If your best friend called you to tell you that they were going to be spending the next week away on a retreat, this may conjure up images of a room full of hippy-esque folk with unkempt hair, sat cross-legged amongst glowing crystals and freshly lit sandalwood scented incense sticks in a meditative trance.
You may insist that she doesn’t put down the phone and keep talking to you as you race around to her place to try and shake some sense into her.
A scene like this would be fitting as a satirical comedy sketch, but it bears little resemblance of what retreats have to offer people into today’s fast paced world of technology, social media, and advertising.
Retreats, as their very name suggests, are places where anybody can go to escape and retreat from life for a little bit, whether this is a weekend, a week or a month.
There is no induced vow of silence, speaking in tongues, passing of a talking stick around a campfire or a week long diet of wheatgrass and seaweed. Retreats are places to meet like minded people who are eager to get back to basics and reconnect with themselves and the natural world around them. These people aren’t hippies or new age converts. They are teachers, business people, professionals and busy moms.
There are many different types of retreat, but all have a common purpose, and that is to dedicate time to self-reflection, calmness and re-energizing oneself.
Some retreats will focus more on the mind and others on physical well-being whereas some may consider a more religious pathway to a sense of inner peace. A church retreat venue would be apt for those who are looking for a deeper spiritual journey on their retreat to develop their relationship with God.
Whatever the reasons for you venturing to a retreat, you will be supported on your journey by those individuals who dedicate their time to running the retreat. They will prompt your thinking and pose questions to encourage your inner reflection.
Retreat often sounds like a solitary jaunt.
However, the communal aspect of retreat, with shared dining experiences, socializing and sleeping means you may be more vocal during your weekend, week or month away than you ever are in your day to day life.
Healthy eating, detoxing and cleansing are aspects of rejuvenation that all retreats share.
You may spend your days chatting with fellow retreaters or taking time out for yourself going on long walks, resting and contemplating. There will be instructor led sessions on relaxation techniques, yoga or mindfulness. These are skills that you can then apply to your life outside of the retreat to enhance your well-being.
Retreats are no longer seen as niche and are becoming more and more mainstream as our lives become ever more demanding.
The stresses of work life, the worries of family life and the pressures of keeping up appearances have made going on a retreat an excellent option for many people who want to focus on their health and well-being, returning to their lives renewed and refreshed.
Life as a grandma.. it's no 'quiet, restful days in the rocking-chair'. It's filled with activity, excitement and lots of family fun. Please share it with me.