I remember the days when I would just keep adding to my plate and not taking anything away. I had a really smart consultant kind of Ivy League friend who liked my idea a lot. I was getting some business advice from her. She’s like, “But you know, the name Pause, doesn’t that mean stop?” She said it with such disdain, and I was like, “Yes, but it’s so that you’re unstoppable.”
– Meredith Vaish
Darla LeDoux: Hello and welcome to this episode of Retreat and Grow Rich, the podcast. I’m Darla LeDoux, I will be your host today, and I’m super excited to be bringing you what I think is sure to be a very hot topic, a conversation about virtual retreats, and I have the perfect person to have this conversation with, and her name is Meredith Vaish. Welcome, Meredith.
Meredith Vaish: Hi Darla, thank you. Can’t wait to get started.
Darla LeDoux: Thank you so much for being here, and guys, I want you to know Meredith has something really cool because her business started as a download from Source, which you know I’m a big fan of, and it came in the form of a product, which has led her here to leading retreats and being really innovative in her approach to virtual retreats and individual personal retreats as well. So Meredith is a speaker, writer, retreat designer, and she is the founder of Pause Box. This is a company devoted to helping women go from busyness to breakthrough with the power of the intentional pause. She offers individualized recharge and get clear retreat experiences to help women navigate today’s overdoing, always-on culture. She teaches women that a skillful pause isn’t the absence of doing, it’s actually the most powerful doing there is. Welcome, Meredith.
Meredith Vaish: Excited to be here.
Darla LeDoux: This is going to be such a juicy conversation.
Meredith Vaish: I’m already excited.
Darla LeDoux: I know. So tell me, I actually have chills just reading your intro. It’s awesome. I would love to start with you just sharing a little bit with people about not necessarily how Pause Box was created, but take us back to why is this work something you’re so passionate about. Tell us a little bit about your story.
Meredith Vaish: Yeah. So it started probably a year and a half ago. I was at my corporate job and was given a new assignment. It was a big technology project that I had actually gotten sponsored. So it was like my name was written all over it. I was ready to make this the best transition ever. So, of course, I was working around the clock, we had a consulting team that was working with us too, and of course, their hours are crazy. So it was just nonstop doing, and it was what I loved. So it was really a blind spot for me because I was just putting everything into it, but what I wasn’t doing is I wasn’t giving myself any support, or boundaries, or rest. I actually was working at my kitchen table, and of course, as a mom and someone who is constantly doing for others, I didn’t even have a set up for my computer. I was just literally at the kitchen table and doing stuff in between making meals. So, of course, my form was awful and I was clicking all the time with this right hand, and it just all broke one day.
I went to my keyboard and I just, the pain was so intense in my shoulder and in my arm, and my hand had no strength at all. I couldn’t turn a doorknob and I thought, “Uh-oh. I think I broke something.” Again, I was excited by the project, I didn’t want to stop. I was told to go to a doctor, and they insisted that I take a break. I remember being relieved and thank god I can actually not go back to my mouse, but I was also so embarrassed that I was going to be seen as a broken person, and someone is going to think I’m just gaming the system, or someone is going to think I’m lazy, or someone is going to think that I’m manipulating something when actually all I wanted was a successful program.
Yeah, so that was the beginning of a pause for me. I was forced to go part-time, and as I healed I did a lot of walking with my dog, which is the most healing activity I loved.
Darla LeDoux: The best.
Meredith Vaish: And I did a lot of napping, and I knew that my days were numbered at this corporate gig. I had already reduced my hours previously because I wasn’t really getting the impact that I needed. So as I realized that just cubicle culture was killing me, I knew I needed to find a better way. So that forced pause helped me get some space.
Darla LeDoux: I’m curious about, you said, “I was actually embarrassed that someone was going to think I’m lazy.”
Meredith Vaish: Yeah.
Darla LeDoux: And I’m thinking, I can think of people in my life who have gotten the doctor’s order to relax, right?
Meredith Vaish: Yes.
Darla LeDoux: And I’ve watched people be extremely noncompliant about that.
Meredith Vaish: Yes, yes.
Darla LeDoux: So what was that internal process like for you of first of all, whatever messages you got about laziness versus productivity, and then that internal. Not an easy thing to do to just say, “Oh, I’m going to work less.”
Meredith Vaish: Right.
Darla LeDoux: When you still have a project.
Meredith Vaish: When you’re still on the line. It seems intractable because you can’t throw your usual might at it, and I have an insane amount of productivity power, and yeah, I was really confronted with holy crap, what if for the first time in my life I don’t get this done, and that was … I didn’t like that. I didn’t like sitting with that at all. I remember trying to feel like I had to convince the doctor. She’s just going to think I’m pretending, she’s going to think this is all in my head. I don’t know where I got those messages, Darla, but I guess I was always told buck up and soldier on. Let’s get this done. Make it work. Yeah, and I couldn’t anymore, and it was hard to stay at home because I’ve never, ever, ever asked for help at home, at least in the corporate world you can say, “Hey, can I delegate this piece?” But at home, boy.
