Retreat to Renew

Take a retreat to renew a sense of peace and centeredness.

We all need a break sometimes. It’s nice to take a step back and find a way to escape the daily grind. But what if that escape was actually an “inscape”? What if taking a break meant going on a retreat to find a sense of inner peace?

What Exactly Is a Retreat?

There are many ways to describe or define retreat, but in general the term refers to a period of rest, seclusion, and contemplation away from the pressures of ordinary life. In fact, a retreat is whatever you make it. There are many different types of retreats designed to serve many different needs. Some people participate in deeply religious retreats, whereas others may participate in something that more closely resembles a particularly lazy and carefree vacation. Some retreats are silent, some involve meditation, others involve yoga, and still others involve spiritual study with a teacher. Some retreats are organized and structured, whereas others are self-created.

All retreats have one thing in common: they facilitate an opportunity to turn inward and rediscover a connection to the Divine or to one’s higher self.

The Benefits of Going on Retreat

A retreat provides an opportunity to unplug—literally and figuratively. In our daily lives, we spend so much of our time “plugged in” to work, chores, responsibilities, social activities, e-mail, cell phones, Twitter, and Facebook that there is hardly a moment to stop, breathe, and reconnect to our deepest selves.

A retreat puts a stop to all of that noise. It provides a quiet environment in which you can slow down, relax, de-stress, breathe deeply, and get in touch with your inner self. A retreat is a way of hitting the “reset button” on your body and mind. Sometimes a retreat is an opportunity to grow in spiritual practice, whether through prayer, meditation, yoga, or study.

How to Take a Retreat

There is no right or wrong way to take a retreat. Many organizations and groups offer formal, structured retreats designed for a specific purpose, but you can just as easily put together your own personal retreat by escaping to the countryside with your journal and yoga mat.

How you retreat is not important; what matters is that you take time for yourself. Remember, you don’t have to go far to go deep. You simply have to have an intentional desire to disconnect from your daily routine and find a place of quiet and solitude within yourself to recharge your batteries. It takes discipline and self-awareness to take a retreat. It would be easy to convince yourself that you could bring your laptop and cell phone on retreat with you, but that would impede your ability to disconnect from the distractions that prevent you from connecting to yourself and Spirit.

What to Expect

Depending on the length, type, and structure of your retreat, you can generally expect to feel a little restless at the beginning as you attempt to disconnect from your daily life. You may even feel sad or moody as you dive in to your inner self; however, sadness typically gives way to a deep sense of peace and joy as the solitude opens the doorway to the authentic you that has been buried beneath layers of stress and responsibilities.

Your retreat might include journaling, meditation, yoga, labyrinth walking, counseling, coaching, spiritual or religious practices and rituals, sleep, silence, walking, and any number of activities. Whatever form your retreat takes, may it open the door to deep reflection and peace.