Why do we “retreat?” What is it about a retreat’s theme or title that draws us to it? What is it about a certain retreat that asks us to dedicate our time and resources to become a part of it, physically, mentally and spiritually?
I am in the process now of completing agendas for various retreats and workshops that I am offering either by myself or with amazing colleagues, and I find myself asking these questions through the eye of my “target audience.” What can I offer to others that is meaningful, thought-provoking, useful and perhaps even life changing? What kind of experience can I create for folks that will make it worth their while to come spend time with me and the experience I have to give?
I look back on lectures, workshops, retreats and classes that I have taken that truly made a difference for me. The ones that stand out in my memory have a few things in common.
First of all, the space, the ambience, the amenities, the attention to detail, yes, even the “Wow” factor. I wanted to step into a different world when I went on my retreats, and the setting created the atmosphere within me to be prepared for something very special to happen, and “it” usually did!
Then, no matter what the theme, subject or mission of the retreat, I could always be blown away by gifted teachers and how they shared their information. I could always tell when instructors were well prepared and well versed in what they presented. And I always loved those guides who were so enthusiastic about what they taught, and how they made us jump for joy, too. When materials and adjunct teaching tools were used, these complemented and enhanced the retreat’s theme, were “user-friendly,” and great “take-aways.”
But the best retreats I participated in were the ones that made profound differences in my everyday life. What I learned from these retreats was not something that I had to leave home for, go somewhere, and never find a practical application once I got back to “normal.” The best retreats made my day-to-day life just that much more wonderful, and opened my eyes to possibilities of joy forever.
So I remember these retreats, and how I experienced them, and what about them made me a better person for having attended. As my colleagues and I go about putting final touches on our retreats and other learning opportunities, we will keep going back to this “drawing board” by asking ourselves if we are manifesting a “time well-spent” event that is “share-worthy,” and beautiful to all five senses. May we all “retreat well.”