Darla LeDoux: So you’re not even working and then you’re needing to ask for help anyway.
Meredith Vaish: Yeah.
Darla LeDoux: Yeah.
Meredith Vaish: Yeah.
Darla LeDoux: So I’ve heard you tell a story about acupuncture.
Meredith Vaish: Yeah, okay. So here I am in my required therapy, and I was really lucky to have an acupuncturist authorized for me, and I had never done acupuncture. So I went in thinking the needles were going to be the thing that I’m like oh, that’s going to hurt. So I go in and she does the assessment, and I think she’s seen a million of me before, and she has me lie down, and she puts in the needles, and I’m thinking, “Okay, this is okay. This is not bad.” And then she says, “Okay, I’m going to leave you for 20 minutes and then I’ll come back in.” So she has the little music going, and she kind of turns up the heat as in laying there with the needles in my back. I’m face down in one of those little massage tables, and I hear the door click closed and I’m alone with myself for the first time I think ever, for 20 minutes, not doing anything, because you can’t move with needles in your back.
The waves of feeling that came over me was so, they were just deep and shaking. I remember feeling relief that I was being cared for. I remember feeling grief, so much grief for like why did it take you so long and why did you let yourself get so broken? I was definitely doing the ugly cry in the doughnut and not knowing how I was going to recover my makeup.
Darla LeDoux: The snot.
Meredith Vaish: Yeah, it’s the perfect gravity. Yeah, so once she came back in I was a mess, but I knew that I was getting the nourishment that I needed and this was part of the process.
Darla LeDoux: Wow. So fast-forward, what have you learned about our culture when it comes to productivity, pacing, proving.
Meredith Vaish: Proving.
Darla LeDoux: Pausing.
Meredith Vaish: Holy crap oly. So there’s no accident that I live in the Bay Area, right? And I live with a man who is a tech exec, and I grew up in my career in startups. So this notion of work hard, work fast, work all the time, innovate, and endless amount of just get it doneness that’s, I mean, I was drawn to this place for that reason.
Darla LeDoux: Yes, the same were about that. I often say our wounding picks our first career.
Meredith Vaish: Oh gosh, that’s so-
Darla LeDoux: And I became an engineer, right? I’m smart, but I never have to have a real opinion because I always have facts.
Meredith Vaish: That’s fascinating.
Darla LeDoux: How did you get drawn to the Bay Area?
Meredith Vaish: Well, so I was lucky enough to be in that whole dot-com bubble in 2000 when we thought the world was going to end, and I was drawn up here because I had gotten laid off from my gig in LA. I was part of an entertainment group that they had dismantled their music label, video label. So I was at a conference actually in Atlanta, and my boss’s boss’s boss called me, and I had only ever seen his name, and he said, “So I need to tell you that we’ve dismantled the company, but you can stay at your conference, and then when you get back basically there’s no job, and good luck.” So I was in the middle of this conference and it was great that I was there because I went into my next session and I said, “Hey guys, if anybody is looking to hire a marketing person, I’m your gal.” And someone is like, “Oh my god, I need one.” Turns out they were in San Ramon, which I don’t know if you know the distance, but it’s like an hour and a half. So I’m like, “Yeah, totally.” And then a guy was like, “Well I need a roommate.” And I was like, “Yeah, totally.” And it was one of those magical moments that just took me from LA to here in the Bay Area at a perfect time.
Darla LeDoux: Wow.
Meredith Vaish: Where all the achievement.
Darla LeDoux: Right, yeah.
Meredith Vaish: It was the perfect time for overdoers, and in fact, in that job, subsequent job, I blew up my thyroid because I was basically caffeinating myself and going full around the clock, not eating well, not resting at all. So of course I didn’t wake up to that. I was just like, “Oh, I’ll just take a Synthroid and call it a day.”
Darla LeDoux: Take a pill.
Meredith Vaish: Yeah, and call it a day. Let’s keep going.
Darla LeDoux: Keep going, keep going.
Meredith Vaish: Keep going.
Darla LeDoux: So how did Pause Box come to be?
Meredith Vaish: So this is an interesting story, and I think it actually ties into what I’m hoping people will hear in this message, which is when I left corporate, this is after I knew I couldn’t heal myself there, and I literally left and said, you know how people sign those little letters and say what they’re going to do next? I was like, I don’t know. So I said, “I’m going to do creative projects.” That was what my … Just going to go do creative projects. I’m sure everyone was like, “Did she get fired? What happened?” I was like, “Okay, I’m just going to go pursue creative projects.” So I negotiated with my husband to get a year of just time to figure out what was coming next, and I’m a pretty disciplined person, so of course I had to have intense structure around my unstructured time, which meant lots of pursuing self-help, and classes, and really mindset work, and also exercise, and movement, and learning meditation, and et cetera.
