I can spend a very long time listing all the benefits that I have experienced from going on regular retreats (and this is still one of my favourite treats and necessities in my life). Perhaps, it is most important to hear from others (see below for some testimonials) and see below some of the reasons as to why retreats can be of benefit to us.
In some ways, going on regular nourishing retreats is a form of preventative medicine (if we decide to attend one when our life has not completely fallen apart) and in this case we get to make a difference in our own lives without waiting for something terrible to happen and then start firefighting and trying to make quick changes in our own lives.
Based on the feedback from previous retreat participants, that in one way or the other mindfulness retreat can really save or empower our life there are a number of reasons for attending a mindfulness retreat:
1. Regular Holidays and Mindfulness Retreats are Very Different
How often have you returned from a holiday to feel as though you need another holiday just to recover from that experience (even though it was a really lovely you somehow feel more stressed and less recharged).
Prior to going on a holiday we end up working harder so that we are up to date on everything and then when we are on holiday we continue “doing” holiday things. Mindfulness retreats are different as they are all about being where you are and almost immediately your stress begins to unravel (compared to regular holidays where that might not be the case).
Due to the schedule of mindfulness retreats (practices, eat, sleep etc) the end result is feeling rested, recharged and restored thanks to the 4R’s (Reflect, Reconnect, Renourish, Rediscover). Regular holidays can sometimes leave you feeling exhausted and giving yourself a balance of both can make all the difference in your life.
2. Stress and Burnout are Major Culprits for Many Difficulties
In the fast paced society that we live in stress and burnout, regardless if it is physical, mental or emotional, are the real causes of many of our ailments. These make our lives less enjoyable, supress our immune system, cause various physical and emotional struggles and overall decreased personal resilience. It might seem surprising that stopping smoking is less important than stopping stress (or handling stress differently). A study that collected data over a period of ten years concluded that emotional stress was a bigger predictor of death from cancer and cardiovascular disease than smoking.
Mindfulness retreats can teach you to deal with your stresses and difficulties differently as well as provide you with a stress free zone that cannot be found in our regular holidays or even with your daily practices of certain classes or weekly massages etc.
3. Importance of Food and Restorative Eating
Eating well is rather important and yet when stressed and fully engaged in the busyness of our life it is usually the food that is first affected as we go to unhealthy eating habits.
The best way to help with regards to nutrition is to eat 3 organic, locally sourced and delicious meals per day with healthy snack. Mindfulness retreat offers you exactly that. Eating well and not worrying about food and not stressing about cooking contributes to feeling nourished and restored during the retreat.
Ask yourself when was last time that you ate 10 healthy meals in a row (for a 4-day retreat) or 21 meals in a row (for a week long retreat)?
4. Social Media and Digital Connections = Less Connectivity to Yourself and Your Life
What is it that are we doing with this precious thing called “life” if we’re not working on feeling more connected?
Wi-fi and digital connectivity at the retreat is very limited and you are encouraged to disconnect from your phones and computers and other distracting channels of communication.
I am sure that as you are reading this, you might be losing even more interest for attending a retreat.
Please bear in mind that with less digital connectivity you will feel more connected, to yourself, to the nature, your daily practices, to other group participants, and most of all connecting to caring about yourself in a way that is loving and kind as opposed to constantly pushing yourself with perfectionism and to do lists etc. As a result of connecting to yourself during the retreat and some of the practices there is a possibility of you feeling like a little child that is enjoying life in the present and with everything that it can offer.
5. Daily Regular Practice of at Least 5 Hours
What is your daily practice of mindfulness at the moment? Five minutes, 20 minutes or 40 minutes per day? And does it really happen every day? On these retreats, we do a minimum of 5 hours of mindfulness practices (bodyscan, mindful movement [stretch, yoga and tai chi], sitting meditation, sound meditation, seeing meditation, walking meditation) spread throughout a whole day. Plus, there might be additional mindfulness/self-compassion practices that are related to the topics of the days (creativity, inner child, music, art, drawing). Then there are walks around the lake and forest, with mindful gazing, and sometimes sitting silently around the fire with other participants and being present – these are all different forms of mindfulness. There are breaks as well and silence is cultivated as best as possible, you get to be better acquainted with the sound of silence and recognising how trained we are to always somehow communicate with those around us. Retreat is about communicating with ourselves first than with others.
Past participants have commented that allowing themselves to be fully immersed in a mindfulness retreat has changed the way they see the world. And the neuroscience tells us that mindfulness changes our neural activity, biochemistry, immunity levels as well as our blood pressure.
6. You Somehow Want to Rediscover and Reinvent Yourself
In our day to day life, the Monkey Mind is working overtime – that is your mind running around in circles and jumping from different voices in your head, as well as overthinking chatter with often useless commentary and then there are general worries about things that do not get changed or improved by continually worrying anyway. When we teach the mind to find solace in quietness and the present moment and the breath that is here and now we are allowing ourselves to recognise the ability of rediscovering and reinventing ourselves, if we choose to.
When we find this state of presence and ability to see things from different perspectives with curiosity then we discover many profound and fulfilling moments. It is from this place of awareness and calm that we contribute the most to this world, make best decisions, and really make a difference to ourselves and others around us.
So if you want to commit to your health and well-being or wellness in general, create better lifestyle habits and become kinder to yourself then it is worth remembering that these can never be attained from the place that is riddled and ruled by the monkey mind. It is only when we change our relationship with the busy mind and the monkey gets quieter that we can access this part of ourselves. And with daily mindfulness practices as well as attending a retreat we can definitely get there.
7. Everywhere You Go Mindfulness & Self-Compassion Can Follow You
After the retreat, participants leave recharged and refreshed and with plenty of new tools to take back home with them. These are rather powerful tools that can keep the momentum of mindfulness going and this is really important. Even if you could not take anything away, being on a retreat is still deemed extremely valuable. Of course there is an added benefit of taking with you your arts and crafts that you have spent valuable time working with (great reminders of your retreat experiences). On every retreat you learn something new, either about yourself or others or just about anything. You are learning it from your practices, places you visit, people around you, that mountain or lake you experienced, or the sky you connected to.
So Give Yourself a Gift of Presence and Join Me on the Mindfulness/Self-Compassion Retreat!
You will not be disappointed!