Living in the busy city can be overwhelming. With constant stimuli from all directions, it can be hard to unwind and unplug from it all. Even ten minutes of mindfulness and meditation can seem infeasible.

That’s why Emily Thring (founder of The Quiet Company) is hosting a wellness retreat this month in Muskoka, Ontario, along with Bryonie Wise. Designed for all levels of practice, the Unplug To Plug In Retreat is a two-day movement and mindfulness retreat in beautiful Woodfield, so you can get out of the city and get in touch with yourself.

 slow-moving meditations on nature medicine, yoga, stillness, creative explorations, breath, locally sourced veggie food and the art of becoming.

We caught up with Emily Thring this week to find out more about the retreat and why she started The Quiet Company.

SDTC: Tell us about the origin of The Quiet Company. Why did you start it?

ET: My background is in digital marketing and communications. I spent eight years working agency and client side with brands like WE, MasterCard, Kijiji and the Canadian Cancer Society. I was overwhelmed and over programmed, always reaching for something more.

About five years ago, I was going through a transition in my career and personal life and was feeling really disconnected from myself. Meditation and mindfulness were just entering the wellness conversation and I wanted to give it a try. I couldn’t find a space in the city that fit my schedule or aligned with my lifestyle. At the time, starting a practice connected to religion, spirituality or mental health didn’t resonate with me.

I tried meditating with apps and found it frustrating. I felt like I was doing it wrong and was really easily distracted. Once I tried group meditation, I really found what I was missing.

Since leaving the corporate world, I have been working in wellness teaching Pilates, which I love, but I still felt like something was missing in my career. The conversation about meditation had shifted and I was seeing more people searching for it. I felt that people needed a place to connect, have some quiet and focus away from their phones and screens. I created The Quiet Company to fill the void I saw five years ago. Meditation and creating a practice is hard, and we’re trying to make it accessible and supportive.

What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned since you first launched? 

That everyone has the same worries and questions about meditation. Questions like, am I doing it wrong, why can’t I stop my brain from thinking, and when will I get good at this. I struggled with them too. I remind our students (and myself) that the thing about meditation is there is no final event or pose you’re working towards. It’s a continual journey and every day will be different depending on what’s going on in your life. If you commit to a meditation practice, it will be hard, but it will change your life.

How has your perspective changed? Do you look at society differently now than you did five years ago?

I have a lot more empathy and am way more patient. I am also less focused on achievements and feel way less FOMO. I take time with things instead of rushing, and I am really cognizant of how much time I spend on my phone.

You are hosting a retreat in Muskoka in late October. What can guests expect?

Unplug To Plug In is two days away in nature to connect back into yourself and stimulate creativity. We’re using meditation, movement and sound baths to really ground us before exploring a creative practice, whatever that looks like for you. There will be a lot of group hangs, nature walks, delicious meals, discussion, and cozy time in the beautiful yurts and cabins at Woodfield. Sharing is always optional and no experience is ever necessary at our events.

Nature…what does it do for you? What do you hope it does for others?

When I get out of the city, my stress just seems to melt away. I am able to really relax, be present and think clearly. I think nature is medicine and we need it, whether we think we do or not.

When did you first understand the power of nature?

I am lucky enough to have spent time in nature my whole life. I go up north to a family cottage every summer. My dad goes out for a morning canoe ride, and we all go for walks and sit on the dock all day. While I really am a city girl, the cottage is my happiest place.

Last year my boyfriend rented a house on the island and when I spent time there, I had the same feeling of stress melting when up north. On that fifteen-minute ferry ride from the heart of downtown to nature, you really feel the energy shift. Bird noises, animals, silence and darkness. You don’t realize how much you need them until they’re gone!

What is your ultimate goal for the Quiet In The Country?

For everyone to feel recharged. I would love for people to feel supported in the journey of connecting with themselves, and maybe feel inspired to start their own meditation practice to bring the stillness they found back to their daily life. I would also love for them to get a good laugh in and make a new friend or two along the way!

When it comes to adding a bit of stillness or calm to the day, what’s your best advice for busy adults?

They say that if you can’t find time to meditate for ten minutes, you should meditate for an hour. I think busy people should do their best to fit it in where they can – whether it’s closing your eyes and taking ten breaths on the streetcar before you walk into work, or detouring through a park on your walk home and noticing the squirrels running around. Being off phones is my biggest one. Be present where you are and you will feel recharged no matter what!

What do you love most about the retreats?

The leap of faith people take to come to them. It can be scary, but everyone shows up and often tries something that is new for them. Retreats give you an opportunity to get out of your comfort zone and test your boundaries with no expectations. I think it’s a win-win!

This retreat is open to all beings at all levels of practice. Sign up here. Can’t make the retreat? Check out more of The Quiet Company’s offerings here.