Let’s face it, we live in a crazy world with crazy demands on us. Always on, always on the go, always more money to make, more bills to pay. Family, friends, obligations. It’s no surprise sometimes we need a break from the grind to find some peace of mind.
So let’s not underestimate the power of a retreat — it can reset your life. Even just a day or weekend retreat can ground you in values and practices that empower and uplift you. A retreat can break the chain of old habits and free you to live by your highest ideals.
Retreats are powerful because they bring us together and remind us of how we want to live. In the flow of life, we can lose track of our purpose, intentions and practices. Sometimes we get caught in whirlpools of self-defeating thoughts and feelings, and habits such as unhealthy eating, not-exercising, not-going outside, not-meditating, and so on. Those ruts are no fun because the damaging habits lead to further states of malaise that then can lead to a throwing-in-the-towel on inspired visions for life. “Whatever, if I’m feeling this crappy, what’s the point, at least I’ll get some comfort from Netflix.”
I find that when I arrive at a yoga, meditation, or other wellness retreat, I suddenly do not have the same yearnings to engage in destructive behaviors. When I’m with a group of like-minded people who care about showing up with love and cultivating goodness in the world, I feel satisfied on a level that resolves whatever yearning I had for other stuff. This is because retreats are 1) not stressful compared to the demands of everyday life, and 2) they put us into community with supportive and committed people.
I find at retreat that I can be who I am without concern for how everyone perceives me. There is a trust that others will accept me as who I am—a fallible human who is no stranger to struggling through things. This support is priceless. Without the kindness and support of others, I tend to question my worth and have difficulty feeling love for myself. Retreat communities hold me and remind me that I, like everyone else, do matter, and that I am not alone in my struggle.
Retreats also affirm an inspired vision of life. The collective intention of a good retreat is for everyone to experience greater wellness, knowledge, or other empowerment. Being a part of this group field of energy can lock you in that grid. You may remember how good it feels to engage in practices of betterment, and those practices can become your new equilibrium point. The day after a retreat you may wake up with determination and joy to go forth living by your higher ideals for health and happiness.
This intention, or “reprogramming” of yourself toward a better way of being, is also supported by the community of the retreat. At a retreat, we connect our individual intentions with the larger community. Suddenly it is not just me pursuing my individualized agenda, but I am uplifted by the energy of the group. Our intentions and commitments support each other, even after the retreat.
A good retreat can root you in the pleasure of living with love and taking care, inspire you to reboot your vision, connect you with a community of sustained support, and break the chain of old habits so you can pursue your path of liberation.
Daniel White is a writer, poet, and yogi who wanders the world sharing his gifts and co-creating deeply fulfilling connections and moments.