5 Reasons to go on a Spiritual Retreat
“In order to understand the world, one has to turn away from it on occasion.”
Throughout my years as a yogi, truth-seeker, and self-realizer, I have often been interested in and enamored with the idea of retreat.
I remember way back in the 1990s dreaming of going on retreat, specifically a yoga retreat, as yoga had long been intriguing, and by this time had become a beautiful addition to my daily routine.
The idea of a yoga retreat was a newer concept at that time, and seemed, for a busy mom of three young ones, to be a reasonable answer to the calling I had to take my practice deeper. I knew I was not going to, nor did I want to, go to India for a year of retreat, but perhaps I could swing a fall weekend in New Mexico or Massachusetts, and, if I was feeling really bold maybe Mexico.
Well, I did not embark on that Yoga weekend, for many many years, as life was busy and I am to this day a bit of a homebody. It’s funny to me that the realization that I like to stay home only came after all of the reasons I “HAD” to stay home grew up and moved out.
Fast forward about 20 years and I finally took myself on the pilgrimage I had long dreamed of. A very last-minute opportunity arose to retreat in Bali with a teacher I did not know well but had come to trust and enjoy.
The stars aligned and I found myself on a trip via Taiwan to a far-off land. I landed, only after a long car ride through cities and country roads where the views were like nothing I had seen before, amongst the rice fields and in a place like nothing I had ever experienced before.
The retreat was everything I had hoped for: quiet, exotic, self-revealing, and just the perfect amount of interdependence with like-minded (ish) souls from all over the world. I was in heaven, and, of course, at the same time the homebody in me, could not wait to get home to my Mountain and to my cherished life.
What is wonderful about retreats or what I like to call a pilgrimage is that you bring it back with you, not in the form of snapshots or bloat like a vacation, but with real introspection, tools, and experiences that continue to land in your heart, body, and life, long after the adventure has ended.
Fast forward (literally these lapses of time feel like a blink of an eye sometimes) another handful of years, with more retreats under my belt and I find myself the one facilitating the idea and reality of retreat for others.
Perhaps it was the many years of conjuring up, in my mind, what I needed from a retreat, or perhaps it was the happenstance way I was shown what I needed from a retreat by the universe on the fate-filled trip to Bali, whatever it is, I find cultivating the space, the community, the context and the content of retreat, exhilarating and powerful.
Whether it be a daily retreat into yourself through ritual and meditation, or a trip to a far-off land to immerse yourself completely I believe the idea of retreat is important and sacred.
Right before I decided to come out, I went on a spiritual retreat called ‘Changing the Inner Dialogue of Your Subconscious Mind.’ I’d never been to anything like it before, and all my friends were taking bets on how long I’d last with no TV, no radio, no phone. But for me, that was the beginning of paying attention to all the little things.
Five reasons to retreat:
- To explore what we don’t know yet, but can feel lurking in our soul.
For those new to a particular discipline, idea, or modality, a retreat can be a beautiful jumpstart to our day, our week, our year, or the rest of our life. It is a way to find our sea legs, immersing us into a way of living that perhaps we have been craving, yet unsure how to embark upon.
- To deepen what we have been experiencing, and desire more of.
For those who are well on their way, a retreat can offer a mammoth leap forward, deepening the digestion, and integration of our day-to-day life, and of our overall journey. Reminding us how to live aware, intentional, and inspired.
- To take space away from “normal” life, in an intentional and present way.
For those feeling overwhelmed, exhausted, or simply needing distance from a very stimulating life. A retreat can be a wonderful space to reset, refine and rediscover our priorities. It also allows us to experience or remember another way of being. Even if just for an hour, this can cultivate the space we are craving, allowing us to refresh, ready to engage in our life with clarity and confidence.
- To be witnessed by like-minded souls.
For those feeling disconnected, depleted, and polarized by others and the world. A retreat can bring a sense of self that feels alive and innately safe. Allowing deeper connection to not only ourselves but to all beings on the planet. As we navigate the current landscape of our era, this is maybe even more important than ever, as feeling and being connected cannot be underestimated in living a vibrant, healthy, and aware life.
- To be held in a sacred space by a trusted teacher.
It makes sense in these uncertain times that more people want to reconnect with feeling good and with what really matters to them. A retreat can bring us in alignment with that place within that knows we are perfect and whole. Having someone (as a teacher or guide) hold the vision of our truth while we explore and discover it for ourselves is one of the most beautiful aspects of a retreat.
“Within you, there is a stillness and sanctuary to which you can retreat at any time and be yourself”
~ Herman Hesse
I have always felt picked up and placed on the other side of something when I have retreated. Whether I retreat to another part of the world or in my living room, I am left on a high that is hard to describe. It is a connection in all senses of the word, and maybe it simply is one of those things that has to be experienced.