My Not-So-Crazy Week-long Retreat

Posted On: September 24, 2014

At the start of 2014, I set the intention to take a week-long personal retreat every three months amongst other ones made.

I realised it was not a good-to-have, but a must-have rest so as to remain the best I can be for my clients. I am taking the fourth of four week-long retreats this week (Sept 24 to Oct 1, 2014).

To date, these are/ were the retreat dates:


As you probably have managed to calculate (perhaps with your fingers), these retreats usually lasted more than seven days, more like nine. That’s because I try to include my usual two off-days a week.

In Singapore, where leave from work for salaried employees start from seven days, week-long retreats are unheard of. In fact, I am the only Singaporean I know who is doing this.

Why A Retreat?

How does one take so many days a year off work, and still remain financially viable? She must be rich/ doing well/ lazy/ crazy, you might be thinking. For me, it boils down to chicken-and-egg. What comes first? Work or play? Do we work to live, or live to work? Is work a passion, pleasure, or a pain?

For me, my work is my passion – it is absoluely all consuming. I give so much to my clients, and give so little to myself that it was only a matter of time before it took a psychological toil on me. Last year, I had an outbreak of shingles at the peak of the haze. I had originally assumed it was due to the stress of the haze (not being able to get masks; worrying about my parents; and just having low immunity), but when I was urged to meditate on it – and did – the answer came.

As a highly sensitive person and an introvert at heart (yes, believe it!), I was so drained from seeing people all the time that my inner dialogue begun to sound like this: “I wish I didn’t have to see anyone.” Unsurprisingly, my shingles, though minor, appeared near my left eye (a.k.a. don’t want to see anyone)!

My body was sending me a message – loudly, and I could ignore her no longer. A physically tired, emotionally depleted, and psychological frayed Martha is no fun, and not good for anybody including herself. Because, and preciously because, I am so committed, so in love, so passionate about my work that I must rest so that I can be the best version of me for my clients, for the important work that I do, for my soul’s calling to serve humanity.

What comes first?

Work or play? For me, I am taking the time to slow down and smell the roses. For without slowing and enjoying the process – what is it really about? It’s a matter of work and enforced play. When work is passion, pleasure and also pain (at times!) all-in-one, one needs to be even more mindful of when the lines blur into the unhealthy.

With such clarity, money or the lack of it is secondary. I make my week-long retreat happen because I have to. There is no two ways about it. This week, I am in Bangsar, Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia. I am fortunate in being able to retreat in a beautiful space in exchange for cat-sitting service. I am still seeing clients on a limited basis via skype.

As a sexologist, I learned about, coach on, and model boundaries for others – including between personal and public spaces and times. Therefore, I enforce it for myself: I rest. I meditate. I fast. I plan. I study. I write. I rethink. I regroup.

On the way up to Kuala Lumpur, I watched the movie Jobs on the bus. Now, why bus when I could have flown? I love travelling – the mystery of the yet-to-come, the whisper of an adventure, the space between leaving and arriving – and prolonging what’s delicious has become my natural preference.

I was struck by this quote by Steve Jobs:


I take the time to go within. I will emerge and continue on my journey.



Sooner than you realise.


Once again, I’d like to invite you to view the three videos I made during my second retreat here. Read about why I cried on the bus going up to KL. Also, check out how you can run a self-retreat here! More posts on this retreat coming up. Follow this blog!

If you liked this post, please leave your comments on Facebook and Twitter and in the meantime, keep loving, live life fully and stay lovely!

Dr. Martha Tara Lee is Founder and Clinical Sexologist of Eros Coaching. She is a certified sexologist with a Doctorate in Human Sexuality. She provides sexuality and intimacy coaching for individuals and couples, conducts sexual education workshops and speaks at public events. For more, visit or email

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