In May 2023, I was fortunate enough to have the most magical five-day experience when I attended the ‘Find Your Freedom’ retreat in stunning Evia, Greece.
The retreat was led by the wonderful and truly inspirational Ben Bidwell. I had done breathwork with Ben before and, when I heard he was doing a retreat in Greece, I kept feeling the pull to go. But travelling to Greece on my own was completely out of my comfort zone. Despite my trepidation, I decided to be brave and go for it: I am so pleased that I did.
Mark (my son) and Leo (my dog) took me to Luton Airport at 4am (I know, what a son) and came into departures to see me off, including Leo. As I went through departures and turned around to wave, it really hit home. This is it. I’m really doing this. I am going to Greece on a retreat! Once I was through security and had ordered myself a lovely breakfast, I felt I was already starting to find my freedom and it was quite liberating.
After a long day of travelling, we were met by Ben at the retreat. The view was stunning, we enjoyed a very welcome meal, had an introductory workshop and I instantly relaxed.
Days on the retreat began at 8am and were packed full of theory and practical workshops. Each session was unique – and often challenging – enabling you to go deep inside yourself, releasing fears, stuck emotions, and clearing the way in your hearts for clarity and freedom.
The retreat combined connection, adventure, relaxation and growth, through life changing personal development in a beautiful, serene location. Finding your freedom is all about leaning into your fears and unhelpful patterns. Ben had an amazing ability to deliver powerful breathwork and heart opening sessions, but with such tenderness and care. There were many tears on this journey, but never did you feel judged; I felt nourished with compassion within the safe space which Ben held for us all.
We experienced various forms of meditation, including Osho meditation, which is all about just witnessing the body, mind and feelings without judgment. And we explored the difference between being ‘wholeheaded’, where you are dictated by thoughts, and ‘wholehearted’, where you connect to your deepest truth and listen to your inner GPS, embracing all of who you are. We come alive when we listen deeply, when we do the inner work and create more connection to the heart, rather than being attached to ‘thoughts’, constantly trying to work things out or people please. We also discussed ‘head life’ and ‘heart life’ in extensive, challenging and extremely interesting conversations, where we considered why we so often ignore those ‘gut’ feelings, going with our head instead of our heart.
On the last evening, we had to perform something of our choosing in front of the group. My heart immediately starting racing as this was completely out of my comfort zone. I decided to recite a poem, but then thought I’d also do a Zumba dance! Beforehand, I practiced in my room, trying to remember steps from my Zumba class. When the time came, I went first (thought I’d get it out of the way 😉) and realised it didn’t matter whether I remembered the steps or not because I felt so supported by my lovely group. It was so liberating – I was doing something I loved without any fear at all. It felt really meaningful to be embracing it from my heart, rather than being led by my head which had triggered that instant fear. A round of applause and cheering helped at the end too and I was so proud of myself! You can hear the song I danced to on the Reel on my Instagram page.
There was time to play too and we enjoyed fun time paddle boarding in the stunning, clear waters. This was another activity that was definitely outside my comfort zone as I had never done it before, but I embraced it, gave it a go, and loved it.
Our group connected straight away and quickly formed a very special bond, supporting each other during the retreat. We met as strangers and left as friends and will stay in touch. In fact, we have already had a catch up via Zoom to check in with each other, which was lovely.
I am hugely grateful to the Live Free Fund – established in memory of our colleague Zara who lived life to the full (just like my late mom) – which made this magical adventure possible. I feel very blessed to have had this opportunity. I had the privilege of knowing and working with Zara. She was a very special, beautiful person. I know she would have been so proud of me undertaking this journey and I am sure she was with me every step of the way encouraging me and saying: “Go on Jayney, you’ve got this”.
The experience has been literally breath-taking. It has allowed me to go deeper within myself enabling me to feel liberated with a renewed zest for life, inner peace and freedom.
My heart feels so full and warm.