163: Retreats, Spiritual Achiever and Why Phoenicia


Welcome to episode #163 of the Own Your Best Life Podcast. This week I’m going to share with you a bit of the backstory around my own experiences with retreats and how they’ve influenced and shaped my life. I have found them to be life-changing and for someone who also likes to travel, they have been the balance between going on a trip and making the time even more meaningful. If you’re curious about retreats and why I’ve included them in my coaching work, you’ll learn about why I started going on retreats, how it’s incorporated into the coaching and why the next retreat is going to be in Phoenicia, NY.

I started going on retreats before I had kids. I remember the first one I went to in Tulum, Mexico. I went with a friend when I was in Business school. While everyone else went to party in Playa del Carmen, we were doing yoga and working out. I couldn’t believe that I could eat well, move well and just be in nature for 3 nights straight. It was the best of what I wanted in life all combined. I wanted to tell all my friends to go. Which I did. 3 years later I became pregnant, and I remember flying across the country for work looking out the window, wishing I could go away on a retreat to figure out what I wanted to do next and how to organize my life with a baby. It took another year before I went back with a couple of friends. It was less than a year after the birth of my first daughter – my first trip away by myself, not for work. We were all coming from New York City and the first night we arrived, it was like a giant exhale. We had 30 minutes before dinner and were waiting outside, under the stars. Time passed so slowly that we looked at our watch thinking 20 minutes went by and it was only 5. In all the business of daily life, time expanded. We caught sunrises, biked, looked at the stars and these memories are so imprinted in my mind and so special because I remember where I was in my life at that time. How I heard the word “surrender” during my final meditation on the last day and even though I couldn’t figure it out at that time… It was the beginning of a bigger change to how I lived my life. We all have these moments where our intuition kicks in and while we don’t always understand why or what it means in the moment, in hindsight it is so clear.

The surrender was a bigger sign of career changes and life events that were going to occur. I had already started realizing that I wasn’t truly engaged in my work, but I didn’t know how to stop burning out or make the big changes to my career that seemed scary at the time. I was traveling a lot for work and didn’t know what it was I really wanted to do next. It felt like I had a lot to lose if I took jobs that were less intense, because I had an MBA and management consulting experience. What would I be giving up? It took another close encounter with death, this time it was the 3rd experience – where I realized that time was of the essence and I needed to figure out what I was doing with my life. I had 2 kids now and felt like I was hiding out from life because I would burn out whenever I really took the bigger jobs. In the process, I realized that coaching was my calling. I was to take all the lessons learned with the burnout, the stress, and the spiritual work of knowing what I wanted to do with my time here – to turn it into work that would help others who wanted to figure out how to have big jobs but not burn out and to find the healthiest version of themselves even if they have a lot of work. To give up the need to be validated by society by titles and roles so they could actually spend time living a life they want and take the jobs that seem really interesting. To have their hair stop falling out and stop using their bodies to just get things done. So I built a business where I took people on retreats to make those decisions. Where they would receive coaching on the way their mind was working for or against them. To expand what they thought was possible with their work. To stop making failure their enemy. To have families and health. Wealth, health and love. I called the work Spiritual Achiever Coaching.

One of the first places I went when I was crafting my work around career changes was Phoenicia. I remember crafting the components of the course there and going on hikes with my husband at the time. It was one of our first trips together, just the two of us – after kids.  I couldn’t believe how special this place was, how off the grid it felt with no cell phone access in many places and how close it was to New York city, but also felt so far away. During the pandemic, we went during Father’s Day weekend and took the kids. When I was considering a New York based retreat, the Catskills made so much sense and Phoenicia in particular. The ability to sink deep into relaxation and watch time expand. To be off the grid yet not so far removed. To be able to hike and commune with nature while also creating that next chapter. I’m excited to be guiding retreat participants through the 4 parts of Spiritual Achievement: Spirituality, Achievement, Earth Energy, and Harmony. In addition to daily yoga, chakra healing, nature therapy, ceremony and embodiment practices, you’ll also have the opportunity to participate in group discussions, journaling exercises, and other activities designed to help you deepen your connection with yourself and others. 

If you like this blend of both practicality and mindset, you will love coaching. You can schedule a consultation at www.mayempson.com/contact to learn more about working together and joining this community of like-minded, open and curious seekers. It is the powerful group and private coaching hybrid experience for achievers who want to expand their vision of what’s possible. Twelve months of support, individualized guidance, community and retreats. We will help you build your confidence, trust your intuition and make decisions that you love.

If you’re ready to Own Your Best Life, I want to invite you to watch the free training on how to Stand Out and Lead, using spiritual, high-performance strategies. You can access the training at https://may-empson.mykajabi.com/stand-out-and-lead.

You can then apply to join my Spiritual Achiever® program, where you’re going to create your next chapter with spiritual and high-performance strategies to achieve time and financial freedom using my proven method. It’s risk-free. You either start seeing results within your first month or I give you your money back. Schedule your call HERE. We’ll see you inside.

That’s it for this week. Have an amazing one and I’ll talk to you next time.

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