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Ireland Calling: MindWise Retreats in 2020

My time in Ireland on a mindfulness writing retreat at Fia Lodge reminded me of what it means to indulge in a blissful escape in nature, feeling utterly tranquil and inspired by surrounding beauty. I drank it all in with my senses, letting go in a way we all need to when we want to deepen our practices. It was a feeling of surrender, slowing down to speed up, and giving in to the flow of writing, which then takes on its own natural pace. It needs the space to breathe, and time for the practice of listening.

A stone’s throw from Killarney, in glorious Glencar, this wonderful retreat space is footsteps from The Kerry Way, nestled in the Reeks District, with vistas of Carrauntoohil, the highest mountain in Ireland. I arrived and felt as if I had found my own space of complete reconnection, right in the heart of Ireland. It feels like a calling we answer, to give into this wild, wonderful land. For those who love nature, and have a longing to carve out more time for reconnection and practice, this is the ideal opportunity. My discovery on this retreat, which I’ll describe here in more detail, led me to design a special MindWise experience offering coming up in Spring 2020.

Thee view of Fia Lodge, with sky and hills in reflection from the floor-to-ceiling windows.

In Ireland, I retreated from the hustle and bustle for a few days, went “far from the madding crowd”, and felt rejuvenated by the clear air in my lungs and the magic of natural surroundings, in and out of the Lodge. The time at Fia flew by, though the days themselves were timeless and unhurried. I returned renewed and refreshed, and I’m now dreaming of the coming days in May 2020, which will be spent again in connection, writing and soulful mindfulness in this place of wonder and expansion.

Each morning and afternoon, my yoga and meditative mindfulness practices had this backdrop – better than a painting!

The space invites both a sense of adventure and relaxation, with the ease and comfort of a modern-equipped lodge with timeless details. The large living room boasts vaulted ceilings with a wall of floor-to-ceiling glass, for breathtaking views. At sunset, it’s especially nice to sit with a tea as the birds chirp, the sky turns purple and rose, and the “mountainscape” is an illuminated gold, orange, glowing in the distance, beyond the lush green.

The house itself is bright and airy all around, with authentic wood accents, and a traditional cast iron woodstove as one of the centerpieces of the living room. From the skylights in the bedroom, fine linens and silk bathrobes, to the relaxing rain shower, there’s ample pampering to make this a lush experience. As my book Mindful by Design guides in practices for sustenance, part of the joy of life is all about celebrating “les petits plaisirs” – “the little pleasures” – without taking them for granted. Simply the act of noticing can be part of mindfulness. Noticing those details and qualities that relax us and uplift the senses. These are some ways that mindfulness thrives.

Deer are a common sighting on and off the road to Fia Lodge, which is in a protected nature reserve. “Fia” or “Fiadh” means “deer” in Old Irish, and it also means “wild.” How’s that for a beautiful namesake for Fia Lodge?

Outdoors, I had all the flora and fauna, hiking and local adventures one could want… Each day, I took a different hiking route, and was continually enthralled by the wildlife I saw. The surrounding area is a nature preserve—deer sightings are a daily occurrence here. One of the standout features that cannot be captured in photos is a stay at Fia Lodge leads to a massive case of “ornithophily”—that is, bird loving. Here, there are doves and warblers, hawks and ravens, and many other birds I couldn’t identify, with calls that are simply a marvel. It’s peaceful and quiet at night—and the daytime chirps that the birds bring are literal music to the ears.

Books, tea and the warm fireplace make for a comforting, relaxing afternoon.

With its gifts of nature, time, and space, I was transported to mindful writing wonderland in mere hours. For those wanting a relaxing, low-key stay, you’re perfectly suited to spend the days with a hot cup of tea by the fireside, enjoying the company of a good book (which might or might not be your own!). You also might enjoy yoga in the upstairs studio space, or cooking in the fully-equipped kitchen, fully stocked with appliances (plus nespresso machine and foamer, for all of my fellow cappuccino lovers). There’s a laundry machine, a dishwasher, full stove and microwave, as well as a grill outside. It had everything I needed to make my stay complete, and inspired me so much that I’m returning to host MindWise retreats at Fia Lodge in May 2020.

I’m looking forward to returning to this idyllic space again, enjoying the practices that celebrate our whole, full selves, inviting our fullest stories, sense of daring, self-compassion, and mindful wellbeing to bloom. To find out more, visit www.mindwise.pro/retreats and join us this spring.

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