When the hustle and busy-ness of modern life gets in the way, there is a collective that organises all-women’s retreats in Malaysia that help equip you with the tools to cope.
Text Lina Esa Photography Courtesy of Supparetreat
I used to think I was the only one struggling to keep up with the on-demand life: Eyes dry from too much screen, mind dizzied from a constant influx of phone calls, emails and texts, and being pulled from all sides. It was hard to tear away from that never-ending cycle of being tired and overwhelmed for reasons beyond what was obvious.
The truth is – no one is really alone in their struggles. The power was in recognising that lives in 2019 are complicated, and sometimes we aren’t always able to address the issues we have within ourselves and within the relationships with those who surround us.
When actor and host and talent manager Sarah Lian first started speaking of an all-women’s retreat, it was evident that she and the collective minds of her talent managing firm Suppagood knew that people, in particular women, could benefit from taking time out to introspective, to release emotional blockages, and to arm themselves with powerful tools to stay resilient in a pressurised world.
Sarah and Suppagood then kickstarted Supparetreat, and all-women’s retreat that is organized throughout the year at certain locations throughout Malaysia. When I was invited for Supparetreat which promised to ignite the fire within for 2019, I didn’t really know what to expect, or whether I even knew what I was looking to find within myself.
With a burgeoning schedule and deadlines piling at the time, I almost pulled out. But it was exactly the things that plagued me that meant I needed the retreat more than ever.
BUILDING YOURSELF UP FROM WITHIN
We all lead busy urban lives and are, one way or another, at the whims of something external. Whether it’s the needs of your boss, your family, your work or your partner, sometimes it seems like you serve everyone else except yourself first. Supparetreat wanted to address that, with one of the aims to “learn how to have difficult conversations and start your process of loving yourself”.
The first Supparetreat of 2019 offered an itinerary that was meant to help build up your career and direction, and fulfillment and growth; to cater to all aspects of a busy woman’s life. Racheal Kwacz, Child & Family Development Specialist opened the retreat to introduce us to ideas for us to able to build, review and adapt yourself to achieve goals.
Sarah Lian also spoke on “Being Ready Yesterday” – how to build your own personal brand and leverage on it. The sharing sessions were open, personal, and helped us realise how important it was to be present, stay present, and know and value our worth. Nor Soraya, a self-taught yogi and a fitness influencer also introduced us to the ideas of how to build our own space and to protect the things you love and cherish – giving true meaning of self-care.
A SHARED SAFE SPACE
There were a few things in particular that made this retreat unique. Hannah Lo, who’s a Women’s Relationship Coach introduced us to a Women’s Circle where we fully acknowledged the value and power we bring as a woman, and to break free of the confines of the demands of a rigid world.
“The camaraderie between the participants grew and the bonds we made were stronger and became way more meaningful.”
After an intimate sharing session between us, we were invited to write all our past hurts, doubts, and whatever that plagued us that we wanted to let go of onto a piece of paper. The subsequent ritual of burning that piece of paper was physical and meta-physical – whatever you were holding on to disappeared into thin air and you finally feel release.
Far different from many other events or experiences I had, the camaraderie between the participants grew and the bonds we made were stronger and became way more meaningful. Yes, we opened up about totally personal things to complete strangers, we shared, we cried, and we were ensured a safe space to speak without any judgment or any uncomfortable moments.
EMOTIONAL BECOMES PHYSICAL
Whether you know it or not, we hold tensions and emotion in our body. It might manifest in your shoulders or lower back pain or a tight chest. Hannah Lo took us through a breathing exercise that targeted blocks within our bodies – but the purge did come with ugly-crying to our partner (who would be another participant in the group, but the safe space guarantees you can open up about anything).
To bridge the emotional/physical gap, there was also with yoga by Soraya and intuitive flow by Hannah. With Angel letters (this is where we leave anonymous or signed notes for other participants that are only positive, affirming words) and an Angel Walk (where participants walk blind-folded while everyone whispers positive affirmations) thrown in, you learn to see yourself through the lens of other people.
You’re probably thinking at this point: What happened after all that? What came of it all?
I definitely felt like my priorities were re-aligned. I felt more present in the company of other people, I learned to give people my full attention, and I learned to look at other people with less judgment that I had perhaps had previously.
Knowing my own value and worth meant having a bit more confidence – and viewing myself with a little more kindness and less critically – you learn that it’s always better than the feedback loop you regularly have.
Letting go of the past also means being able to come to terms with things, and finding space to become better for the future.
I also sat down with Sarah Lian for a brief interview, so here she opens up about the aims of Supparetreat, what she was looking to give participants, and what women can take away from stealing away on a retreat with Supparetreat. Hit play to hear it from Sarah herself.