The Importance of Retreat
Updated: Jan 9, 2021
I am an enthusiastic supporter of retreats. When we move back and withdraw from our everyday lives (definition 1) we gain perspective, clarity, and focus. Our spirits become rejuvenated after spending time in nature, in spiritual contemplation, alone or with individuals who are on similar, soulful paths to our own.
Whether the retreat is an hour from home or halfway around the world - whether it’s a meditation led by a monk or shaman, or it’s a creative workshop or motivational seminar - give yourself the deserved gift of retreating to a place of privacy and refuge (definition 2).
My favorite form of retreat involves deep, sacred meditations with seasoned guides (definition 3) but I’ve also participated in writing residencies, uncharted backpacking adventures, and long treks in the mountains. Each has been life-changing.
What follows are the most common forms of resistance I hear from clients when they know they must get away from the grind of their everyday lives, but they still hesitate. I am also including my thoughts on each reason/excuse:
I’m not sure I can afford it
You are investing in your life’s development. The insights you gain will be priceless. When you find a retreat that’s right for you, and you use the time away to re-align with your soul's purposes, and you will be able to return to everyday life as a more productive, more loving, more peaceful, better version of yourself. Isn’t that worth cutting out shopping splurges this year, or eating at home instead of at restaurants for a while? Or perhaps you need to to rent a room out in your home for extra income?
However you need to save, save. I once left the country for 8 months on less than 4K. That extraordinary trip changed the entire course of my entire life. It may sound like an extreme example, but I’m not the only one with a story like that. Where there’s a will, there’s a way. So stop giving yourself excuses about money!
My business/job may fall apart while I’m gone
If your business or job falls apart because you leave town for a few days or a few weeks, take a good look at what needs to change in your professional life so that you are able to step away from time to time, as needed, for personal & spiritual growth. Start closing the gap between where you are now and where you'd like to be.
I once encouraged a client to plan a trip around the world after his divorce; he had always wanted to travel, but his ex-wife never had. This client ran a very successful company that he had hadn’t stepped away from in over a decade. Once he took a deep breath and allowed himself to believe that he could book an adventurous trip without his life & business falling apart, he took the plunge. London, Dubai, an African Safari…a princess in Tanzania even fell in love with him!! (True story!) He returned completely new. And guess what? His business was still going strong...
I worry it might be selfish of me to leave my family/partner for a vacation on my own
There is nothing selfish about doing what you need to do to make yourself a better person. In fact, that’s what everyone should be doing. And remember: this is not a vacation. It’s a retreat. There’s a big difference between a soulful, internal exploration of self and laying around sipping fancy drinks at a Five Star resort. Not that such a trip can’t be rejuvenating, but I am advocating for soul-journeys here.
Try talking lovingly with your family/partner about how meaningful & important a retreat is for your development. And let them know you are also happy to support them in their own soul’s journey, or suggest you retreat somewhere together! I know a married couple, with a son, who take turns attending retreats - often two or three times a year. They also participate in retreat weekends together as a couple and as a family. I admire the balance they have created between 1) personal development, 2) development as a couple, and 3) development as a family. It’s all possible.