Five Reasons Why a Retreat is a Valuable Experience
The first retreat I did was a weekend yoga retreat in Ojai, a charming little town in California. My original idea behind going on this retreat was to challenge myself to try something new and a bit scary before my 40th birthday. It ended up being so much more than I expected! I came back with a new and improved image of myself, and a whole tribe of new friends who inspired me to think differently about life. With that, I was hooked, and I have tried to do a retreat every year since then.
Going on a retreat takes you out of your routine and changes your perspective. Ideally it will also present a bit of challenge to you. That might be trying something new, doing something all by yourself, or going somewhere you’ve never been before. It might be as simple as challenging your usual ways of thinking. If you want to go on a retreat but need a bit more encouragement, here are some thoughts.
1. Make Yourself a Priority
As women, we are quick to make sure that our children, our families, and even our co-workers have opportunities to pursue their interests. We think of ourselves last, if at all. A retreat is a great way to make yourself a priority. It requires you to spend time, money, and energy on something that benefits YOU first and foremost. If it makes you tense just to read that, that’s a sign that you really need to do it. Filling your own tank is essential if you want to continue to be there for other people.
2. Get Out of Your Comfort Zone
We’re all such creatures of habit! We spend most of our time doing the same things every day, every week, and every year. It takes effort to try something new, or do something different. They say that the magic happens outside your comfort zone, so in order to feel the magic, you’re going to have to feel uncomfortable. A retreat is a great opportunity to try something new. It’s also a great example to set for the people around you, including your children. When they see that mom can do things that make her a bit nervous, it gives them courage to the same.
3. Pamper Yourself
One of the best parts of going on an organized retreat is not having to think about the details. You don’t need to worry about planning your day, or figuring out what to have for lunch. Someone else does all the work so you can completely focus on yourself. Many women are the ones who are always making the plans (and making the meals). On a retreat, you get the luxury of being pampered, even if that just means you don’t have to make lunch. I always enjoy the feeling of being on a true vacation when I go on a retreat, because no one is relying on me to take care of them.
4. Meet New People
When you’re younger, it seems like the opportunities to meet new people are endless. School, sports, hobbies – there’s a never-ending list of places to make new friends. As we get older, our social circles get smaller. We see the same people at work, at neighbourhood events, and at the gym. On a retreat, you meet new people who share at least one interest with you, and you have a chance to really talk and get to know them. This expands your network, which is a great way to start down the road of making change happen in your life. You may meet people who have done things you’ve dreamed of doing, and hearing their stories can be the nudge you need to make change in your own life. I often find that new people see me in ways that I don’t see myself, which shows me qualities I didn’t even know I had until then.
5. Be Inspired
We all have the ability to be creative, but sometimes we need an extra spark to get the ideas flowing. A retreat can provide the time to think and focus on new ideas. Being in a different place with different people can inspire you to think in new and creative ways. The problems of your daily life fall away, and you can do some blue sky thinking and come up with creative thoughts that might not come when you’re bogged down in the details of regular life.
My most memorable retreat was a dream trip - a week-long yoga retreat to Bali. During that trip I began to think about ways that I could use my skills and experiences to support a life that involved more yoga and flip flops, and less high heels and board meetings. I had time to think and dream, I tried some new things, and I met people who had made huge life changes to live their dreams. I came home inspired to make a change. You never know what might happen when you try something new.