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Why Include Mindfulness in Designing Your Life for Women Retreats?

 “When you rest in mindful awareness, you are participating intimately in life as it is unfolding, seeing what happens, experimenting, allowing the original beauty and mystery of the world and of yourself to speak to you…” 1


In our Designing Your Life for Women retreats, we weave mindfulness in as an integral part of the design thinking process. We have found that mindfulness is an important part of discernment and intentional living, and it often gets overlooked in the busy lives we live.


“One of the strengths of this program is the mindful moments which bring us clarity and grace.”          –DYL for Women participant


There is no one right design, one road to success, or one best life. Instead design thinking starts with “you are here” and offers a method and set of tools to build your way forward. Exercises further help you understand what brings meaning and joy to your life.  In our Designing Your Life for Women retreats, we complement this wayfinding with mindful moments to help women identify what rings true for them.

We use mindfulness to enrich our discussion on discernment – the process of knowing. While there are many ways to know and make choices, our western society has over-valued cognitive knowing at the expense of physical, spiritual, emotional, and social knowing. In our retreats, we help women sharpen their ability to discern what’s important to them, identify what they must unlearn, and pinpoint paths to explore for the future. We consistently receive feedback that these moments of awareness help participants to transform what they are learning into the actions they want to take.


My favorite moment was when I had to pause, reflect, and be aware of what I was feeling regarding the balance in my life.”          –DYL for Women participant


The research on breathing, meditating, and mindfulness is conclusive and positive. There is a tiny neuron cluster in the brain that links breathing to relaxation, attention, excitement, and anxiety. The practice of controlling and slowing our breath to shift our consciousness from an aroused or frantic state to a more meditative state triggers increased tranquility and a sense of well-being.2 In addition, Mindfulness Based Stress Relief (MBSR) programs have proven that a consistent mindfulness practice can reduce stress, anxiety, and chronic pain.3 With findings like these, it just makes sense to integrate mindfulness when trying to do something as important as designing your life!

To learn more about mindfulness and how Andrea Ciafardini, our mindfulness instructor, integrates mindfulness into our Designing Your Life for Women retreats, watch this short video.

1 Kabat-Zinn, John, creator of the Stress Reduction Clinic and the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care, and Society at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, October 1, 2009.

2 Krasnow, at USCF, 2016.

3 Kabat-Zinn, John, 1982; Kabat-Zin et al 1992.

Image credit: Doug Neill: http://www.thegraphicrecorder.com/2012/11/07/mindfulness-framed-print/