What does the word 'retreat' mean to you? I've learnt it can mean many things to many people. This Blog post explores what a retreat really is and how taking yourself on a retreat can be beneficial for your busy mind, your soul and the people around you.
"If you want your retreat to be successful, you should have the right attitude towards it. You should not feel that it is some kind of prison sentence during which you are locked up...Instead you should feel joyful and fortunate that you have the chance to do something highly beneficial for yourself and others."
I saw this quote recently by Lama Thubten Yeshe 'The tantric path of purification.'. It struck a deep chord with me as the term 'retreat' is starting to mean different things to different people. Part of my mission in this life is to encourage and support people to bring more sacred self care into their busy lives. And taking time to 'retreat' is a huge part of it. As a culture, we are obsessed with being busy. We wear it as a badge of honour, yet behind closed doors, we feel exhausted, restless and struggle to find happiness and peace in the basic beauty of our lives. I am watching the problems this is causing - particularly around mental health and the huge load of unnecessary pressure we are putting ourselves under. Just taking time out to be with yourself - and I mean really present with yourself - is so much more powerful than people think.
Contrary to the context of the quote above, a retreat isn't locking people up either! 🤣. I know first hand you are never kept prisoner in a retreat centre, BUT some people arrive and realise that sitting with yourself with little distractions is a lot harder than perceived and feel like a prisoner inside themselves. But to me, this is a good sign. A sign that simply bringing themselves onto a retreat in the first place is VERY powerful and they usually have the deepest breakthroughs by the time it's time to go home.
"The purpose of a retreat is to temporarily leave behind the usual distractions and pressures we all face, for a time long enough to allow relaxation and for an inner change to occur. It gives us the ability to be able to hear the the ongoing conversion of our heart and soul that is critical to deepening our inner peace and faith."
Taking yourself on a retreat is one of the most powerful ways to transform and quiet our minds. A way to unify our mind, body and soul on a deep level which is almost impossible in today's hectic lifestyle. But, you cannot change your mindset as quickly as you change your clothes - you have to gently learn to sit with yourself over time. Learning the art of self love does help with this transformation. I always advise people new to meditation to work on self love at the same time. Why? Well as soon as you start to sit with yourself, if you don't love yourself deeply, the first thing that can come up is the negative thoughts you have about yourself, over & over. Once you've mastered self love, you can work with these thoughts quicker until you no longer talk to yourself in that way. A massive breakthrough in meditation will occur and you will transcend the connection you have to yourself and the Universe.
Here are some tips to support you during a retreat:
1. Keep environmental distractions to a minimum. That's your phone, WiFi, alcohol, even reading books. If removing distractions completely is too much, that's ok as a retreat shouldn't be punishing. Just be mindful not to take the easy route to distract the mind instead of sitting with yourself.
2. Stay healthy. Again, a retreat shouldn't be punishing such as uncomfortable sleeping conditions, food deprivation, an unhealthy environment and so on. If you do not eat properly, there is a danger that your nervous system and your energy will become disturbed. This can cause 'spacing out', strong emotional breakdowns and physical pains (especially around the heart chakra).
3. Be kind to yourself. The fact you're even taking yourself on a retreat to connect with yourself on a deep level, and in turn improving the lives of those around you, is a MASSIVE deal. Remind yourself every chance you get and pat yourself on the back for being brave enough to give yourself a retreat. You are more amazing than you know.
In my teachings (whether that's Yoga, meditation, spiritual mentoring or anything else), I support people to find this peace within themselves. This June (30th), Sharron Hoppley from The Happylicious Way and I will be working with some very special souls in the Spanish Mountains, supporting them to go within and connect deeply with themselves during a week long retreat. We have hired the wonderful, purpose built retreat centre The Molino Del Rey, with it's natural meditation caves, Moorish stream that runs through the centre and a natural salt water pool - lush!
From L.Yeshe, "If you get chance to retreat, you are extremely fortunate. Few things are as beneficial...therefore, start your retreat with great determination but no expectations...it's enough that you are trying to control your mind and relax in this peaceful, tranquil, atmosphere." 💖
Would you like to join us and other special souls on our yoga & meditation retreat in Spain?
For more information about the retreat week and how to book, click here...