So anyway, I was like nine months into this year and I had been going through every possible permutation of a business idea, because I’m in the Bay Area and that’s what you do. You’re like that business model, and that business model, and can it scale. I was getting nowhere with that, and it was a very mental activity. Then weirdly I was looking into coaching I think, and I was like, “Nah, that’s not really for me, but what I like about it is those retreats.” This particular program had a retreat at the beginning and a retreat at the end. I was like, “Oh, if I could just do those, all that stuff in the middle not so much, but those retreats. Now, that would be a cool job.”
So I was talking to a woman who that was her program, and she said, she game me some kind of free coaching and she said, “Do you think you could,” Because I was like, “I’m not clear on what I want to do and I don’t know if this is right.” And she said, “What if you just took three months off to not make any decisions.” And I’m like, “I’m sorry, did you just say three months? Because I’ve been going for nine, and nine plus three is 12, and that’s time’s up.” She goes, “Okay. How about three weeks?” And I’m like, “I can do a week.” So I’m negotiating with the coach about how long I-
Darla LeDoux: You’re like, “Come on. I hardly made 20 minutes.”
Meredith Vaish: Yeah. So she said, “Well, if you do believe in a higher power.” And I said, “Of course.” And she says, “Well, why don’t you ask that higher power to show you something that will help you know that this is the right thing to do?” And the minute we got off the call I definitely got a sign that was just spectacularly beautiful and symbolized everything I needed to know. So I said, “Okay. I’m going to take these three weeks off.” And in that time, so I was like, “Well, gosh. What do I do all day?” Because all I’ve been doing is spinning, mentalizing and trying to fix this problem, which is what the hell am I going to do next. Instead, I was like, “Well, if I can’t think about that, well there’s lots of cool stuff I could think about.” And I really wanted to pursue intuition. It was something that I had always loved, and I thought, “Oh, I can just spend some time thinking about that.” And it wasn’t a week later that I got this download.
So it was just in pursuit of doing stuff I really love, of taking a break and switching subjects, and backing off of that thing that wasn’t working, and really playing and being open. Then literally in a meditation sitting the words Pause Box arrived, fully formed, and I remember thinking, “What the hell is that?” But I knew also that it was non-negotiable and that it was like, I will figure it out. It will be revealed to me. So that’s what I’ve been doing ever since. I guess that’s a year and a half, two years ago.
Darla LeDoux: I love you said, “Back off the thing that isn’t working.”
Meredith Vaish: Yes.
Darla LeDoux: So if pushing, or proving, or not resting is the thing that’s not working.
Meredith Vaish: Do the opposite. It’s so simple.
Darla LeDoux: Yeah, but it’s not so easy in practice. So one of the things I know you’ve developed is the four different types of pauses.
Meredith Vaish: Yes.
Darla LeDoux: I want to hear about those, and I want to hear Meredith, we always talk about we teach what we need to learn, and so it’s obvious from your story that pausing was not something that came naturally to you.
Meredith Vaish: Right.
Darla LeDoux: And that being in the Bay Area, looking around, you don’t see a lot of people.
Meredith Vaish: Not a lot of mentors.
Darla LeDoux: Hanging out, pausing. Not a lot of mentors sit for pause. Why do you care so much that people get this, maybe sooner than you did?
Meredith Vaish: Right. So here’s what I wrestle with is. Face value, pause, just means take a break. But what is underneath the promise of that is actually self-creation. So it’s yes, take a rest, and yes, take a break, and yes, take a breath, those are all yeses, and I really feel like if people access the pause in a skillful way, with intention and with that opening of heart and spirit, they, we, I, get clarity. When you have clarity, it’s a superpower. I mean, the energy you have, the inspired action, the flow and ease that comes into your life when you’re clear about something. So yes, pause, but really the payoff of pause for me is the clarity that you get. That’s why I’m so passionate about it.
Darla LeDoux: Awesome, awesome. So tell us about the four types of pauses.
Meredith Vaish: Okay. So the four types, these are kind of your standard. So I think people don’t think they pause in their life. So I kind of wanted to say actually we’re doing it all the time. I get a lot of reasons why people can’t pause. It’s like I don’t want to stop. There’s lots of excuses, but my point is you’re doing it all the time, you might as well do it with intention and with power.
So here’s the first one. The first one is called the distraction, right? So we all come home at the end of the night, at least people that I know do, I won’t out my husband, but yes. We kind of do a little binge watch, literally we have to chill our brain down because it’s so overstimulated. Maybe there’s wine involved, perhaps chocolate. Maybe there’s a little social scrolling happening, and it’s at your kind of your last-
Darla LeDoux: I call it the side by side scroll.
