Billabong Retreat Sydney | Learning Mindfulness And Practising Gratitude

A couple of weeks ago we were all (yes we took merrymaker mum along too!) lucky enough to spend 3 days of relaxation at Billabong Retreat Sydney. A magical hideaway. We had no expectations + thought the weekend would be spent in hour long warrior poses, laughing at our lack of flexibility + drinking herbal tea… the second we were settled into our cottage rooms we could tell this place was special (we DID drink lots of herbal tea + practised yoga but what we got out of this weekend was oh so much more).

If you’re anything like us, you spend your days rushing around trying to get things done while thinking of what you have to do next. We used to think this was a highly productive, great way to live. During our first afternoon at the Billabong Retreat, these thoughts were turned upside down.

Donna Gianniotis, our yoga + mediation guide (read more about Donna here) for the weekend spoke to us about living in the now. She asked us how life would be if we didn’t worry so much about the past + wonder so much about the future. Would life be more simple? That’s an easy answer… of course it would. Imagine if you could teach your mind to forgive your yesterdays, welcome tomorrow + most importantly notice + actually LIVE your todays. Life would be simple + more enjoyable.

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Over the weekend we were guided through 5 yoga + meditation workshops. The yoga was gentle + focussed on cleansing + clearing the mind. There was lots of emphasis on the breath. In + out + in + out. Thinking about the breath helped us to think about nothing else… though thinking about nothing is hard, the mind wanders + to c’s embarrassment you can fall asleep + snore quite easily (oops!).

Speaking of sleep, we did A LOT of that while on the retreat. At every opportunity we all just napped (+ we don’t/can’t usually do this). It was as if we hadn’t slept for days. It was amazing to be able to listen to our bodies + minds + do what we needed to do: nothing!

By the end of the 3 days we were getting the hang of the yoga/meditation + one of our 2014 goals is to include meditation in our daily routine. Whether it be just before we go to sleep, when we wake up or during the day when we need some time out. Bringing awareness to the breath steadies the mind + causes mindfulness. We think of mindfulness as being aware of the now, the food you’re eating, the road you’re driving or the email you’re writing. 

We could easily practise mindfulness at the retreat as there was nothing to distract us. All of the food was included + it was 100% organic, local, whole foods. Oh + delicious (so being mindful at meal times was especially easy). Just take a little peak at what we enjoyed… (if you’re eyeing off the paleo choccy mousse… we re-created it + you can click here for the recipe!).

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We spoke about energy + how every action we perform creates a reaction. Take for example, the way we close a door, or the way we walk. If we choose to perform these actions gently, then a gentle reaction will occur in the people around us. This awareness is nice for the people around us + it makes us more aware of our emotions. Yes we get angry/sad/etc. but if you choose to be gentle, smile + breathe, these emotions will be less likely to increase… as we always say, happiness is a choice + these techniques really help with choosing happiness.

The meditation was complimented with a gentle yoga series that could be modified for all levels. Thank golly for the easy to follow yoga, as ‘to increase our flexibility + mobility’ is another 2014 goal!

By the end of the weekend we were completely relaxed, re-energised, with a brand new outlook on the way we want to live. The environment of Billabong Retreat really helped with this, we woke up to the sound of cicadas + were surrounded by native Australian trees + wildlife. We also found a new passion to learn more about the mind + how this affects our health. We’ve asked Donna to share her knowledge + story with you all so you too can reap the benefits of a clear mind + gentle energy. Watch this space!

Here are some photos (we especially loved all of the little hidden signs!)… imagine being here in real life!

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There were 13 others in our retreat group, all different ages, female, male, yoga gurus, first time yoga triers too + they were all there for different reasons. The Billabong Retreat was the perfect place to get away from our regular routine, focus on ourselves + re-energise our minds. It was a necessary reminder to make the most of our todays, to notice the little everythings + be grateful for what we have. 

If you’d like to find out more about Billabong Retreat Sydney click here. We’d also recommend adding a remedial massage to your weekend (absolute bliss!).

Thanks to the team at Billabong Retreat Sydney for having us, we are forever grateful! 

Always merrymaking,

Emma + Carla

Merrymaker bundle

Please note: e + c received accommodation at Billabong Retreat in kind. This review is based on their personal experience + beliefs. You can read more about their disclaimer policy here