How the Five W’s of Life Can Help Make the Most of a Wellness Retreat

Last updated May 30, 2024

Just as the five W’s play an important role in journalism, there are also five W’s of Life that can be used as a framework for self-discovery. 

I am writing this one week after completing a five-day spiritual wellness retreat in Tulum, Mexico. My thoughts have been fluctuating between reflecting on 2021,  visualizing my 2022 dreams and goals, and coming back to my breath and processing this experience. 

My takeaways? The power of a wellness retreat is life-changing. It’s designed to leave you feeling more aware and focused than when you arrived. 

And by using the five W’s of Life as the foundation for reflection, not only will you be able to step into your power but you will also experience an unforgettable wellness retreat. 

Five W’s of Life takeaway #1: Own WHO you are because this is what makes you special. Do not change for anyone. Shed and release self-judgment. 

Through gratitude practices, daily journaling, a challenging Temazcal ceremony, ecstatic dance, self-love and human connection exercises—and having a safe space to openly share my thoughts and feelings—my level of self-love and acceptance has increased. 

This was not an overnight transformation, however. There is a significant and noticeable shift that I will certainly feel in my daily life back home. Throughout the wellness retreat, I was more present in my daily thoughts and actions. I also took time to consider how they align with my higher self (best version of who you want to be).  

One way I am reminding myself of who I want to be is to regularly ask: “Who do I desire to embody and be today or this year?” 

To gain a deeper insight and understanding of who you are and how you can own being and living as your higher self is to reflect and acknowledge what you’re offering to the world in your different roles. 

How do you show up as a friend, daughter, brother, grandma, parent, employee, boss, entrepreneur, lover and partner? What do others say about you in these roles?  

Own WHO you are becauase that is what makes you special.

During my wellness retreat, we had multiple opportunities to express the strengths, transformation and growth we saw in each other. In this open and vulnerable setting, I felt what others say about me resonates at my core. 

I felt empowered because I already knew deep down that everything that was said about me is to be true. But I had lost connection to it.

I was reminded to own who YOU are. We all have unique gifts, talents, thoughts, ideas and perspectives to share with the world. 

Others may not understand or agree with what you share. What I’ve come to realize is that we can’t let others’ expectations or opinions of who we are, prevent us from sharing, showing and being our authentic selves.  

You’re not going to please everyone. Recognizing and having awareness of the fear of judgment is the first step to changing and letting go of that belief. 

Five W’s of Life takeaway #2: WHAT lies ahead will always be a mystery. Do not be afraid to explore, go without a plan and surrender to the flow of life.

During the wellness retreat, there were times we were running behind schedule due to unexpected delays. The analytical Virgo in me felt the impulse to want to keep up with the schedule and “rush” to get back on track. 

Letting a plan “fall in place” and honoring our bodies to slow down and rest, for example, is more important than rushing to the next activity. Slowing down could allow new plans and opportunities to flow with more ease.

Letting go of planning can create uncertainty. Through uncertainty, we develop and strengthen our resilient, innovative and creative muscles. Failure and mistakes make us stronger and smarter. 

Embracing the mystery, uncertainty and inevitable change is a way to grow and move toward our goals. As Einstein quotes, “We can’t solve a problem with the same level of thinking that creates the problem.” This is an example of why exploring outside of our comfort zone can be a fertile ground for goal success and achievement. 

WHAT lies ahead will always be a mystery.

Don’t be afraid to fail forward. I totally fumbled through my words during group discussions as I worked on embracing being vulnerable and letting go of self-judgment, especially when it comes to publicly speaking about my own self-love struggles. 

When it comes to opening up, releasing fears and being vulnerable, it can be liberating while also terrifying at the same time. Don’t be afraid to explore, embrace the day and uncertainty. 

Whether that’s applying for a new job, speaking up at a meeting, attending a retreat in a different country, going on a solo road trip and/or vacation, or asking the person you keep bumping into at the farmer’s market to join you for a coffee. 

