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Nature, mindfulness pair up for a weekend getaway—especially for women

Learn practical techniques to de-compress and find balance in a chaotic world while enjoying delicious food and a beautiful natural environment.

Feeling overwhelmed, under pressure, and in dire need of a Calgon moment? Michelle Skedgell of Pierce Cedar Creek Institute and Carol Hendershot of Grand Rapids Center for Mindfulness know just how you feel. And, they decided to do something about it.

Imagine escaping to the serenity of 740 acres of forests, wetlands, lakes and prairies. And, while you’re immersed in this beautiful, natural setting, you enjoy moments of mindful reflection, meals prepared by a master chef, stress-reducing exercises, and fellowship with like-minded women.    

Finding Balance and Ease in a Chaotic World through Mindfulness, Nature, and Food: A Women’s Weekend Retreat promises all of this and more. The two-day retreat takes place from 5:00 p.m. Friday, March 24 through noon on Sunday, March 26, and is located just a short drive away at the Pierce Cedar Creek Institute in Hastings, Michigan.

A women’s retreat? Only for women? That’s right. Co-organizer, Carol Hendershot, feels that, “Women today are often over committed and under resourced.” This retreat will offer a special opportunity for them to de-stress in a kindred environment, while also giving them coping tools to better manage the demands of their daily lives.

Hendershot, who is a certified instructor in both mindfulness and yoga, will lead many of the weekend’s activities. Included are educational sessions on “Mindfulness: The Science of Health and Happiness” and “Bouncing Back: The Art of Resilience;” yoga, gentle movement, and guided relaxation sessions; and nature hikes on the expansive property. 

Guests will be treated to comfortable sleeping accommodations and nourishing meals prepared by Chef Paul Vugteveen. Vugteveen is a seasoned chef with experience working at the JW Marriott in Grand Rapids, Zingerman’s Bakehouse in Ann Arbor, and Avalon International Breads in Detroit. In addition to meal preparation, Chef Paul will provide healthy cooking lessons as part of the retreat package.

The event will close Sunday with the Center for Mindfulness’ signature self-compassion and gratitude circle, intended to leave everyone rejuvenated, refreshed, and reflective on their weekend’s learnings. Hendershot’s goal is for, “Participants to come away with new skills to manage stress and increase resilience—and to experience greater joy and connection with other women.”

In 2015, I attended a similar retreat hosted by the Grand Rapids Center for Mindfulness. While it was in a different location, it was also in a natural setting that allowed for peaceful walks and quiet contemplation. A getaway in every sense. Our group practiced yoga and meditation, experimented with long periods of silence, shared our hearts without judgment, and savored delicious meals. When I learned of this new retreat, I knew I had to spread the word to others. For me, it was an experience unlike any I’d had before. I returned with a new perspective, new friends, and new ways to find more balance in my life.  

Interested? You can register here or contact Michelle Skedgell at 269-721-4190. Early-bird rates apply if you register by February 24, 2017. Want to learn more? Hendershot and Skedgell will hold an informational session on Thursday, February 23 from 6:30 to 8 p.m. where participants can ask questions, take part in a mindfulness session and enjoy refreshments.

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