So you want to go on a retreat. But do you want to retreat? What is the first thought that takes your mind, catches your imagination when you look at those sunny pictures. The fun that you and your New BFF will have whilst attempting to balance as a Mighty Warrior on a Stand Up Paddleboard?
Think about it. What is the real reason. What lies beneath (and I don’t mean underneath the water!) Why have you have chosen this time out. Let’s face it, you could have gone on safari or skiing.
The word retreat means to withdraw, to go into ourselves. The dictionary tells us it is the act of absenting oneself temporarily from the dangers or difficulties of life. Is that what we see when the adverts invade our social media page. I don’t think so and it’s certainly not what the marketing gurus illustrate.
But at a deeper level, maybe our higher self knows what is going on. We want more. And that’s a good thing. We don’t want to go on retreat simply to learn a new skill and meet new people. That’s called further education.
We are looking for something at a deeper, more meaningful level; we are looking to discover something new, something different and that means ‘us’. We go on retreat to learn a little more about who we are, underneath the new yoga gear, underneath that paddleboard. And yes, perhaps underneath the water. How will we cope; in fear or joy or both. Will the bubbles in our belly explode in laughter or will they simmer away gently, never to be expressed.
The best way to learn about ourselves is to become part of a pack, a newfound tribe. The only way we can truly learn about ourselves is in relationship. And I don’t necessarily mean a lover. What is the point of sitting alone in a cave to then come down to the real world and be challenged by the frustrations of living in it! This is where the work begins. We want to belong and to feel connection. Days when we lived in a community are long gone in the western world so we take ourselves on a retreat.
A good, well balanced retreat will help us do this and also, if they’re really good, teach us how we can learn about ourselves – if this is a yoga retreat, it doesn’t mean you have to practice asana all day. We practice yoga to allow us to sit in meditation for longer periods, to become aware of what thoughts come to mind and how we can process them. A good yoga retreat will help us balance on and off the mat, by stretching the body, the mind and the imagination and in a safe and secure environment whilst having fun at the same time! So find yourself a terrific tribe because when defeat appears imminent, we retreat, we regroup and we REVIVE!