I rarely use that word you should, but there’s a time and a place for that — when I told my teenage son, “You should take a shower.” Or when I remind myself, “You should stop scrolling now.”
Lately, I’ve been telling clients, “You should retire.” I put withdrawals in the “should” category because I see them, like showering or limiting phone use, as part of your mental and physical hygiene in this modern world.
I went on my first retreat at the age of 14. During those rocky teenage girl years, my mom took me to the hot springs in Ojai, to sweat lodges in the Santa Ynez Mountains, and even to sing with whales on Orcas Island.
As an adult, I have traveled to retreat centers around the world with favorites in Peru, Costa Rica, and France, and now take my children me retreats and lead therapists and the general public to yoga and ACT retreats.
Why should you retire?
Because magical things will happen to you.
You are recovering physically
There’s a synergy that happens when you eat whole foods, get enough sleep, move your body, slow down nerve system, remove toxins and engage in contemplative practice. You activate yours the body’s natural ability to regenerate and heal. By the third day of withdrawal, my skin is starting to glow.
Take a break from the hustle and bustle of the day
Imagine a day without emails, phone pings, driving or to-do lists. Imagine taking the time you invested in running your life and using it to live your life. On the retreat, you have time to watch the sunset, taste the food, look people in the eye and lay down the bug as it crosses your path.
You make connections
People often think of retreat as isolating, but some of my deepest friendships have been made while on retreat. You are with like-minded people who value connection and the radical honesty that encourages vulnerable conversations and friendship. There is no makeup, phone or facade to hide behind.
You put the clothes back on
Participants can give up or start at least one new habit while there. It’s much easier to give up that glass of wine when it’s not offered for dinner or to start the morning meditation exercise when you don’t have to make breakfast for the kids. Once you’ve started and strengthened your new retreat habit, it’s established and ready to come home to more challenging environments.
You connect with nature
Retreat centers are usually located in beautiful settings. You will hear birds, see wild flowers, look at the night sky full of stars. You can’t help but feel awe and overwhelming support when you’re immersed in the natural world.
Relight yours spirituality
It’s hard to feel spiritual when your days are full of responsibilities. The quiet time, solitude, and rituals that retreats offer open the door to reconnecting with your faith or grace as you understand it. There is time for singing, prayer and meditation.
You remember who you are
There is a homecoming going on. You will meet yourself again, think about your life and where you want it to go. You take on new commitments and clarify course corrections. Doing nothing means doing something. I often get emails from retreat attendees saying they’ve come back and quit their job, ended a toxic relationship, or started a new business. You need time to make big decisions clearly, and you have all the time in the world on retreat.