Meredith Vaish: Totally.
Darla LeDoux: Where we sit on the couch and we’re.
Meredith Vaish: You’re like, “We’re bonding.” Yeah, so that’s called distraction, and it has its place, but it doesn’t get to the underlying issue, right? It’s just kind of prolonging the confusion and the cloudiness around what’s up for you. So distraction. The second one is rest, and I’m a huge fan of rest. When I was recovering from my injury, I literally had spots in my backyard set up for me to take a nap. I had one hammock, I had one chaise lounge. I was fantastic at resting, and I think it’s also very important, and there are some people who actually let themselves take naps, but there’s so many of us who don’t. Naps are not going to solve your problem, they’re not going to help you get clear, but what they do help is they help you recover from the stress and injury of your life so that you can be available to that opening.
Darla LeDoux: When you say the stress and injury of your life, say a little more about that.
Meredith Vaish: I have this enormous inner critic and very judgmental, very name-calling, lots of you didn’t do this right, or you could’ve done that better. It’s self-injury really, and I came through a time of wanting to lose weight. This was another big aha for me. I’ve been overweight all my life, but lately in the last two or three years that weight was like, the trajectory was going really high, and I thought, “Holy crap, you’re not supposed to gain weight this late in life. It’s never coming off.” And so because I’m so militant about my behaviors, and my habits, and my analysis, and I was Fitbiting, I was calorie counting. It was astonishing that I was fixating so much on solving this weight problem, and yet there was no solution happening, but I was making myself miserable. I was, talk about self-injury. I mean, the kind of violent talk to myself about what a awful person I was, how ugly I was, how fat I was, how I don’t deserve this or that.
So all that was happening and got myself into a food and forgiveness program with a tapping practitioner who is amazing and a nutritionist. So I did learn some new tools, but really when I realized that I needed to back off from the solutioning, and solving, and fixing my weight problem, that there was actually nothing wrong with me, and that if I was this weight for the rest of my life, it’s totally fine. I was able to back off from that, and then again, find new exciting nourishment around building my own meals at home. So I was able to flip it. So you flip what’s not working and you flip into something that is working, and you get these downloads of insight, and that’s what the pausing really means to me. It’s the backing off, it’s the changing your problem, fixing mindset so that you can get access to that inspiration.
Darla LeDoux: So pause is not a fix.
Meredith Vaish: It is not a fix.
Darla LeDoux: Awesome.
Meredith Vaish: But it is a journey toward a new expression of yourself, and in that way it’s a really creative exercise. I find that it is my most creative time when I need to figure out who I am in my next season, taking a break is essential to listening and tuning into what is that for me.
Darla LeDoux: I love these first two, the distraction versus the rest. I was literally just having a conversation about this with a colleague about rest and what is actually restful to me, to my soul, and watching TV isn’t restful for me. So it can serve that purpose of the transition from work to home or whatever.
Meredith Vaish: Yes.
Darla LeDoux: But ultimately there’s no nourishment-
Meredith Vaish: There is not.
Darla LeDoux: For me personally that happens there.
Meredith Vaish: Agreed.
Darla LeDoux: So I love that distinction.
Meredith Vaish: So the third one, since you reminded me that I have two more to cover, one is the distraction, rest, the third one is basically a forced pause, and that’s what I talked about when I talked about being injured, and I think people get this all the time. They either get ill, they get injury, someone dies in their life, they get laid off from work. So these big humongous events happen and the world is conspiring to get your attention, and that’s a forced pause and it’s probably one of the best things that could ever happen to you because it really does force everything to just go inward and figure out.
Darla LeDoux: What’s your advice for someone if they themselves, or someone in their life experiences a forced pause? Because that’s not the initial reaction.
Meredith Vaish: That’s not the
Darla LeDoux: It’s not like, “Oh great.” Yay.
Meredith Vaish: Awesome, all this time to myself.
Darla LeDoux: There’s usually a lot of resistance and a lot of making wrong, and oh, I shouldn’t be sick. I know in the beginning of my business, when you’re in business for yourself and you’re thinking every day I’m either in business or out of business based on whether I get things done.
Meredith Vaish: Oh that mindset is painful.
Darla LeDoux: I can’t rest.
Meredith Vaish: If it’s not me, no one is going to get it done. Yeah.
Darla LeDoux: Yeah.
Meredith Vaish: So your question is what can we…
Darla LeDoux: Yeah, what strategy. Let’s say your significant other has a forced pause and they’re very distressed about it.
Meredith Vaish: Yes. So my significant other did get a forced pause.
Darla LeDoux: As I said that, I just thought, “Oh, you probably related to that.”
