Written by Rachel | 20 Apr. 2019
Why go to Fiji for a retreat?
Perhaps you have heard people talk about wanting to go on retreats, or maybe you’ve been wanting to go on one or maybe you are a seasoned retreat participant! Either way, there are so many out there to choose from. Do you want a local getaway, or an overseas escape? If you go overseas, which country do you want to go to? Are you looking at the culture or the food or the content of the retreat? There really are so many things to consider when travelling in general.
Bali has become the mecca of retreats. Thousands of people flock there every year for their juice cleanses, raw food, vegan, yoga, meditation retreats. Which is great, I am one of them and I will hold them there in the future. Bali has that great mix of relaxation and party atmosphere about it and that accessibility factor.
However, is Bali a little over done? As a facilitator, how do you stand out in the sea of retreats? As a participant, how do you narrow down to what you want? Bali has every kind of retreat that you can think of. Is it too much? How do you choose either the 5 day juice cleanse in Seminyak, or the 15 day raw juice cleanse in Ubud?
My first concern before going to Bali on retreat was, will I be the odd one out because I like to eat chocolate & cooked food, I love to laugh, and tend not to take things too seriously. I really had nothing to worry about as the retreat I choose was epic, thank god! But is this the same as all retreats? I don't want strict rules, after all I have come a long way and spent a lot of money to be here.
So, it prompted me to think about what other options are out there. One that is not as pretentious, full of load mouth drunk bogans wearing bintang t-shirts, riding scooters without helmets and getting their sleeve tattoos done for a quarter of the price they would pay in Australia. I wanted a place that calls to me and my heart space and makes me feel at home.
I have been fortunate enough to live in and travel to Fiji over the past 15 years. My first experience in Fiji was in the local village as a teenager, where I was immediately welcomed with open arms and a big Bula. I had never stayed in a resort, but each time I visited I was in the local village with the cold water showers, intermittent electricity issues, the mosquitos, the chickens & the coming and going of villagers, friends and family all day long. And I loved it! Whether we were all in the kitchen together preparing the evening meal as a family and laughing about the days goings on, or sitting out on the veranda drinking kava and playing music with a 4 stringed guitar and 2 spoons, or helping one another hand wash our clothes out in the old stone basin, there was something comforting and loving about the whole experience.
It didn’t matter if your shirt was holey, or your thongs had been chewed by the neighbour’s dog, or your house didn’t have a toilet, everyone is treated equally, with a sense of unconditional love and acceptance. Something that is missing from western society. When at home, if you were to see someone walking around with a holey t-shirt & chewed thongs, we would automatically judge them negatively. But in Fiji, no one cares! Your worldly possessions, or lack thereof, do not define who you are as a person. For all we know, that might be their favourite t-shirt that their Aussie mate gave them 5 years ago and every time they wear it they think of them and the fun times they all had together.
Life is so much simpler. Yes, they earn less money, sure the rain gets in sometimes, but do they seem bothered? Nope. They will still laugh that gorgeous loud belly laugh, greet you with that same warm BULA! And share with you everything they have.
I have had countless experiences where I have been sitting in the park, or on the bus and someone has sat beside me, shared their lunch with me and invited me to come and visit them for dinner tomorrow night or offered to show me where the best waterfall is in the area. Or I have been watching a rugby game and turned around to have 5 kids sitting around me wanting to share my packets of bongos or UFO’s (chips) with them. The kindness of sharing and giving has not been lost on Fijian’s and you will be surrounded by this kindness from the very moment you arrive.
My favourite memories have come from the simplest experiences. I would love to lay out on a big mat under a tree with a big bilo (cup) of tea, enjoying the cool air as one of the village elders would tell me stories of his ancestors. How they came to the village, or what plant is good medicine for what or how they used to be cannibals. We would be there for hours, until we would eventually be called in for lunch or the afternoon rain would come and we would be forced to run for cover.
So, back to my question, why Fiji for retreats? Today we are in constant competition with one another, who has a better car, bigger house or the most expensive clothes? Who earns more money? All of this stress and pressure is creating a divide between people and is not bringing out the best in us. But mostly it is creating dis-ease and manifesting all sorts of horrible things within our mind and body. What better place is there to go then somewhere that all of that materialistic crap is irrelevant? Because most people don’t own a car, they take the bus. A family of 8 share a 1 room house and your clothes are also my clothes. The money is the family’s money and none of it really matters in the end.
Fiji, a place where you are not judged for what you own but embraced for being yourself. You can take a nap on the floor in the middle of the day and no one will bat an eyelid. A place where constant laughter and happiness fills the room. Where you will make lifelong friends and be welcomed as a member of the family.
These has been a recent campaign for Fiji Tourism, called Bulanaires. What a fantastic idea. Local people talk about what makes them happy and how they make others happy. As I listen, I think to myself, “when was the last time I just enjoyed the simplicity of life? Or when was the last time I heard people on the street laugh the way they do in Fiji?”.
I want you to feel that raw, open feeling of unconditional love. I want it to surround you with its wide open and warm embrace. I want you to let go and fall into a blissful state of relaxation. I want you to honour yourself and all of your amazing talents. I want you to experience my Fiji and all of the things that I love and cherish about this incredible land, it’s people and its powerful aura that surrounds you from the moment you arrive and continues to glow long after you leave.
When I am planning my Fiji retreats, there are a lot of things I take into consideration. First being the location. I avoid big resorts altogether, no one wants to get lost in the crowds. Each facility is chosen with a few things in mind, privacy, exclusivity, peace and quiet, beautiful surrounds and facilities (yes air-conditioning, hot water and being mosquito proof are a minimum!). I want each of my participants to feel like they matter, because you do!
The next is, where is it that we are able to give back and make a difference? There is such a sense of self-satisfaction when you go in and make a difference in peoples lives, especially children. I also want to be completely surrounded by nature. Fiji is very green and luscious with an abundance of trees and plants, with incredible beaches and wildlife. Being in nature is so healing and when we take time out in nature, we are able to heal so much more effectively.
When you are next considering where you want to go on a retreat, please consider coming to Fiji and experiencing the power of kindness, friendliness, happiness and the big beautiful Bula spirit. Vinaka Vaka Levu (thank you very much).