People today are busier than ever. As the demands of daily life consume our time and energy, taking time for ourselves can be challenging. Many people dream about getting away from it all, travelling to a beautiful place where no one knows their name, spending their days doing things they enjoy, stress free. While this may sound like an impossible fantasy, more and more people are abandoning typical vacation plans, instead choosing to go on retreat to find renewal in their lives. Here are ten common reasons why:

  1. Perspective. By stepping away from the usual activities and interactions of everyday life, it is easier to see ourselves and the world in new ways.
  1. Freedom to Be. Whether alone or with a beloved friend or partner, people often go on retreat in order to suspend day-to-day responsibilities and a habitual sense of identity. With a new sense of freedom, it is possible to explore deep questions, such as Who am I? and How do I want to show up in the world?
  1. Relaxation. In spite of our efforts to relax, the effects of stress can accumulate quickly, which can have a negative impact on our health and wellbeing. Retreats offer a balance of structure and down time, and usually include opportunities to nurture oneself, including bodywork and healing arts.
  1. Exploration. Unlike tourist travel, retreats allow us to explore ourselves and the world at a slower pace, with presence and mindfulness. This allows us to experience the energy and beauty of a place in a unique and meaningful way.
  1. Positive Change. Even with the best intentions, when we’re busy it can be difficult to make lasting positive changes in our lives. While on retreat, it’s possible to set intentions and create new habits without distractions, while also receiving encouragement from leaders and peers.
  1. Transformation. Throughout our lives, inner and outer challenges inevitably arise, and can be tremendous opportunities for growth. While on retreat, there is space to explore personal issues free from interruptions. With courage, awareness, and compassion, as well as the support of qualified facilitators, profound transformation can occur.
  1. Spiritual Growth. In the midst of work and life demands, it’s difficult to dedicate time to contemplating life’s purpose and mysteries, and many people long to step away from daily life to find a greater sense of clarity and vision. Retreats provide the space for us to connect with core spiritual principles, allowing us to direct our lives in a more conscious way.
  1. Practice. Many retreats provide a container for cultivating personal practices that anchor us in the midst of life’s challenges. Going on retreat can be a wonderful way to establish a new practice, with ongoing guidance from experienced facilitators. It can also re-energize a longstanding practice, while connecting us with like-minded community.
  1. Pleasure. Too often, work takes precedence over pleasure, and we don’t make enough time to do the things we love. Retreats can provide the opportunity for people to make their passions a priority for a short time, bringing tremendous enjoyment. This can also inspire people to make more time in their lives to do what they love.
  1. Learning. Retreats can bring exciting new experiences and ideas that can be truly life changing, and can spark a sense of curiosity that enriches people’s lives. Sometimes, the less we know the better, and it is possible to find greater delight and inspiration when we have few expectations and an open mind.    

Ultimately, retreats provide the time for us to engage in self-care and exploration while letting go of life’s constant demands, and leave us feeling refreshed, renewed, and connected to a greater sense of purpose and fulfillment in our lives.

Originally published in Natural Awakenings DC, April 2017 edition.  


10 Reasons to Retreat