We All Need to "Get Away From It All" Once in a While
Retreats offer wonderful opportunities to relax, get in touch with your spiritual energy, help us get a fresh start, enjoy a beautiful sunrise and/or reconnect with nature. They can be an important part of a healthy lifestyle.
Once a year I go on a weekend retreat at The Center for Spiritual Development in Southern California. Even though I am not Catholic, I cherish the peace and relaxation that comes from these heavenly weekends at this wonderful location that is run by the Sisters of St. Joseph.
My husband goes on an annual get-away at the Mater Dolorosa Passionist Center in the Sierra Madre Mountains of California. He, too, returns from these weekends feeling rested, restored and more in balance, both mentally and spiritually. In addition to these weekend events, we have also gone to retreat centers that had no religious connection. We have attended events that were organized for couples, building corporate connections, and spa weekends. Just the opportunity to connect with nature, take long walks, and spend time in contemplation is a welcome relief from the normal hectic pattern of our lives.
What do we do on a retreat?
Retreats usually focus on a particular theme. The weekend after one of our daughters was married I escaped for a weekend that had the theme of "Relax, Renew, Refresh." Wow, did I need that holiday! My most recent event was a meditation retreat. Although I have taken meditation classes in the past, and often incorporate it into my yoga practice, attending an entire weekend dealing with meditation was very uplifting. Each type of retreat you attend will have a different emphasis, and it is important to find the kind of event that you are most likely to enjoy.
What other types of retreats are there?
Some retreats are sponsored by churches and other organizations. Some corporations sponsor leadership events for their executives. On these retreats, a lot of time may be spent on team building activities, and learning to build self-confidence. At one I attended, one of the activities was a ropes course, where we practiced zip-lining, pole climbing, and other challenging activities. Spa retreats are popular with both women and couples. These weekends sometimes focuse on improving a particular health problem. There are organized retreats for smoking cessation, weight-loss, yoga, spiritual renewal and stress reduction.
There are ads at the bottom of this article for books that will help you locate the right get-away for you.
What are the benefits?
Nearly everyone I know has felt that they have benefited from going on a retreat. Most people return feeling rested and invigorated. Others feel that they have used the time to break bad habits or learn new skills. Sometimes people feel that they have used the time to connect with the spiritual aspects of their life. Often people choose to get away for a weekend so they can focus on a particular activity without distractions from their normal daily life. For example, an artist may go on an art retreat to a place where he or she can work in an inspiring environment, learn new techniques from instructors and other artists, and practice their skills in quiet and solitude.
How can I find a retreat?
If you are involved with any religious organization, talk to your local minister or other spiritual leader to find out what types of retreats your faith might sponsor. Many yoga teachers also sponsor special events, sometimes locally and sometimes in exotic locations such as the mountains or on tropical islands. Some employers sponsor weekend retreats to help with team building or to build relationships within the organization. There are also private spas that offer special weekends. Ask your friends if they can recommend one, so that you know what to expect. If you Google the word "retreats," you will find a long list, including retreats in Sedona, as well as choices for artists, couples, writers and many other options.
I hope that you have an opportunity to go on a retreat. It is a wonderful way to gain perspective on your life in a safe, nurturing environment.
Interested in learning more about prayer and meditation? You may want to read one of the articles listed below:
Here is Book of Wonderful Spiritual Retreat Centers
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Places to Go For Your Health
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(price as of Oct 30, 2014)