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The Power of Retreats by Janelle Hutcheson

Do you ever feel like you are running on empty?

Amid a hectic work week, have you ever envisioned yourself lying on the beach with your favorite drink in your hand?

Do you ever yearn for silent moments to unwind and reflect? Are you ready for a break from the hustle and bustle of the rat race we call life?

I can answer a reverberating yes to all these questions and if you can answer yes to at least one I invite you to continue reading.

Erno Paasilinna once penned the words “It is also a victory to know when to retreat”. I wholly concur.  When life happens, we often find ourselves hungry for an opportunity to refuel, rejuvenate and reset.

Over the years ‘retreating’ has provided an outlet through which I am able to accomplish this.

The question may be asked, what is retreating? A simple yet impactful definition captured my attention, as I browsed the internet.  To “withdraw from enemy forces as a result of their superior power or after a defeat”.

Although this article is not from the perspective of war, I thought the definition was fitting and could be applied to our everyday life.

In our existence, things happen. We live, learn, and grow. We make plans, experience disappointments, fail, and succeed.  As we encounter the things, we can’t control coupled with the things that result from our own actions, good or bad we earnestly try to keep our heads above water in our perpetual journey for our lifetime.

It is this journey that can become the enemy of our souls, that is waiting to harm or destroy our very being but for the power of being able to withdraw from it routinely.

As early as primary school I remember attending church summer camps that were located off the beaten tracks. There were no electronic games, phones, computers, or televisions allowed for a full seven days yet, I certainly didn’t miss them.

The week was decorated with activities including sports, chores that were tackled in teams, lots of healthy competitions including bible quizzes, good food, fellowship, and plain good conversation on nature walks our mountain climbs. Even though the camp week seemed to involve endless activities, I returned the home feeling, rested and refueled. I was ready to take on the next day and week.

The break from the routine of my life even as a student allowed for moments where I was spiritually uplifted and fed with meat that inspired and challenged me beyond my status. This feasting from the table of many speakers and fellow campers gave me an opportunity to fill up and be ready to pour out to someone else.

With all of the experiences of adult life, we may lose ourselves.  We can either really don’t know who we are anymore because we’ve given many pieces of ourselves away to others or, because we’ve spent so much time helping others find their happiness, being responsible, and moving from one experience to another, we have no idea how to put ourselves back together again.

Realizing now that these routine annual breaks from life were instrumental to the stellar experiences that I had each summer, I have continued the tradition of attending retreats.

One of the most recent retreats I attended was “The Inspire, Create and Activate” Retreat rebranded The Evolving Woman Retreat, and what an experience it was!

To begin with, the location was idyllic.  This retreat was held on one of the most beautiful Islands in the Bahamas.

Imagine waking up to the sound of sea waves crashing against the shoreline.  There is a smell of the natural earth wet by raindrops and a stillness in the atmosphere that makes you remember this is not your everyday life. This location was not only perfect for relaxation, it screamed untouched beauty and tranquility. The view of the sunrise and sunset was sufficient to calm and bring peace to your customarily racing mind which is now able to unwind or become inspired as you sit on the balcony by yourself or should you decide to interact with fellow “retreaters “ it is at your leisure and your pace.

At Inspire, Create and Activate, not only was the environment conducive to relaxation /rejuvenation it allowed for refueling. The carefully planned activities and sessions were not just reflective, and allowed for soul searching but were also loaded with ‘fuel’ that would allow you to tackle head-on life when you return to it.

Again, at this retreat, maybe it was the absence of the influence of media, nature walks, or just scheduled time for quiet time daily but these breaks made me feel like a new person, more optimistic about tackling life, my tank was filled up and I was ready to hit the road, to continue to grow and to evolve.

It has become evident that health and wellness extend beyond the physical.  Science gives credence to this theory. Well-being includes physical but also mental and emotional health.

How do we ensure that emotionally we are well and mentally we are strong?

I revert to the quote mentioned earlier by Erno Paasilinna, “It is also a victory to know when to retreat”.

It seems then that it is not only prudent but powerful to allow ourselves to routinely retreat from life as we know it to make the best of our journey.

What might a retreat look like for you? It should be tailor-made to your situation. It may or may not look like a week-long getaway or a picturesque hiatus on a beautiful island in the Bahamas. It may take the form of an extended walk for an hour or two on your favorite nature trail. Whatever it looks like, I admonish you to take the time to make it happen. Decide that whether it is individual or group, you will retreat routinely as there is evidently power in doing so.

Top 5 Women Retreats

  1. The Evolving Woman Retreat, Bahamas

  2. Lady Grey’s Outrageous Paris Retreat

  3. Surfing & Yoga in Mexico

  4. The Retreat Costa Rica, Costa Rica

  5. L’Auberge de Sedona’s new Revitalization Retreats