Summer might be the time for vacations, but many people do not come back from a week of travel fully refreshed and revitalized. A hectic work schedule is traded for a frenzied week of visiting as many places as possible, staying up late and overindulging in rich foods. The key isn't to just give up crazy vacations, but to find a balance between work, family, rest and fun. One way you might explore spiritual rest is to take a retreat. Although you might have to search for a particular place to go on a retreat, there are many different organizations that offer a chance to step aside from life in a setting of peace and quiet.
Is a Retreat Right for You?
If you want some quiet time to reflect on your goals and aspirations, a retreat might be the right place. You can plan to deepen your spiritual life or have time to pray. You may know what you hope to accomplish on your retreat, but you don't have to. Many yoga studios offer retreats that can help you focus on developing your yoga skills as well as having time away from the hustle and bustle of the world.
Many retreats are open to anyone who wishes to attend, but each organization may have some different rules. Some places offer gender-specific retreats. However, that may not be a big consideration if time is structured for prayer and meditation because the goal of a retreat is not to meet other people, but to have quiet time alone.
To have a successful retreat, you will have to be able to shut your phone off for a few days. You may not be readily accessible to family and work. Although that may seem like a tall order, it wasn't that long ago that people relied on letters for a lot of communication. Planning for your absence before the retreat will help you relax once you finally get there.
What Happens on a Retreat?
At the Abbey of Gethsemani, Thomas Merton's monastery, speaking is only permitted in certain areas of the compound. The abbey has acres of woods and fields to walk in. The retreat is mostly unstructured and undirected, but the abbey does have a timetable for services and prayer. This retreat will be very different than one at a Buddhist community.
Most retreats do have some things in common:
Time for individual prayer or reflection Accommodations on-site with meals provided Spaces for prayer and meditation A library with religious or spiritual texts
Some retreats will offer time with a spiritual host, but you may also have to request this. The length may vary, and some places offer one-day retreats where you can have a quiet day without distractions.
If you still aren't convinced that a retreat might be right for you, consider a few things. It's not only about recharging your own batteries. You may have a position at work that is vital, but others need to be able to function without your presence. On a retreat, not only do you learn that life goes on without your phone and laptop, but others learn that they can be independent and get along without you. Your kids might miss you, but dad, grandparents or an aunt and uncle can take care of them for a couple of days without anyone's world falling apart.
A retreat lets you focus on yourself for a few days. Everyone needs this R&R time, especially in today's fast-paced world. You owe it to yourself to make sure you are going in the right direction and pursuing your dreams and goals. A retreat can be humbling and refreshing.