Philosopher J. Krishnamurti once said, “It is essential sometimes to go into retreat, to stop everything you have been doing, to stop your experiences completely and look at them anew, not keep on repeating them like machines. You would then let fresh air into your mind. This place must be of great beauty with trees, birds, and quietness, for beauty is truth and truth is goodness and love.”
Many of us are on constant overload between work, kids, family and financial concerns. As Americans, we are particularly known for living to work - the desire to constantly achieve something. With the decline in the economy and the loss of many jobs, houses and a sense of stability, we are running in circles just trying to keep up. Sometimes we just need to slow down, step away and regroup. We all deserve a break once in a while. A retreat may be the perfect way to clear your mind and rejuvenate your spirit.
So what exactly is it to “retreat?” By definition, to retreat is to withdraw from danger or difficulty and go to a place of shelter. But when the danger in your life is stress, frustration and chaos, to retreat is to withdraw from daily activities and go to a peaceful, secure place where there are no interruptions from the outside world.
When you retreat you can direct your consciousness away from your negative or toxic views and move towards a better life. Those who have experience with this have said that when they retreat, they become a more loving and compassionate person with a clear path.
Consider booking a few days at a bed and breakfast that is in a secluded area surrounded by natural beauty and enjoy some alone time without your phone or computer. If your finances do not allow it, simply drive to a place that is just far enough so you feel like you are away and spend a few hours alone. You do not have to have an agenda or do anything in particular, though many people will incorporate yoga or meditation to help reach a deeper state of relaxation. Others will take long quiet walks or hike through the mountains to distance themselves further from civilization. These are great techniques that can make your retreat all the more rewarding.
You may choose to retreat on your own or join a group. With a group, you will usually pay for a package that includes your room, food and activities. There are a few different types of group retreats that can range anywhere from 24 hours to several weeks. Here are a few of the more common ones:
These retreats are most common amongst Christians, Buddhists and some Islamic communities. When attending a spiritual retreat, you will often find yourself in a quiet place with a teacher or spiritual guide. There may be some group interaction and seminars to educate you and get you in the right frame of mind as well as leave you with tools you can take home and incorporate into your daily life. Throughout these types of retreats, it is natural to enter into periods of extended silence. These are meant to give you a chance to renew yourself and perhaps even entertain an alternate perspective to the one you’re accustomed to.
To meditate is to think deeply or to contemplate. Meditation requires practice as it involves control, proper breathing and the ability to silence a runaway mind. A meditation retreat should also take place in a quiet area away from the usual daily distractions. These retreats are great for those who may not be religious but want some spiritual guidance to get the most out of the experience. Many feel that they reach a deeper state of meditation when they are with a group.
Yoga has become one of the more popular forms of exercise practiced by people all over the world. It offers countless physical and mental benefits. With the ever growing appeal to both men and women, it’s no wonder yoga retreats are extremely popular. Many of these retreats include meditation as well. This is a great retreat whether you are a beginner or an experienced yogi. At a yoga retreat you are likely to meet many like-minded people who are ready to welcome you with a warm embrace.
It may seem like an impossible dream to leave it all behind for a while and take in the majestic beauty of the natures that surround us, but once you get there, it’s easy to forget you have any problems at all. And that’s the best prescription for any ailment!
Elaine is the former host of “The Shape Fitness Show” on 97.1FM and 980AM in Los Angeles. Check out her site at GodaiFit.com