Meredith Vaish: Yes, I can tell you what doesn’t work, telling them that it’s a great opportunity and make it sunshine and roses, telling them that this is for a bigger meaning. I think all that’s really irritating. You actually can’t, you can’t. The best way to help someone who is in that dire of a position is to really shine your own light, and there’s, I think it’s Anne Lamott who says something about the lighthouse doesn’t go running around to try to save the ships. It just stays and it shines.
Darla LeDoux: Yeah.
Meredith Vaish: And I was so actually happy that I was able to go a couple years ahead of him and get the kinks worked out, and learn a little bit about what comes up and what those really scary times are, and then share those stories. There are times where he gets sick of my stories, but there’s also times where he absolutely says, I think he sees it or he feels it. So yeah, no advice giving, for sure. Just a whole lot of love and shining your own love.
Darla LeDoux: I think what comes up for me, I’m curious your thought about this is, and I think also as a coach who holds space for people who are often in this kind of transition, or have a forced pause come up, is not fixing, right?
Meredith Vaish: Yes.
Darla LeDoux: It’s like letting that be okay. It’s almost like I sense that my confidence that it’s all perfect translates.
Meredith Vaish: That’s so brilliant, yes.
Darla LeDoux: Not that I’m saying, “Oh. Yeah, don’t worry about it.” But it’s being able to love someone in the midst of it, versus going, “Oh no, you’re right. You lost your job. Oh my god.”
Meredith Vaish: Now you’re broken, we got to fix this. Yes. That’s a brilliant observation. It’s reminding me of the Radical Acceptance work by Tara Brach, and it’s true. You have to see them as whole and that this is part of their journey, and sometimes even remind them that it’s okay just to feel really sucky, and that’s perfectly fine and you don’t have to have the answers, and in fact not having the answers is the right place to be. So yeah, holding them as whole and radically accepting where they are, not trying to cheer them up like, “Hey, you feel like crap and can’t move off the couch? Have a good day on the couch.” Like it’s all good. Then funny enough they don’t have to defend it, and they don’t have to clutch it, and they don’t have to nurse this little hurt and injury. They can go, “Oh, you’re right. I’ll just set that aside and go do something else. Cool.”
Darla LeDoux: Yeah. Awesome.
Meredith Vaish: Yeah, resistance.
Darla LeDoux: So what’s the fourth pause?
Meredith Vaish: Oh, I’m so glad you remembered to ask me. The fourth pause is the self-creative pause, and it’s the one that we’ve been talking about. It’s the what you do when you’re laid off and you have to figure out what you’re going to do next, or when you retire, or when you end a relationship, or it’s this big space of not knowing, but feeling your way through.
Darla LeDoux: And is that the one I’ve heard you share as the intentional?
Meredith Vaish: Yes, that’s my intentional pause, because any pause downgrades to one of the three unless you have intention. So intention is the thing that happens in that fourth pause, because you either are asking a question and you’re asking about a possibility, or you’re just getting super clear on what feeling that you are trying to cultivate. With those two, questioning and feeling, you have a container for a very intentional forward-moving pause, that by the time you get done you will have an insight and an inspired action that you can take to get more information and start that momentum. So pause to me is a very active process. It’s actually there’s quiet, but it’s not doing anything.
Darla LeDoux: Yeah. Yeah you said, and it’s actually the most important doing you can do.
Meredith Vaish: Yeah, exactly.
Darla LeDoux: Because what happens if someone doesn’t intentionally pause, and of course we share a passion for retreating as a method for that, but if someone doesn’t intentionally pause.
Meredith Vaish: Well, I think you’re heading for a forced pause for sure. I remember the days when I would just keep adding to my plate and not taking anything away. I had a really smart consultant, kind of Ivy League friend who liked my idea a lot. I was getting some business advice from her. She’s like, “But you know, the name Pause, doesn’t that mean stop?” And she said it with such disdain, and I was like, “Yes, but it’s so that you’re unstoppable.” Right? You have to stop in order to be unstoppable.
Darla LeDoux: Stop so you’re unstoppable.
Meredith Vaish: There you go. That’s how I’m going to get all my girlfriends into this business. Going to tell them this is the way to be unstoppable. That’s what they are looking for.
Darla LeDoux: Well, there is some truth to that, right? I mean, it’s not dissimilar to the messaging I’ve been nurturing around Sourced, which is when you know where your truth is coming from, you are unstoppable.
Meredith Vaish: Exactly. Same concept, ditto.
Darla LeDoux: Yeah. It’s beautiful.
Meredith Vaish: I think that’s why I’m so attracted to the work you’re doing.
Darla LeDoux: I’m so excited. Excited for the possibilities.
Meredith Vaish: The possibilities.
Darla LeDoux: Possibilities, yes. So you’re hosting virtual retreats for people.
Meredith Vaish: Yes.
