I have had the joy of going on a number of retreats, both as a participant and as the facilitator! I think of retreats as Camp for Adults! If you’ve been to sleepaway camp or even day camp as a child, you recall it’s filled with fun, but we also explore ourselves, and new opportunities!
Retreat is defined by dictionary.com as “the act of withdrawing, as into safety or privacy; retirement; seclusion.” Also as “a place of refuge, seclusion, or privacy.” Merriam-Webster defines it as “a period of group withdrawal for prayer, meditation, study, or instruction under a director.”
Cambridge Dictionary’s definition suits me best: “a private and safe place:” and “a period of time used to pray and study quietly, or to think carefully, away from normal activities and duties.”
However, my personal definition is still even more aligned with my thinking: “intentionally withdrawing from everyday activities to a safe space in order to reflect on one’s Self.” (Notice the capital Self. This is about our higher Being, the Self that is more than our thoughts and body.)
I feel I’ve been doing this my whole life.
Summer camp as a child was a time for me to journal, to try new things, discover who I am. I recall Camp Tocanja, my first sleep away camp. It was a Girl Scout camp about 3 hours away from home in Michigan. That may be when my love for Michigan started. Camp Tocanja hosted 2 week sessions. The first year was a generic experience, exploring all the camp had to offer including hiking, swimming, boating, arts and I’m sure more. We slept in raised tents, 4 girls to a tent. I went there for 3 years that I recall.
The second year was a primitive camping experience, where we pitched our own tents AND dug our own toilet. Yes you read that correctly. We dug a hole under a very large fallen branch, so we could use that for the seat! Of course many of us waited until we went to meals and used the bathrooms at the dining hall, but if you had to go, you had to go!
The last year I did a focus on sailing! I loved the water. I still do! When I look at photos of the lake now, man it was a small lake! But at the time, it was huge and I loved exploring it with my little Sunfish!
In middle school I went to leadership camp for student council. My first experience at co-ed camp. I definitely learned so much about me at this camp. We not only did the normal outdoor camp things, but we experimented with leadership. We learned to take charge of ourselves and lead our schools. To this day I still have the book they sold, “Lifelines for Leaders.”
Why do I recall these summers as Retreats?
Well I withdrew from family and friends. They were both safe spaces. At both, I recall journaling, questioning my beliefs, expanding my thoughts, and exploring life in ways I could never have done at home. It fits every definition!
As an adult, I prided myself on taking vacations. But not all vacations are retreats. Some vacations are active, like my honeymoon in 2002 where we went scuba diving every day. We toured the island of St Croix. We tasted new food. But I didn’t withdraw and discover more about myself. I had tons of fun, but it was more an active vacation filled with doing, not being.
But then there are the vacations when we are exploring our likes and dislikes. We are spending time with our thoughts. These vacations tend to be more impactful in who we are. We may still be busy doing, but we also slow down and “chill.” We may read or journal. We may immerse ourselves in local culture and food. Our trip in 2015 to Guatemala was a retreat. We stayed at Lake Atitlan, surrounded by Mayan Culture and far removed from civilization. We immersed ourselves in the culture, made local food and discovered their history. This was a retreat. As I came home feeling more in touch with my true Self. I found deeper meaning in life.
Another example was a vacation to St Anne Canada, near Quebec. Mark and I were having some marital issues and we used this trip to reconnect with each other. To let go of our daily responsibilities and explore our surroundings while also exploring our relationship. It was our own couple’s retreat. And I recall coming home feeling a sense of reconnection.
As Yoga became a bigger part of our lives, we discovered Yoga Retreats! Our good friend Katie, owner of Yoga Bohemia was my mentor when it came to hosting a retreat! If you know Katie, you know she is an expert on Retreats! She knows exactly how to create a safe space. How to encourage one to let go of the every day and explore not just their Yoga practice, but their surroundings. I recall my first retreat with Katie. It was just down the shore on LBI here in NJ, so about a bit more than an hour from home. But I felt I was away from everything. I discovered at this retreat my scarcity mindset but I also discovered I was much more spiritual than I showed. This retreat was the start of my mindset journey.
Personal Development Retreats
Then there were Tony Robbins’ Retreats! We went to Florida and experienced Date with Destiny. And then to Amsterdam for Life and Wealth Mastery. At each event, I discovered more and more about myself. About who I am. Who I want to become.
It’s no wonder that we now belong to a coaching program that includes 3 retreats a year! A safe space where to intentionally discover more of my Self.
In 2017 I began hosting Yoga Retreats. Each with their own intention! Designed in slightly different ways. Some for the yoga. Others with the partnership of Love Myself Revolution Coach, Amy Powers on Self-Care.
April 2020 was supposed to have been my first solo Mindset Retreat to Cabo San Lucas. We all know what happened in 2020! It never happened. But that hasn’t discouraged me in the least! Just a few weeks ago we hosted our first Day Retreat, focused on Healing in Nature. It was a success and I’m looking forward to planning our next one for Winter!
Vacation with a Purpose
You don’t have to go on a Formal Retreat to have it be a Retreat. You simply need to intentionally make in one. It’s taking a Vacation with a Purpose. It taking a day away from everything, consciously reconnecting or exploring your Self.
And if you want to take a Vacation with a Purpose with me, check out our DREAM Retreat to St Croix in April 2022. DREAM being an acronym for: Decide, Release doubt, Empower yourself, Action every day and always be Mindful.