Have you ever participated in a retreat? Was it for spiritual growth or as an education experience? Perhaps it was a healing retreat to help find relief for a physical or emotional challenge. Was the retreat a weekend or week long experience? Did you spend the money to travel to this retreat and find that your life was changed making the value was very high for you? Or did you have a negative attitude about time and money spent on a retreat-like experience?
Many people have paid lots of money to go on vacation. Some vacations are “retreats” in practice, if not in name. Weeks on a cruise ship or a golf vacation are actually retreat-like but perhaps without the focus upon a specific outcome. Most people hold vacations in their memory for their entire lives. These were rewarding experiences that, in subtle ways, may have changed your life.
There are retreat centers that have recognizable names such as Esalen on the Big Sur coast in Northern California. Since 1962, Esalen Institute has offered healing and “growth” retreats for professional development and for the general public. This is a model that has been duplicated, in principle, by many other organizations. Often a retreat is “lead” by a therapist, author, philosopher, artist, poet, healer or expert in some emotional or physical process. There are many styles and formulas that can be used to impart the necessary information. Often people who attend these retreats learn that the information they receive is secondary to the experience of the “process” that brings individuals and the group to their highest levels of insight. The “process” is what the retreats are really all about and this cannot be gleaned from books, audios, videos, or conference calls. This process can include the physical and emotional experience of connection to the information and also the connections made with others attending the retreat. The connections are important and possibly even therapeutic, making the experience a life changing event. By making these meaningful connections with others you can change your self-awareness and in doing so change your life.
Not all retreats benefit every participant deeply. Every participant brings to the retreat their own energy, history, and past experience. Not everyone who leads a retreat is skillful at reaching out to every participant. In some cases, the connections are not made and so the retreat experience may have less value. Some participants go with the belief and intention that it will change their lives for the better. They are ready to transform and do not resist the new insights or deny the insights they experience. Often people fear change and resist the process.
Insights gained from retreats can have long-lasting effects. These changes may happen rapidly and be integrated into the participant’s life in dramatic ways or they may manifest more slowly over time and have a seemingly subtle effect. Rapid, sudden change is not always good or even long lasting.
If you are reading this blog and have made it this far, I would appreciate you contributing the past experiences you have had on personal growth retreats. Why did you go? What did you expect? What knowledge, information, or benefits did you receive from the process? How did the experience change your life? Did the connections you made with other people or with the process continue in your life? Would you recommend a specific retreat process and why was this retreat so life-changing for you? Thanks in advance for your input. (Send your thoughts to firstname.lastname@example.org)
I have lead retreats for many years and I am building new retreat processes for the future. My dream has been to build a retreat process that helps to pair people with specific health or emotional challenges, like PTSD, anxiety, chronic pain, etc, with professional therapists and coaches who wish to be trained in assisting individuals or groups of people in the processes that can relieve these challenges. I have floated around the country offering programs in various venues but I would love to see a retreat facility that has been created to certain specific criteria so the very best retreat work can be accomplished. Any thoughts on this are also welcome.
I appreciate your time and attention. I hope to meet with you in a rewarding and productive retreat process in the future. Until then, please take good care of yourself. AND, keep open and growing along your way.
If you would like to explore the Retreat Process for yourself or for your organization contact the Stress Education Center through www.dstress.com.