Darla LeDoux: That are an intentional pause, and you also create where they can go do their own retreat, and we’re going to give people a resource for that at the end of this conversation. Talk about virtual retreats and why were you drawn to that and what’s been your experience with that for people.
Meredith Vaish: Yeah, okay. So I love the virtual retreat, and it’s probably a little bit because I came from a corporate world and Zoom was, that was our thing, we just Zoomed all the time. So I was very comfortable with the technology. I knew that it was going to be low barrier and the people that I wanted to reach are incredibly busy and frankly, they’re not awake to this deeper need yet. So they’re still kind of scratching a pretty superficial itch, which is more on the productivity camp. Like can I take some time off so I can be more productive? And that’s fine, that’s my gateway drug. Okay, you want productivity, you want clarity on what that next thing is for you, whether it’s a decision, or a project, or a relationship. So there’s this huge payoff promise with the pause that I do, and the virtual piece was just such a low barrier way for these women to meet me, and obviously I didn’t have any of the skills to select hotels, and I of course never saw myself as a retreat leader. I was just this crazy entrepreneur that was sort of testing out ideas around how to help people pause.
So the virtual stuff becomes very iterative, right? You get to test it out, you get to decide does it work. There are actually a few things that I’ve changed since starting. One was I have now instead of four hours it’s three hours, and what I learned is my energy, it’s very hard to sustain it four hours. Originally I had put a piece in there where they would go and kind of have their own meditation outside, there’d be a break, almost like a half hour to an hour, and I got some feedback like, “Why am I paying you so that I go outside and take a break?” And I’m thinking, “Well, you’re not going to do it anyway.” But there was enough of like a, I don’t know if that’s really a value add, and then of course my energy was kind of plummeting at hour three. So changed that to three hours, way better.
The other thing that I had to play with a little bit was originally I offered it on a Friday, which in the Bay Area everyone takes Friday off or is working from home and can squeeze it in, but then I got some feedback. Oh no, no, it needs to be on the weekends, so I did it on a Sunday. I was so conflicted about doing it on a Sunday. Like that’s my time, I just didn’t feel like it was a good time. So of course enrollment wasn’t that high on a Sunday. So I was like, “Okay good, I can go back to Fridays.” Because that it feels like it’s just like a segue, a transition between your work week and your weekend, and it’s just a perfect time to be considering this stuff. So the only thing that I added, because this could sound like a workshop, and it’s really not, because I wanted it to be this retreat, this kind of self-managed way of creating a container, because I really believe in the container. I mean, Pause Box, box is a container. I’m a full believer of there’s got to be boundaries.
So I created some content ahead of time so all of my participants get a how to get your pause on, sort of how to kit about how do you set up your house so that it’s clutter free, and then how do you turn off all your tech, and how do you get nourishing meals and beverages near you, and how do you tell your spouses or partners, or kids, “I’m showing you the hand for three hours.” And how do you resist. Some people don’t even know that oh, maybe I do always have the news on. I never knew that was something that isn’t helpful. So they’re turning off radios. So there’s a lot of setup in the virtual retreat that I do, that I think helps.
Darla LeDoux: So just getting ready.
Meredith Vaish: Just getting ready.
Darla LeDoux: To pause is going to be a lot of transformation for people.
Meredith Vaish: Yes
Darla LeDoux: And awareness.
Meredith Vaish: Yes. That’s actually one piece that I love about it. Then I want to just tell you about kind of my growth as a facilitator of the virtual thing because the first time I did it, again, I have this hangover as this consultant, right? I always come in and I fix people’s problems, that’s what they hire me for. So I was like, “Okay, this is what we’re going to do here.” I got my three women, they got big problems, big questions, big decisions, and I’m going to come in and I’m going to solve it. Then it was frightening because these were high powered women in worlds that I don’t understand at all, like politics, and academia, and high level consulting. I’ve never had the first-hand knowledge of these businesses and I thought, “How am I supposed to help them?” I have no idea what advice to give them. Of course, you can hear all the flags. It’s actually not about me, it was about them and thank god they are so powerful, and the container that I provided them was so supportive that they actually, despite my need to solve their problem, they were able to find their own answers.
I would say one of the really excellent ways they do that is in my retreat I do a intuition building or accessing exercise called the rip and reveal, and it’s literally taking the questions that you have and kind of putting them blindly into envelopes, and then ripping out images from a magazine, and then evaluating that image without looking at the question, just what does it feel like. Is it a yes, is it a no, does it remind you or your childhood? Whatever story comes there, and then they get to open the question, and then they get to interact with the image again. Oh, okay, and that’s where the possibility, because all the sudden they’re the ones making the links, they’re the ones making the connections.
Darla LeDoux: That sounds so fun.
