This retreat explores our unique experience of life through sharing, listening and learning together.
There are many situations that affect our ability to bear children. For those of us who are unable to carry a child, or be a mother, the emotional devastation can be overwhelming. Loss of both direction and purpose are usually part of this experience. In a world that does not recognise this terrible grief, the experience of being childless can be extraordinarily painful and isolating.
This retreat is an opportunity to come together with a group of women who have wanted to be mothers. There is a strong emphasis during the 5 days on gentle self care and kindness towards yourself and others in the group. We will share our experiences and be witnessed in our loss and grief within a safe and supportive environment. Though the unfulfilled rite of motherhood is deeply wounding, an opportunity remains to redefine our identities and futures, honouring how we have changed through this difficult rite of passage.
Each of us brings our own wisdom and strategies of coping with our grief, as well as our own pain and the need to be heard and witnessed in this. Being gently supported by other women, who understand this loss in their own lives and tapping into the collective wisdom of the group are valuable resources in this process.
It may be hard to believe in the possibility of feeling acceptance with regard to the grief of not having children, but when you are ready - and not before that - your perspective and feelings around your situation have the potential to change.
Through introspection and the shared expression of our journeys there is the opportunity to honour our grief and to find ways to gently weave it into our lives. We will sensitively encourage each other to explore what is meaningful, to remember what inspires us, to engage in regular self care and to reclaim simple moments of joy.
Our emotional health is also dependent upon our relationship with the natural world around us. We will be tapping into the reflective opportunities that nature provides for us and observing the self care, loss, grief and renewal that is continually going on around us in the forest. Our solo contemplative walks in nature will be significant in assisting our process of self understanding.
Our time together each day in council will be considered both sacred and confidential. We will use simple ceremony to open and close the circle, facilitating a time of deep listening and reverence for each other. It’s a very a powerful space that we will be creating and we look forward to sharing in it with you!
What Is The Program For The Retreat?
The 5 days of the program follow a similar pattern of sitting together in council each morning.
On the first day we will be focusing on self care.
In the afternoon a shorter council discussion circle will be followed by a themed, solo reflective walk in nature. There will also be the opportunity to engage in your own centering practises such as yoga and meditation, or, simply earthing yourself by lying on the ground and feeling supported.
Each morning, beginning on the 2nd day, there will be time to share the story of your reflective walk and the thoughts and feelings generated during that time alone in nature.
On the 3rd day we will have a ceremonial event in the afternoon with the opportunity, if it feels right for you, to publicly acknowledge and farewell the unborn children in your life. An lovely massage therapist will be available during the afternoon and evening on this day if you would like to purchase this extra service.
During the last 2 days our focus will shift towards the next phase, preparing you to return to your home/work life with clear self care and support strategies in place.
On the 5th night we will share a celebratory dinner, hopefully with a fire, (weather permitting)
Is this retreat for me?
If you are a childless woman who wants to feel a sense of community and to be able to share her life stories in a culture of acceptance and kindness with other childless women - then yes!
If you need some sisterly support in facing the terrible loss and grief in your life through not being able to have children - then yes!
If you are afraid that once you open the flood gates of your grief you may never stop crying - then yes! The other women on the retreat will know your distress in themselves. In this particular social situation you may well cry but you will be met with deep understanding. We get it. We have lived it too. We will all hold each other as carefully as we are able.
If you want to further explore your self care strategies and gently feel into where the inspiration still resides inside your mind and heart - then yes!
If you want to invest in life affirming self love and share that with like minded women - then yes!
If you want to experience the nurturing support of a natural environment - then yes, yes, yes, yes , yes!
On your arrival
On the evening of Sunday the 10th of November you will be welcomed and orientated to the land and the facilities before settling into your glamping accomodation. A simple and delicious meal is provided for each evening, along with breakfast and lunch for the 5 days.
