Why you should Retreat to Connect
When I worked for Mind, the mental health charity in England, a great deal was evidenced that connecting with others helps mental health issues. Without connection feelings of isolation arise and the doubts of self-worth, confidence and purposeful living come into question. There are many opportunities in city-life to connect, but often we find the busy-ness and convenience disconnects us further. I found that retreats provide a wonderful opportunity to connect, with yourself, nature and others.
Limited Urban Living
In the midst of balancing the day-to-day needs of urban life, time and space are limited. The demands of ‘places to be’, ‘stuff to do’ and ‘at this time’ are a stress. The scheduling of business meetings, transport or social calendars are ‘limited’. All the wonderful conveniences on the doorstep, especially of Amazon Prime, mean that there is no need to connect. We do not connect with those sources and supplying our needs. We are already running to the next appointment before we have arrived at the current one. We are never present in time or space. It feels limited, like we are falling out of our bodies.
We anticipate and expect everything NOW. Instant gratification means there is no process or journey to the reward. We live in a ‘drive through’ mentality where we do not stop and truly contemplate the components parts of what make up the magic of life - our own experiences and discoveries.
Disconnected from Self, the ego plays tricks. It says that to go ‘inside’ is scary and that there are demons. It is better to double tap on Instagram than to double tap into your heart. To discover one’s own time, true good feelings, and unlimited possibilities sounds fanciful and unrealistic. This disconnection creates the belief of not being worth the time or discovery. Instead, we drudge onwards limited and unable to uncover solutions.
This was how I felt. I took ‘activity holidays’ like surfing or fitness because I wanted to give my body a push. To keep that daily rhythm of effort even when ‘resting'. These holidays kept me busy and prevented facing me, that I was alone, nothing special, living a pointless life - so I thought.
It is easy to not commit to yourself. To be too ….. (fill in the blank e.g. busy, broke, etc) or that the trip is too far/ costly/ awkward time of year etc. The only person this harms is you, and your ability to connect with those you love.
When you cannot connect to who you are, you cannot connect to others. Isolation breeds sickness.
Natural Healing is in Nature
Urban living does not mean that you cannot connect to yourself. However, it is in nature that much healing takes place as evidenced in plenty of research. It is important to be located amongst nature that is active and alive. Where ever you live, try to get into nature daily. If you cannot access nature then it is time to submerse yourself in nature - take a long break. It is useful to book two full weeks of nature a year to drop into true healing away from the instantaneous wonders of urbanised life.
We each have a personal preference for what nature inspires us. Further, healing in nature is affected by emotional and energetic needs. Ayurveda and Traditional Chinese Medicine can point towards suggestions of imbalances and suitable environments for healing. Some ideas for example are:
Anxiety states should spend time in mountains or in earthy environments to ground and ease.
Anger issues should spend time near water to calm the heat.
Lethargy problems benefit from windy climates to energise them.
Depression should be surrounded by things in bloom to see abundance and the vitality of life.
Overstimulation issues may be eased by the desert.
Most importantly, being in nature connects us back to the natural order of life as a creature of this planet. Perhaps to discover:
Returning to the living body as an organism that changes and experiences living.
The mysteries and wonders of the natural world.
The elements and their powerful force upon and through all living on the Earth.
Appreciation for something larger than human life.
Being in sunlight gives you vitamin D (in the UK studies show that everyone is vitamin D deficient due to the un-sunny winters).
Balances sleep patterns to natural cycles.
For me, it connected me to the wonder of life through the abundance and resilience of all living creatures. This is magical.
Connect into Your Heart
Well designed retreats are wonderful holding spaces for self enquiry with compassionate support of others. There should be sufficient alone time to relax, wander, watch and ponder. Away from the stimulation of suburbia, it is great to have limited WiFi access or just lock the phone in the room safe for the week! Unplug the mind and body from the stimulation of the screen and energies of the inter-web, to connect with the vibrant colours of nature and watch the web of life weave around you (hopefully not in the actual form of a spider)!
Self-enquiry is a journey that we can each only take alone. Ironically, it requires disconnect from the outside world and ego to begin the individual path. It is important to be in a safe environment and a well managed retreat knows how to do this for all attending.
A retreat is a wonderful time to begin or further self-inquiry with easy practices to continue when home. Lessons provide this container for tricks and tools of self-enquiry. Through movement, meditation, energy work and discussion in workshops it is important to try and play with techniques.
The peace of a retreat should provide a sense of ‘reset’ to the whole and well self. This provides an experience to relate back to when in daily life again, a ‘marker’. This marker is tool to monitor progress and development. Life is an unravelling of the same lessons from varying angles and stories, like a spiral. Vital to a great retreat are subtle lessons of:
acceptance of the journey,
Giving myself the space to do nothing was challenging. I discovered that I enjoyed doing nothing. I began to meet my crazy mind, but it was also kind, quirky and made me laugh.
I began to realise that I deserved this pace, patience and peace in my life.
Connect with Others
There is something unique about the groups and connections formed on a retreat. Deep and meaningful connections are formed without a need to know each other’s jobs, yoga experience or materialistic items. Everyone is on a level-playing field at the retreat.
Equality reminds everyone that we are all humans trying to live the best life possible for ourselves. Perhaps there are some shared values, social interests and ethical considerations, but not necessarily. Debates and discussions are permitted, but without judgment.
Each recognises the individual’s life path, their wisdom and suffering as their own. This permits everyone to connect to others are core human levels of:
On retreats, I noticed that my connections were more compassionate. My old city ‘problem solving’ approach to people began to quiet as I had connected to a more peaceful me. I could give the other person more space in our communication. I could connect to their suffering or joy. Connected to me, I can authentically connect with others and give them more.
It is through connections with others that the trigger for inspired moments arise.
Join a retreat
I truly believe that you can only share what you know. My role on a retreat is to hold space for everyone there and allow their journey to unfold. I offer suggestions, tips, prods and techniques to take home as a ‘teacher’, but I am nobody’s teacher. The teacher lies within each individual and their journey. .
No-one hears the teacher until they are ready for the lesson.
I believe that a retreat should give each person all the following plus much much:
Wonderful nature to provide the foundation healing of animals, plants and natural order into your body, mind and energy.
Classes and workshops on tools, techniques, practices and modalities that can support each person’s own path.
Delicious and nutritious meals to support cleansing, nourishing and educating the whole of physical experience of life.
Intuitive suggestions from compassion for physical, mental and emotional body to be disregarded or not.
Methods to find acceptance of the present circumstances with gratitude and lightness.
Commitment to embrace it all and forgive whatever it is time to release.
Reestablish a routine of self-love and care to take home and implement into daily life.
Side benefits are important too, do not underestimate the desire for:
Get toned and fit,
Improve neuromuscular co-ordination for injury prevention,
Reiki healing to unblock energetic and emotional imbalance, and
Yoga nidras and meditation to balance the mind.
Connection is what healed my depression. I connected to life and the desire to live it. Now I love to connect. It is why I run retreats.
Join me to reconnect to what you desire most.
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