We don’t know what is going to work or not work unless we try. Taking the opportunity to do things out of your comfort zone helps build self-trust and resilience to handle going through the flow of life. 

Reframe “failure” as “feedback” and information that will help you pivot, try again and get closer to embodying your higher self. 

Five W’s of Life takeaway #3: WHEN life pushes you over, push back harder. Challenges and obstacles are detours in the right direction.

One of the wellness retreat activities we did is a traditional Mexican detoxifying Temazcal ceremony. As I crawled into a dark hut at the beginning of the ceremony, I had no idea that I was about to be blasted with two hours of intense heat and complete darkness. 

For the duration of the ceremony, I was forced to be fully present with the fact that I was feeling mentally and physically uncomfortable. All I could focus on was my face burning from the heat, my breathing, our group singing and feeling the cool stone wall giving the smallest amount of relief and comfort on my sweaty back. 

Afterward, I crawled out of the hut smiling, feeling accomplished and invigorated. I reflected that if I could get through something like this, there are other “hard” life things I can push through and come out stronger. 

Our body physiologically doesn’t know the difference between fear and excitement. Both emotions elevate our heart and breathing rates and activate the same areas of the brain (limbic system). 

WHEN life pushes you over, push back harder.

If you experience fear about not making it to your goal after experiencing a challenge or setback, reframe that fear into faith and excitement. Trust that things will work out. 

Feel the sweat and pressure of the heat. Use this challenge as an opportunity to connect back to the present moment. During the ceremony, I remember thinking: “You got this, you can make it through.” I felt determined to push back and keep going. 

Your life and your goals are worth it. You are capable of bouncing back from any setback that life throws at you. 

Five W’s of Life takeaway #4: WHERE there are choices to make, there is opportunity to manifest your dream life. Step into that highest version of YOU.

You have control over your thoughts and actions as well as the decisions you choose to make. You can direct your life by controlling your thoughts and surrounding yourself with who you want to become. 

Our life is shaped by our mind and environment. We become what we think and interact with consistently.

During our daily morning yoga and journaling sessions, we reflected on and set an intention for how we wanted to do our practice and interact throughout the day. My intentions revolved around honoring and respecting myself, freely being me, celebrating my body and all that she is capable of, being open and letting my thoughts and actions flow freely. 

Setting a daily intention allows you to take conscious action steps that align with that higher version of you.

In addition to yoga and journaling, we also meditated. Research reveals that meditation increases the gap between a stimulus and a response (a reaction or choice to act) when we are deciding on how to respond. 

WHERE there are choices, there is opportunity to manifest your dream life.

Getting enough sleep also impacts our ability to make less reactive choices. Reframe and shift your mindset from a victim state to one of empowerment. Choose to look at life happening for you, not to you. Take responsibility for the choices you make. 

Doing so allows you to embrace the rewards of good choices and to learn and grow from poorer choices. You are always ONE choice away from changing your life. 

Ask yourself: is this choice moving me closer or farther away from my goals or vision? Remember, it is possible to choose to enjoy your life right now while also working toward the future of what you want your life to be. 

Five W’s of Life takeaway #5: WHY you should take the leap. Whether a small or big leap, take it in stride. Trust that this experience is going to propel you forward and uplevel your well-being. Anything is possible.

Why invest in a wellness retreat? Ask yourself the following, especially if you’re feeling a restless energetic stir in the pit of your stomach. Are you going through your daily routine mindlessly on autopilot? If yes, do you feel like you could be doing, feeling and experiencing more than working, eating, sleeping and waiting for the weekends?

A wellness retreat is an amazing experience to connect to different sides of yourself mentally, physically and spiritually. Before the retreat, I was feeling stuck and uninspired—going through the motions. 

WHY you should take the leap.

I needed to reconnect with myself on a deeper level and physically be in a setting that supported and encouraged me to do and be more. I am walking away from this experience feeling empowered, confident and in alignment with my higher self. A sense of presence and meaning has been added back into my life. 

What version of you are you stepping into today and what is one step you can take to get there?

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