fun are often skipped in the healing journey.

The most vital part of my retreat is that they are fun. We can make life so serious and take healing so serious, it takes us further from ourselves instead of closer. My approach is very playful and fun.  A house full of cackling women is always my intention and I really believe this is the best part of my retreats. 

Rest Replenish Rejuvenate

This retreat is really special, and I urge you not to miss this opportunity to attend to yourself. 

What will be revealed to you about you, through your attendance. 

I offer retreat because they work. It will connect you deeper to yourself, and offer clairty around what you really want. 

Retreats are a really important part of my life because I get lost in others, easily distracted from myself and I feel like I am a million pieces swimming scattered about, and I forget who I am, what I feel and what I want due to the world we live in. Its constant notifications, telling who I am, what I feel and what I want then the overwhelm and confusion follows. 

Which is why we need practices in place to unite and condense these 37 trillion cells of our being, to come home to ourselves as John O’Donohue puts it. 

“Our bodies know they belong, it’s our minds that makes our lives so homeless.”


When was the last time you turned your phone off for a weekend?

Didn’t check social media once?

Attended to your body with purpose, really felt into her?

Connected to your breath? Really experienced the power of conscious breathing?

Explored how different shapes shifted your mind and the different tastes they offered?

Implemented a firm boundary of no work. No content creation? No checking emails?

Gifts of Retreat 

When I come home from retreat I am given a brand new lease of life, of purpose, of focus. 

I have washed the dust of externals off me, to be truly me, unashamedly me.

This is my intention for you, to receive this gift through my retreat. 

There are three rooms left, come and let me and the team (ocean included) take such good care of you. Secure your  space at

Indulge with me and a potent community of women for a two night stay in the magic space of Dunfanaghy, Donegal. Expect vinyasa yoga, breathwork, hot and cold water therapy, sunrise ocean dips, delicious food, all in stunning venue with sea views.

Pappas, S. (2023, March 1). Group therapy is as effective as individual therapy, and more efficient. Here’s how to do it successfully. Monitor on psychology54(2).