We all experience the need to retreat from time to time. Longing to take a step back and re-energize for the journey ahead. But too often we get caught up in our daily responsibilities and push off our downtime to the detriment of our own wellbeing.
How many times have you found yourself needing to step away but just don’t have the time or the money to plan a vacation? Or maybe you feel a little guilty for taking time away from your family or job to spend on yourself. For many, investing time and money into self-care may even feel a little selfish.
But nothing could be farther from the truth. When we take time away to take care of ourselves and refocus, we come back better equipped to handle our daily activities. We are a better partner, parent, friend, teacher or businessperson, because we took time away to rejuvenate and renew our perspective.
Why do we retreat?
A vacation can be a retreat of sorts, but for our purposes here we are talking about organized retreats that have a specific agenda. Like a vacation these are fun and playful but more focused and designed to meet specific needs and goals of each participant. There are generally three important reasons to retreat in this way.
We talk a lot in yoga about creating space for new growth. It can be very hard to do in our hectic daily lives because so many things are constantly vying for our time and attention. When you retreat, you purposefully set everything aside creating time and space for self-care and reflection. In this space you can find growth, insight, and energy to take back into your daily life.
Whether you are immersed in nature, experiencing a new culture, or exploring your creative side, a well-designed retreat will take you on a journey of self-discovery. You’ll will learn more about yourself, or perhaps rediscover a playfulness long forgotten, as you get to know the other amazing people in your small group. Taking time to care for your physical body with yoga, movement, healthy food, massage and relaxation will also help to quiet your mind for contemplation. Mindful activities like journaling, meditation, or just gazing quietly at the powerful beauty of a place, work together to bring a sense of clarity. Whether it’s a large epiphany or a gentle reassurance, you can’t help but learn more about yourself on retreat.
A Fresh Perspective
Often, we get so caught up in our daily activities that we lose sight of the path we are on. We find ourselves moving in circles and treading the same path over and over until we feel stuck. As the adage goes you can’t see the forest for the trees. When this happens in the wilderness the first thing we do is find a high point where we can survey our surroundings to determine our best path forward. Going on retreat is like finding the high point from which you can survey your life and gain a fresh perspective. You step back to look at the path you have been on and contemplate the direction you want to go. Sometimes this confirms your path, other times it shows where you need to change your course to realign your journey.
On a well-designed retreat you will have an opportunity for this kind of reflection and discovery. Whether you return with small or large adjustments to your path, it’s almost guaranteed you will find some clarity and course correction to make your daily life even more fulfilling.
Choosing Your Retreat
There are a few considerations in choosing the right retreat for you. After all any retreat is an investment of time and money in YOU. So, taking time to find the right fit is important.
Consider Your Interests
If you are considering a retreat, then you are likely interested in travel. But consider the kind of travel that interests you most. Do you like adventure travel, prefer to be pampered in 5-star hotels or some combination of both.
Perhaps you want to try a new experience but prefer to do that with a group you trust like trekking in Patagonia or coming face to face with the Mountain Gorillas of Uganda. Maybe you are excited to experience a new culture or to understand ancient sacred sites. Activities such as surfing, kayaking, bicycling or trekking may be exactly what you are looking for. If you want to explore something more creative perhaps a writing or painting retreat would be a perfect fit. Whatever your interest there are many fun and exciting retreats options for you.
Your Needs and Goals
What are your overall goals for the retreat. Sometimes this may seem obvious, like ‘I want to get away and relax’ or ‘I really want to experience Machu Picchu’. But beyond that, you should consider what you really need to get out of the experience.
Are you seeking clarity, alignment, or insight for your life? Do you need to find a way to be fully present for a while without distraction? Are you looking to truly let go and find joy and laughter again? When you start with your goal in mind, finding the perfect retreat for you is much easier.
Assessing your needs and goals will also help to ensure you get everything your are looking for out of your experience. We start every retreat by taking time to think about what you are looking to take away from the experience, you will write it down, put it away and come back to it in the end. This is a powerful tool to set an intention and make the most of your time away.
Your Time and Your Money
There are a couple of different kinds of retreats. The first involves less up-front cost but has little planned. These are usually done by hotels where they pay an instructor a commission to bring people into their hotel for a “retreat”. You typically get breakfast, one spa service for the week, and a daily yoga class from the instructor that brought you. These are popular for people who want to mostly spend time at the beach. But you end up investing more time and money on the trip to find activities or pay for excursions and of course your other meals.
The all-inclusive retreats will usually include a fully curated set of activities, all or most of your meals, transportation, guides or leaders and a more interactive experience. Essentially you don’t have to worry about anything and your costs above the price of the trip are relatively low.
At RDY we mostly do all inclusive retreats because our goal is to curate an experience that meets the goals of the retreat. This means finding the perfect meal options, activities that contribute to the purpose of the retreat, time to reflect and time gather and grow. We work a lot with community-based tourism which is one reason we go in small groups and have experiences that you would not be able to do on your own or on a larger group trip. The flow of the retreat is important and has an arc to it much like the flow of a yoga or meditation class with each element designed to take you on the journey and leave you feeling connected to yourself, others on the retreat, your guides, and the place and people you visit.
So, when you consider the time and money element, consider how much time you want to invest in planning on a retreat versus just going with the flow and trusting the journey. On our retreats, you can relax and enjoy your time, we take care of everything else.
Taking time out for self-care is as important to your wellness journey as your healthy diet, and daily movement practices. Yet we often consider retreating an indulgence and deprioritize it. Going on retreat is one of the most amazing experiences you will ever have and something you should put into your plan each year.
When people discover retreats, for many it becomes their preferred way to travel. You will make lifelong friends, and experience places in a way that most never will. So take some time and put your needs first.
You’ll be all the better for it!