Meredith Vaish: It’s so much fun. My eighth grader did it because she was trying to decide which school she was going to, and she was like, “Mom, all the girls are saying I need to do a pros and cons list.” And I said, “Well, pros and cons are good, but your intuition has a lot to say.” And she’s like, “Do you think I could do a rip and reveal on this?” And she did. She came home, and she got her little magazines, and she’s picking about her problem, and it was-
Darla LeDoux: How cool is that.
Meredith Vaish: In 10 minutes she had absolute knowing of what school was “right” for her and I didn’t have to do a thing. She accessed all that, and that was like heaven because she could’ve spun. She’s a mentalizer too. She could’ve just spun out on this for months, but it was like, “Nope, I got it.” The hit is very clear.
Darla LeDoux: Meredith, that’s so cool.
Meredith Vaish: Yeah, I love it.
Darla LeDoux: Awesome, okay. So we’ve got some of the logistical things that people, if they want to do virtual retreats, they would want to work out.
Meredith Vaish: Oh, yes.
Darla LeDoux: What is the length, what is the timeframe that works for you. Don’t be afraid to make it work for you. You don’t have to work on a Sunday if you don’t want to work on Sunday.
Meredith Vaish: Do not.
Darla LeDoux: And then this idea of the container, that it’s not just three hours of whatever, it is setting the stage, making the time. We both know that the energy and intention that they bring to that conversation creates a lot of the outcomes.
Meredith Vaish: Yes.
Darla LeDoux: Their goals, and their intentionality with it. Then I think it’s really interesting the insight around taking a break and having them meditate or go for a walk, and I think this really speaks to knowing your audience.
Meredith Vaish: Yes.
Darla LeDoux: If someone’s never done that, they’re probably not going to do it without help is what I’m sensing, right?
Meredith Vaish: Right.
Darla LeDoux: Even though they should and it would be really valuable, I’m guessing that you’re guiding them through some kind of relaxing or meditating.
Meredith Vaish: Yes.
Darla LeDoux: Rather than sending them off to do it.
Meredith Vaish: Yes. So I might actually bring this back in at some point as my…
Darla LeDoux: It might be an advanced practice for people.
Meredith Vaish: For sure. I do ask them to do some movement in the morning to kind of keep their afternoon clear so that they’re not rushing into kind of social commitments. I think this goes to my own confidence as a retreat leader. I think when you have a gap in programming, which is not a gap because it’s actually the most important programming possible, which is sitting and listening to yourself. For my fixing mindset, that was very scary because I couldn’t fix them while I wasn’t in front of them and facilitating them, but all of them have gone away. One person went and did a dance to a favorite song. One person noticed chimes and how the chimes interact and how there were three chimes and those were three legs of her life. So deep, deep rich meaning when they step away from the group to have just even 10, 15 minutes of quiet time, and then they step back in and they share what came up for them, and it always has to do with whatever insight they’re working on, and it’s always super powerful.
Darla LeDoux: So beautiful.
Meredith Vaish: So it’s a key element that I tend to sometimes leave out because you’re rushing toward the goal of getting everyone into their insight, but it should not be rushed.
Darla LeDoux: It’s interesting because it takes such a power to help someone pause. It really is a powerful energy to hold because we’re so programmed, our resistance comes up so strongly.
Meredith Vaish: Yeah.
Darla LeDoux: And I’ve had my own journey with this, so probably appropriate to share. I had a coach once who told me to do nothing for a weekend, and I remember sitting on my porch, staring out at traffic and thinking, “What-
Meredith Vaish: What the F.
Darla LeDoux: The fuck?” I think I made it two hours before I was like, I don’t know what I did. I think I wrote some stuff. I probably wrote a book or something. I was supposed to be doing nothing. Then I also had a coach once who sat with me while I napped.
Meredith Vaish: Now, that’s beautiful. I love that one.
Darla LeDoux: And she said, “Oh, imagine people what they would think if they said, ‘Oh, I just got paid to watch my client nap while I scroll social media.'”
Meredith Vaish: Yes, but so essential. Now, that one I love because you wouldn’t have done it on your own.
Darla LeDoux: No.
Meredith Vaish: You needed the container.
Darla LeDoux: And there was a lot in the context, there was so much that was integrating for me energetically that it was like my body just needed that rest, but the thought is, “Oh I only have so many hours.”
Meredith Vaish: Got to maximize.
Darla LeDoux: Like we got to get the information.
Meredith Vaish: Yes.
Darla LeDoux: But we both knew that that wasn’t what was needed in that moment. So yeah, beautiful. So the other piece, I love this exercise. So I want people to go check out your next virtual retreat.
Meredith Vaish: Yes.
Darla LeDoux: To see what questions they want.
Meredith Vaish: Rip and reveal.
Darla LeDoux: Yes, it’s so juicy.
Meredith Vaish: What’s waiting?