The land Inanna is surrounded by the Grampians (Gariwerd) National Park with magnificent views to the sandstone escarpment
It consists of 100 acres of dry sclerophyll forest and 50 acres of meadow clearings inhabited by kangaroos, emus, echidnas, many wedge-tail eagles and an incredible diversity of plants, birds and insect life.
The land has previously had a farming history and there is evidence of this on various parts of the property. Like all of us, the land has places where it’s still wounded, places of healed scars and places of undisturbed peacefulness. It is a delightful and rich environment in which to spend 5 days within the heart of nature.
A fire trail encompasses the entire property and is 4km long. We ask that you respect the fire trail as the most outer limit for your daily contemplative walks. Beyond the fire trail it is particularly easy to become disorientated in the forest. Please note, you will be asked to sign a statement with regard to your agreement to respecting these boundaries, both for your physical safety and the emotional safety of the group.
The Retreat Facilitator
Suzan spent almost two decades of her life focused on becoming a mother. When it became apparent that this life path wasn’t available to her she spent the next 8 years struggling with incredible grief and isolation. At 51 her grief is now finely woven into a life filled with inspiration and purpose. (You can read more about her journey with childlessness here.)
Suzan completed a Bachelor of Nursing in 2002. Since then she has mostly worked in wild places, delivering adventure expeditions including desert treks, bushwalking and kayaking.
More recently Suzan studied with the School of Lost Borders in Colorado learning to guide Wilderness Rites of Passage. The combination of this training, the experience of moving through the grief of not having children and Suzan’s deep experience with the natural world are the corner stones of ‘Beyond the Empty Womb.’ This unique nature based program is designed to support women, without children, to explore what is richly meaningful.
We keep the participant number to a maximum of ten to promote ease and intimacy during the discussion circle.
We value the collective wisdom and strengths of all the participants and the facilitators on our programs.
We ask that everyone who registers for the program reads and signs the Code of Conduct Agreement, guiding behaviour for the duration of the retreat. This will help to facilitate the use of respectful communication and kindness at all times.
You might be getting a sense that there is a lot of structure. It’s there to assist with keeping everyone feeling safe, emotionally and physically. From this stable base we will be most effective in feeling into and expressing the difficulties and grief associated with not being able to bear children and how to be more comfortable within that experience. It’s a challenging process and it requires commitment to both self and to the group to enable a supportive environment for this exploration.
The retreat is held on Suzan and Jon Muir’s land, Inanna. All meals are provided using produce from the garden and wherever possible, locally sourced or Australian ingredients. All the retreat buildings have been created using recycled or re-purposed materials where ever possible. We are continually working towards minimizing our carbon footprint.
Cost of the 5 day retreat
Including all meals and accomodation: $1,450.00 AUD
Please read the Terms, Cancellation Policy and Disclaimer
Shared glamping accommodation in the yacht or walk in tents, with raised camp beds. Single accomodation is also available in small hiking tents with a nylon floor and camping mattress for 5 nights.
Simple bedding for each person- a sleeping bag, inner sheet and pillow.
Beautiful, covered outdoor kitchen area for group use.
Solar camp shower bags and a lovely private shower area.
A commercial composting toilet.
Provisions for 5 Breakfasts; free range eggs, bread, cereal, organic bottled fruit from our orchard, yoghurt, herbal and black teas and brewing coffee.
Provisions for 5 Lunches: bread, cheese, olives, humous and salad ingredients, etc.
5 Evening meals, simple and nutritious vegetarian fare, ( there may be some free range rabbit available for the meat eaters) with eggs from our free range chickens and organic ingredients from our garden, wherever possible. Let us know if you would like gluten free options, or, if you have any other food intolerances.
Snacks of fresh fruit and nuts.
Communal dishwashing and cleaning the benches in the lovely camp kitchen will be part of each day’s activities.
You will need to bring:
A small day pack for emergency gear and your own small first aid kit. On registration you will be provided with an equipment list.
You might like to bring your own favourite snacks.