I love retreats! It's a little bit like going off to camp as a kid. For example, when you go away to camp you get to:
meet kids from other places
try out a different location
make new friends
take a break from your family and friends at home
often appreciate what you have at home more
learn new things about yourself
build up your confidence by facing different situations
acquire knowledge and skills, sometimes about things you never imagined
As an adult, instead of going to "camp", we can go on retreat where we get to:
meet people from other parts of the country or world
get a feel for a different environment
make new friends
get some time off from family commitments, job situations & general obligations
return home with a refreshed look at our lives
discover new things about our selves
increase our confidence through new, possibly challenging situations
develop abilities and expertise about things we either always wanted to explore or by encountering unexpected possibilities
rest, renew, replenish
Even the word itself is rich with potential interpretation. As Monday's Quote stated ...
"...usually when we retreat, it's in order to save our lives and those around us"
Of course, that's often thought of in a military sense where imminent defeat and a brutal ending might be avoided by withdrawing. However, imagine being in the middle of a difficult time in your life. Sometimes life just gets relentless. When it seems impossible to find a way to put our own oxygen mask on first, it might mean that going away and leaving a situation, even just for a few days, is the best way to come back with a new perspective and avoid a disaster.
Or, think of experiencing hard times, facing problems and with dilemmas coming at you seemingly from all directions. At some point, there seems to be no solution. Now, picture yourself being somewhere tranquil and soothing, away from those demanding circumstances. That quiet space leaves room for new ideas and resolutions.
Photo by Daiga Ellaby
I even love thinking about seeing the word as "re-treat" as in giving yourself another gift or indulgence. Can you fantasize about spending even two or three days only filled with pleasure and delight?
For me, retreats are not simply a luxury or an extravagance. They are essential and there isn't just one variety that appeals to me. Sometimes I am advancing my competence in an area with which I am already familiar and trained. Other times I might be learning something completely new and unfamiliar. This could be something exotic or unconventional or it might be more everyday. Being apart from the usual and spending focused and concentrated time with something speeds up the learning curve.
Or, I might just feel the need to get away, far from the madding or frenzied crowd. What's really interesting is that after only a day or two, relief starts to set in, so it doesn't always mean that I need to escape for a week or more. Often, two and a half or three days gives me the ability to return to deep breaths and inner calm.
My love for retreats makes me want to create and offer them to others and much of this year has been devoted to finding out more about making that happen. I'm exploring six-hour as well as six-day getaways. I'm looking at inviting guest speakers and trainers as well as starting every morning with my own meditations. I'm considering staying in the U.S. as well as going to other countries. I'd love to hear what you would like.
When you are reading this (I'm writing it a couple of days before), I will be on retreat in the mountains of northern Georgia. I know a little bit about the "curriculum" and I am open to whatever is offered. I know I will come away different than when I arrived. I believe that I will find some inner peace simply by being in beautifully natural surroundings, away from "the usual". I know that I need this and I am grateful to have the chance to indulge myself and this is what I wish for you.