Since time out of mind, those seeking inner peace, tranquility, self-knowledge, and a variety of other things have ‘retreated’ to places of calm and quiet. In antiquity, such people would inevitably head to the wilderness, there to wrestle with their personal demons, and return with a good deal of new found wisdom and strength. Nowadays, dedicated retreat houses and halls exist to provide the function once fulfilled by the deserts and wildernesses. Run by experienced professionals, these places really can do an awful lot of good for those in need.
Here are just a few ways in which going on a retreat could benefit you or someone you know:
While some retreats simply provide a venue in which you can work out your thoughts, feelings, and meditations in your own way, most also lay on some catering for you. If you wish to cleanse your body as well as your soul, a holistic retreat center could be just the place for you. All meals you’ll have will be ethically sourced, and work for your body rather than against it. You’ll find the harmful chemicals of our modern diet swiftly eliminated from your system, and will be able to enjoy the benefits of a body doing what it should be doing, in the way it should be doing it, using the fuels which it was designed to consume. In contrast to the Spartan surrounds experienced by the retreaters of antiquity, many modern retreat centers are rather luxurious – and this is particularly true of those which specialize in physical health and detoxification. While cleansing your body from the inside through specialized detoxification diets, you can also improve it from the outside through things like yoga, spa treatments, and various other holistic and luxury services.
In today’s world, it is almost impossible to remove oneself from the pressures of life. Our working hours have got longer, our personal space is being squeezed from all sides, and the advent of cell phones means that we can’t haul ourselves from the torrential stream of society even when we’re having ‘me time’. We do so much multimedia multitasking that our brains are crying out for ‘mental downtime’ and, as a consequence, our stress levels and the number of anxiety disorders diagnosed each year are hitting and breaking new records all the time. It’s a very sad situation – but there is a cure. Going on retreat, if done properly should, as the name suggests, involve truly ‘retreating’ from your everyday life. This involves unplugging yourself from your devices and giving your brain some space to relax, unwind, process the stress of your life and begin to heal itself. The human brain wasn’t designed to be ‘on’ 24/7. It needs time and space to cool off, form memories, smooth out ripples in the psyche, and do all those other essential things that it’s supposed to do. Giving your mind and soul some downtime during a retreat can be profoundly healing.
One result of the peace and healing you’ll experience through the ‘mental downtime’ mentioned above is highly likely to be a reconnection with the truly important things in your life. This can induce a process of re-evaluation which may well change your life for the better in a deep and personal way. Removal from the routines and formulas of your everyday life gives you the space, time, and distance needed to see them for what they truly are. It may be that you come to the conclusion that your life is just fine – in which case you can return home imbued with a new confidence and positivity about the way things are going. However, it may be that your retreat reveals to you areas of your life which are making you unhappy. Many people while on retreat find or develop reserves of strength within themselves which enable them to make vital changes to their lives. There is a very good reason why most addiction centers involve a certain amount of retreat – addiction psychologists know that a certain amount of distance is needed in order to bring about the evaluatory clarity which is needed for addicts to make a positive change in their lives while simultaneously gaining the strength to follow through with those changes (which are often extremely difficult). The same can happen for you – you’ll learn to identify and eliminate all the toxic forces from your life, enabling you to move forward with positivity and self-compassion.
Ready to go on a retreat?