What I know, is that I don't know
And now I dance and I sing and I live for
I give it all to the call of the unknown. ~ Trevor Hall
I remember when I made the decision to go on my first yoga retreat. I’ve already written about how transformational that experience was for me and while at the time the decision seemed impulsive and a little bit irrational, looking back there were some key elements that really drove me to commit to the trip.
To me, these markers reveal more about why you might go on a retreat beyond simply knowing the details of the location, venue or itinerary. I am sharing these three ‘I’s' in case they help you evaluate whether going on a retreat might be your next great adventure. I also offer up a writing prompt for each one, so if you’re considering a retreat, try answering each question with stream-of-consciousness writing; allowing yourself to write freely without censoring or editing yourself.
You are seeking. Searching. You might not know exactly what you are looking for. Or, you might have a very clear intention in mind. Either way, you will find it within you.
In my experience, when I feel called to go on a retreat specifically, it’s usually because I know there is some deeper work I am meant to do. To explore. To uncover within me. For me, a retreat is so much more than going away on a holiday, it’s all about coming home to myself.
I can hear you asking: Why would I travel just to come back to myself?
Truthfully? You don’t have to.
Nope. All of the work, the inquiry, the practice, the unfolding can be done anytime, anywhere if you can surrender yourself (including your routines, your beliefs, your habits, your identities) long enough to realize your wholeness. The beauty about a retreat, however, is you are given the physical and emotional space for your self-inquiry, away from the aspects of the daily grind that get layered over top of our sense of being. A retreat where the accommodations are clean and comfortable, the food is delicious and the activities are specifically planned to create feelings of fulfillment and enjoyment, can give you that space to simply be. And from that place, you can learn so much about yourself.
Writing prompt: List the first 5 (or more) feelings that come to mind when you think about the idea of going on retreat. Then, pick two, and describe these feelings in more detail.
For me, deciding to go on a retreat feels a little bit more intuitive than when I plan to take a typical holiday. Intuition is noticing that "gut feeling" and listening to the call of your heart. It is an inner knowing; if you will.
Intuition can show up as a loud and firm YES from deep within. It can also show up softer, as a persistent but patient nudge towards taking a step in the direction of yes, like looking into flight details or talking about it with a close friend or family member. It doesn’t necessarily mean that you act impulsively—although you might. Just this week I just signed up for a writing retreat 4,000kms away within 20 minutes of learning about it (although I could also argue that I have been priming myself for this kind of indulgence over the last year).
Intuition is the voice you try to listen to especially as the mind starts to speak a little more loudly about all the reasons why you can’t, shouldn’t or couldn’t go on a retreat. You might have totally valid reasons. But if you can get still and quiet enough to know in your heart that a retreat is what you need, then trust that voice and do what you can to act on the ‘yes’.
Intuition also comes into play when you’re choosing your retreat, especially if you don’t know the teacher or have never been to the venue before. Do your due diligence, to be sure, but there is a lot to be said for following the feeling you get about the retreat as a whole. If the retreat description resonates with you, you’ll find yourself thinking about it often and daydreaming about what it might be like to be there.
Writing prompt: What does my heart want me to know about this?
Choosing to go on a retreat is choosing to honour your Self: body, mind and spirit.
Full disclosure: somewhere along my path I adopted a negative connotation about the word ‘indulgence’. It sounds selfish and shallow to me, and I paused to question whether it was the right word to use for this post.
Then I looked up the definition: allow oneself to enjoy the pleasure of.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with enjoying your life. And when the pleasures you choose for yourself have the added benefit of self-development and deepening your connection to the truth, love and beauty of who you are at your core, even better! From that place, we give so much of that love back out into the world. What can be bad about that?
So treat yo’ self or practice self-care or indulge in life. Filling yourself up in a way that leads you to give more of yourself to others is good for all.
Writing prompt: You are worthy. Read these words several times. What comes up when you read those words? Then, finish this sentence: ‘I am worthy of…’
The decision to go on a retreat can lead to a life-changing experience that opens up your mind to new possibilities, your heart to your purpose and your spirit to the truth of who you are.
I am leading a week-long retreat in the South of France from November 10-17, 2018. You can read more about the Life in Balance Yoga Retreat, or contact me directly if you have any questions. There is only one double room and one triple-share room left, so place your deposit now to secure your spot!