Tips for choosing the Perfect Retreat and how to make the most of your Experience
If you google spiritual retreats, you will find stories of amazing, transformational adventures, disappointing disasters, and everything in between. It can be downright stressful trying to decide which retreat would be the best fit for what you and your soul crave. A spiritual retreat can be an experience in which we put a lot of pressure on ourselves due to having different expectations than a typical vacation.
Focus on these considerations to help make the process easier:
• A clear intention for the retreat. What is it that you want to experience? Retreats cater to different purposes, and each one will vary in its offerings. Consider what you would like to focus on; restoration, mindfulness, healthy eating, yoga, community, spiritual growth, etc. Also keep in mind “how” you want to be affected and the outcome. Example: “I want a spiritual growth experience through rest, meditation, and spending time alone that results in me reconnecting with my needs and feeling refreshed.”
• Length and cost of a retreat. Your budget may be the primary factor in determining the right retreat, including how long you stay. Retreats can range from a couple days to a month or more. They can also range from a couple hundred dollars for a weekend to thousands of dollars a day. It’s best to set a budget before you start looking. Try to avoid retreats that are out of your budget to prevent putting extra pressure on yourself to have a certain experience to get your money’s worth.
• Location. Where do you want to be? Does a retreat in a forest sound like paradise? Does a desert oasis under the stars call to your soul? How about a South American expedition to fill you with joy? Get clear on where you would like to be.
• Amenities and offerings. Do you struggle with yoga and love to eat meat? Then a vegan, yoga retreat is not going to be the experience that serves you, even if it is in your budget and the location you desire. Don’t force yourself to try to have a certain experience that doesn’t serve your needs. Find one that offers what you want and need. If you are unhappy at the retreat, you probably won’t have the spiritual experience you want. Your retreat should be enjoyable!
• Trust. If a retreat hits all the areas in your checklist but still doesn’t feel right, trust your gut! Maybe the timing isn’t right or there is a better option out there on the horizon.
Here are a few considerations to help you have the best possible experience once you have booked a retreat:
• Be open to the “journey.” Keep your clear intention in mind but surrender into the experience as it comes. Don’t try to control or force an experience or the result. Trust that it will work in the way that is best for you. Remember to step out of your comfort zone. Growth comes from new experiences and opportunity.
• Don’t judge the experience. Instead of determining that your experiences (and the people you encounter) are good or bad, stay neutral, mindful and objective. Ask how each event and personal interaction is serving your intentions for the retreat. Are challenges pushing you to grow? Are the events and encounters supporting your healing?
• Participate. You will get what you put into the retreat. Sign up for the activities, take advantage of the offerings, and connect with the other people there. However, do what feels right for you. If you feel drawn to skip an optional workshop because meditation and journaling are drawing you in, then do what feels right. If a person’s energy feels “toxic,” shield your energy and send the person compassion and healing from afar. Who knows, that person might have been drawn to the retreat to have this interaction with you.
Retreats offer us a unique opportunity to leave our everyday lives and encounter experiences that can support us spiritually. Life is an adventure, and spiritual retreats can be a beautiful stop along the way.