You can go away on your own
You may already be an adventurer, or someone who is completely comfortable doing things without company, but many of us struggle with that and find the idea of going it alone a bit scary.
A retreat is ideal for building confidence, independence and lets you grow your ‘brave’ muscle. You won’t be totally alone, in fact you’ll be with others who share your interests and who may also be braving it on their own for the first time. You might even meet people who remain friends for a lifetime.
“Self-care isn’t selfish, it’s an act of survival” (Audre Lorde).
We find it easy and natural to be kind, caring and supportive of the people we love, why is it so hard to do the same for ourselves? We’re conditioned to believe that doing something for ourselves, our health and happiness is selfish. This is particularly true of women, who are socialised to serve, nurture, and put the needs of others before our own.
A retreat is the perfect way to bring a little self-caring and self-compassion back into your life; and to remind you of how important it is. Would you view all the other retreat guests as selfish because they were there? I doubt it, so why would you allow that thought about yourself? Retreats give us the permission that we think we need to do what’s right for us.
You can do a digital detox
Although you can of course take your phone with you to a retreat, many will have a policy of not using technology and some might ban it outright. You might miss Facebook or Instagram for a short while but in my experience, once immersed in your retreat you’ll forget all about the outside world. You won’t give a thought to whatever is going on in the world of social media. I bet you don’t even miss it.
You can learn something new
Always wanted to do yoga but never got round to it? What better way to become involved or start learning a new skill than a weekend/week/fortnight away doing just that! You’ll always learn something new on a retreat – from your hosts, instructors, fellow guests; you might even surprise yourself and learn something about YOU! Going on a retreat can help to give you a new perspective on life; experiencing the unknown is a sure-fire way to accelerate your growth and self-development.
You can deepen what you already know
It can be a challenge managing to practising yoga on a regular basis – often when we’re busy it’s the things we do for ourselves that get pushed aside. But if you go on a yoga retreat you’ll probably have the opportunity to practice two or more times per day, letting you get more from your practice and taking your own practice to a much deeper level.
Maybe your retreat is more of a spiritual one? The time devoted to meditation/mindfulness/self-reflection allows you to get to a level that is normally out of reach, due to the busy-ness and stress of everyday life.
You don’t have to cook and your meals will be nutritious!
If you’re going on a health retreat that’s all inclusive (the kind that most of us are looking for) you won’t need to plan, shop, cook or clear up after your meals. Healthy, nutritious food will be provided for you, you just need to show up at meal times and eat healthy stuff. Bliss.
You’ll relax and de-stress
It’s one of the main reasons many people go on retreat. To relax and have a break from the stress of work and family life; the never-ending To Do list and the armies of people all relying on you for their wellbeing. Being away from home and encouraged by your hosts, facilitators, therapists, instructors and other guests, you can feel free to really listen to your body and do what it needs to really and truly relax. Don’t feel like getting up at 6am to do the early yoga practice? Stay in bed. Don’t want to do every group session? Take yourself off for a walk, or read a book in the bath.
On a retreat, you’ll find the space, environment and support you need to fully relax and to trigger your parasympathetic nervous system – the opposite of the fight or flight stress response. You’ll come away feeling energised yet relaxed; invigorated and motivated and able to cope with whatever life throws at you.
You’ll broaden your horizons
Visiting somewhere new; learning a new skill; trying a different way of cooking and eating; meeting new friends; learning to care for yourself; getting to know yourself in a deeper way. These are just a few of the ways a retreat can expand your world. Your new friend/partner/career/way of thinking/way of living/place to live can all stem from someone you met, or something you did/heard on retreat. It’s exciting!
You can share your knowledge and enhance the life of those around you
What happens on retreat, stays on retreat….er, no. Whilst you obviously don’t have to come home and report to anybody what you’ve done during your retreat, what you learnt along with the good vibes and calmness will come back with you and can make other people feel good too. Perhaps you learnt about healthy cooking and eating and you’ll share your recipes and cook those meals for your loved ones at home. For lots of people, just learning to meditate or be more mindful can have a ripple effect and can genuinely improve the lives of those you share yours with. Feel the love, and then share it.
Feel renewed enthusiasm for everyday life
Sometimes life gets you down. Your children are always demanding your time and attention, your work-life has become a little jaded, and your personal relationships are neglected. YOU REALLY DESERVE A BREAK. Taking a few days out can be just what you need to reflect, re-evaluate and remember what’s important in your life. You’ll come back with renewed passion for life, with ideas and strategies of how to improve the way you live and you’ll have the energy to actually do something about it!