Micro-Retreats as Medicine

Ariele Foster Getaway House Tiny House in WoodsMicro-retreats = Medicine for Modern Life.

(My review of the new Getaway House outside of DC)

(Slideshow below). Do you occasionally (or predictably) feel the thumb of overwhelm press upon your soul?

I get it. No matter how much I read about the 80/20 rule, acting vs. reacting and the futility of To Do lists, I get bogged down in minutia from time to time.

Both as a retreat leader, and as a retreat participant, I’ve experienced the medicinal dose of temporarily stepping away from obligations of daily life.

But it had been a minute since I got away, particularly since I got out into nature for more than a couple of hours completely agenda-less (without teaching a workshop or attending a festival). I needed a micro-retreat.

When images from a tiny house collection in the forest began stalking me on Instagram, I was all hook, line and sinker.

As far as I can figure, Getaway House is a fairly new concept: tiny cabins, nestled in the woods, outfitted with the necessary (and trendy!) modern amenities. I was curious enough, though, to do a little historical research.

They had me at tiny house.Getaway House Tiny House Cabin Woods Ariele Foster Poncho Woodsy

Unlike cabin motels (“cabin camps” and “cottage courts”), which — according to this oddly fascinating Wiki article — were popularized on highways near national parks from the Great Depression through the 1960s, Getaway cabins don’t face a road or a parking lot.

They are spaced out, not clustered. Each comes with outdoor seating (picnic table) and a fire pit. Spartan though they may be, the feel is somehow luxurious.

In a moment of particular overwhelm, I signed up for my very own getaway for a night.

Just 2 hours from the city, the drive to the Getaway House collection (camp?) closest to where I live in DC is bucolic. You could truly make a road trip of it: you pass various vineyards, a large Wegman’s, antiques stores, an Amish furniture shop, a shooting range, a psychic, at least one yard sporting plastic dear (you’ll turn your head despite yourself), various thrifts, and an ice cream drive through called the “Moo Thru”.

GPS did not lead me astray, and when I arrived at the address, the signage that helps one navigate to their exact cabin was better than most airport signage.

The forecast — a solid 24 hours of non-stop drizzle — was a bit of an emotional test. I was craving sun, and a non-muddy, vigorous hike.

Inside the tiny house

Getaway’s booklet contains yoga tips!

Fortunately, the inside of the tiny home was exceedingly pleasant, smelling vaguely of milled pine, with a pack of cards, various nature books and Getaway guides (some with word-games, yoga sequences, etc), sensory delight from the Pendleton wool blanket, to the red retro mini-fridge, to the actually tasty pre-packaged pourover coffee (I had never seen such a thing!). There was just enough space to roll out my yoga mat, too.

By some miracle, the tiny home fits a queen bed, with a physio-approved mattress (not too soft, not unyielding) alongside a MASSIVE window. The pillows were excellent (my standards are high). A Hario kettle allowed for stylish cup of tea after cup of tea (I brought my own herbal tea since I’m picky, though there were some teas available in the provisions box).

Spoiler alert:

No s’mores? No problem. #GuacamoleIsLife

The rainy weather turned out to be a gift. The lack of campfire and s’mores didn’t dampen my enjoyment one bit. I still fit in a perfect, simple walk in the woods. It turns out that I got something even better than sunshine: according to my sleep tracker, some of the deepest and most REM-filled sleep in weeks.

Was it the soothing rain? The intention of rest? The lack of wifi? (I still had cellular reception).

I’m going with intention: when you prioritize self-care, the self-care happens. It happens on my week-long and weekend-long retreats every time. It happens on micro-retreats, too.

My top 5 favorite things about this micro-retreat:
  1. The HUGE window...through which you can gaze upon rustling leaves (and in my case, grazing cattle) for hours
  2. Witnessing creative, efficient, minimalist design. Cleaning was sooo easy (said no one ever, except at this tiny house). Reminder: we need so little to be happy
  3. Peacefulness. I heard not a peep from neighbors (though they were there in the cabins on either side of us). Don’t even think I heard a car drive by.
  4. Ease of use. Arrival and departure were absurdly easy, and it was so simple to figure out how everything worked once we arrived. No interaction with humans necessary, an ultra-simple way to get into the woods.
  5. Sleep. Ridiculously high quality sleep, even for a fussy sleeper like myself.

If you want your own Getaway retreat, this code will get you $25 off a booking SACREDSOURCE25 (there is no financial gain for me). Although you can roll out your own a yoga mat in the tiny house, there is no space for indoor or sheltered group yoga class. So if you want that, OR if you know you need at least a week or need to go somewhere that even your cell phone won’t get reception, consider joining me on my next international retreat — up next the beaches of Colombia for a New Year’s week myofascial release and yoga retreat.