A retreat is an opportunity to step away from everyday life and focus on yourself and your connection to your spirituality, no matter what form that takes shape in your life. You don’t have to be a guru, well-versed in a spiritual or religious practice, or even subscribe to a particular faith tradition to take part. All you need is the willingness to recenter your thoughts to get you going on the path that’s most right and most rewarding for you. Here are five things attending a spiritual retreat can do for you.
1. Develop a Stronger Connection to You
With the hustle and bustle of everyday life, it can be difficult to allocate time for ourselves, whether it be for exercise, meditation, prayer, relaxation, or anything else. At a retreat, you are committing to anywhere from a single day to several weeks in a setting away from home to concentrate solely on you, your thoughts, and your spiritual being. Though many of us don’t like to admit how technology makes us weak in the knees, it gives us a finite and desperately needed excuse to turn away from our cell phones and resist cyber-communication. This way, we can practice being more present and better take in what the experience at hand has to offer.
2. Make Inner Peace a Priority
If you find yourself being worn down by stress at work, home, and elsewhere in your life, a retreat is an excellent opportunity to learn, in real time, from other people who can help guide you toward the feeling you want to achieve: peace. Over the course of the retreat, you’ll be exposed to teachings that are intended to help you make sense of your every thought and realign each one in a positive and peaceful direction. You’ll have the chance to put those lessons into practice, whether through prayer, meditation, or meditation in action. Doing so sets you up with the tools to bring inner peace into your life long after the retreat is over.
3. Connect with Kindred Spirits
Retreats are created in such a way that they provide instruction yet support for overcoming your most challenging inner conflicts. These come from either experienced instructors and practitioners and fellow attendees, who, more likely than not, are there for similar reasons. In fact, connecting with others on the same wavelength is an invaluable resource. You’ll have the chance to discuss new ideas, learn about the journey of others, share your own, and exchange constructive feedback in real time. You also have the opportunity to ask pointed questions and get answers you may not be able to readily find in a book or across other sources. Overall, its this feeling of unity- that you are all working to create a more connected and peaceful life together- that offers you the chance to build relationships that may last a lifetime.
4. Have Fun
Whether you’re having trouble getting into your meditative zone, are not accustomed to talking about your feelings, feel nervous about what to expect at a retreat, you are not alone! People who attend and host retreats come from a variety of backgrounds, locations, and life experiences. Though some may be more experienced spiritual practitioners, there are certainly those for whom it is their first time. What’s more, you can be sure that the people who guide you throughout the retreat are people with their own baggage, too. Everyone traverses a unique road when it comes to self-improvement, yet its important to allow yourself some room for relaxation and just enjoy the journey.
5. Become a Better Teacher to Others
Once the retreat is over and done with, it’s time to go back to your grind. But, how can you make lessons you’ve learned from the retreat stay with you? Try setting concrete resolutions for yourself. For example, you could commit to expressing more gratitude, from anything as simple as saying “thank you” more often, offering three genuine compliments to others every day, or by keeping a gratitude journal. Not only would such specific tasks like this help you put the knowledge you’ve gained into practice, but the people around you will take notice of the progress you make in your spiritual journey. This opens a door to deeper and more meaningful conversations with the people in our lives and allows us to exchange the pearls of wisdom discovered and practiced at a retreat.
Dharma Master Cheng Yen, founder of Tzu Chi Foundation, once said that “a thousand candles may be lit from one.” Try attending a retreat for yourself and be the candle that shines a light of peace onto others.
Ultimately, You Choose What Road to Follow
Keep in mind, that at many spiritual retreats, you are not compelled to accept particular religious or sanctimonious doctrines (even if teachings related to those traditions are the central focus). You can still remain in whatever faith tradition you follow (or don’t follow), but still benefit from the universal practice of contemplation, meditation, and prayer- no matter how you choose to do so.
Regardless of what type or format you choose, it is clear that a spiritual retreat can help you cultivate self-awareness and inner peace, forge lifelong connections, and rejuvenate your being and the lives of those around you for the better. This March, Tzu Chi USA is offering it’s 2018 English Spiritual Resource Retreat from Friday, March 23rd, to Sunday, March 25th. This year’s theme is “Building a Bodhisattva Family” and will include presentations, workshops, and plenty of bonding time to help you reconnect to yourself and connect to those around you. If you are interested in attending, you can find more details here.