Darla LeDoux: I think something, what’s coming up for me to share with people, because I talk with retreat leaders all the time who have ideas for things but then they diminish them, or they think it’s not valuable, and it’s like how juicy is that. I’m guessing people listening are going, “Ooh, I want to do that exercise.” What did it take to trust yourself versus going, “Oh, these people are going to think I’m crazy, to put their thing in a envelope”?
Meredith Vaish: Dude, I have no idea how I got the courage to do that.
Darla LeDoux: Yes.
Meredith Vaish: I had set the date, the time, ticktock, it was happening. I needed to have something, and I had come up, I had read this book, and it had kind of a twist on this. I was like, “Oh, I could do it this way.” And I was just in total ideation mode, and I was like, “Fuck it. Let’s just go see.” And again, this was all the weight, the heaviness was off of this because this was all information for my actual box. So this was never “a real” thing anyway, so I could hold it very lightly, and in so doing.
Darla LeDoux: Accidental brilliance.
Meredith Vaish: There you go. It was the perfect way to create a beautiful experience, by not trying to fix it, or force it, or solve it.
Darla LeDoux: I remember my first retreat, I had people do what I call a people scavenger hunt, and when they arrived at the hotel, they got their assignment. So they got a little envelope presented to them with this assignment, and it was due by 9:00 AM the next morning.
Meredith Vaish: Oh god.
Darla LeDoux: And I had never done this. I didn’t care how it went, it was more about the experience of it, right? I actually, I think I have this in the experience library in my course, but I was holding my breath and like, they’re either going to show up mad at me.
Meredith Vaish: Yes
Darla LeDoux: Or this is going to work really well. I’m not really sure, but it ended up working really beautifully.
Meredith Vaish: Both. Yeah.
Darla LeDoux: Yeah, some people were mad and some people loved it, and some people were excited to win, and some people, it all worked perfectly.
Meredith Vaish: It all works perfectly. That’s the whole what’s in the way is the way, and when people get stuck, it’s a perfect door to figuring out what’s next. I can imagine my reaction to that exercise, would not be excitement. I’d be like, “Yuck.” And that would be me needing to grow.
Darla LeDoux: Yeah.
Meredith Vaish: Yeah, and you’re so good about that.
Darla LeDoux: Reveal something.
Meredith Vaish: Exactly, very.
Darla LeDoux: Amazing. So talk about when people want to do a pause at home. You have a resource for that. What are some of your top tips? How can they get the resource?
Meredith Vaish: Okay. So the download is on my site, which I think you’ll put in the show notes.
Darla LeDoux: I will, and it’s at Pauseboxco.com/gift.
Meredith Vaish: Yes. That is where it’s at, and it’s essentially 10 essential steps to a skillful pause, and it’s reminding me of your instruction to go relax or whatever that instruction was at best.
Darla LeDoux: Right, yeah. Debilitating instructions for.
Meredith Vaish: I do that. The people I’m serving have no clue as to how to do that, and I was one of them. So I thought, “I will just bottle up what worked in my experience.” And it’s a beautiful experience through intention setting and movement, stillness. There has to be some awe or inspiration, and definitely reflection.
Darla LeDoux: I was missing the awe.
Meredith Vaish: Oh, the awe.
Darla LeDoux: When I was just staring at traffic.
Meredith Vaish: All those cars. Well, you know you could think abundantly. The world is filled with cars. Look at all that abundance. Yes, the awe. The awe, you cannot have a retreat without awe. It’s my secret weapon.
Darla LeDoux: That’s beautiful.
Meredith Vaish: I just stare up at my tree in my backyard. That’s enough awe for me, but there’s also other ways to get awe. So yes, it’s all there, and it’s also a nice reminder that sometimes retreats can be a little scary. Things come up and you’re by yourself, and a lot of people aren’t used to being by themselves with the noise off, and the phones off, and separation off. So there’s also some soothing, it’s going to be okay, and it’s really worth it, so keep going.
Darla LeDoux: Yeah, amazing.
Meredith Vaish: Yeah.
Darla LeDoux: Awesome. So everybody go get that download. Let us know if you pause. So definitely connect with Meredith over on social. You’ll see her info in the show notes, and let us know here at Retreat and Grow Rich if you take this and run with it and what comes up, because that’s always helpful information and we want to build the tribe of people who are advocating for the intentional pause.
Meredith Vaish: Yes.
Darla LeDoux: So please let us know.
Meredith Vaish: Thank you.
Darla LeDoux: Thank you, Meredith.
Meredith Vaish: Brilliant.
Darla LeDoux: This was so fun. Thank you for who you are in the world, and I’m so excited to be on this path with you.
Meredith Vaish: Yes, thank god. Appreciate it.
Darla LeDoux: Bye everyone.
Meredith Vaish: Bye.
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