Retreats are lovely aren’t they? They make us feel all comfy. We may imagine fluffy snow white bath robes, lettuce lunches, massages and yoga or perhaps self-development high energy workshops but how many retreats are we actually going on in life? Could we be overdoing it?
Every time we go on holiday, watch TV, go to the cinema, put ear plugs in, read a book or drink alcohol, we are retreating from life. There are quite a few ways that we retreat from life, observing them is a great exercise in self-awareness.
Do we feel that we need these retreats in order to break the routine, relax and enjoy life a bit more? I mean we would go mad and invite burnout if we didn’t enjoy the odd retreat, wouldn’t we?
Yes we need rest – our bodies aren’t designed to work constantly and be in constant motion; however, the way we rest doesn’t necessarily mean that we have to shut the door on our awareness and our connection to ourselves and others. We can end up building a fortress of protection that stops us from evolving. So, could retreat be a state of mind rather than an activity?
We can be in an activity, totally aware and feel rested afterwards. We can also be checked out, on auto pilot and in a mental retreat while we are doing something. It is possible to be gentle and honouring of your body and keep the door of awareness open, but it is impossible to be checked out and completely honouring of the body because we miss the body’s communications in this way. This is why I keep harping on about checking out! I have questioned this and asked myself what harm there is in checking out a little – I mean life can be too intense sometimes and I often get the urge to check out – I’m sure I’m not the only one, however…
When I go foraging in the kitchen cupboards for cookies or crisps, am I checked in or checked out? clue: I didn’t really feel hungry so I guess I was checked out. When I’m feeling upset about something, do I get irritable and react with other members of the family or do I sit and ponder on what is going on? Actually I can be smug with this one and say both!
Being curious and exploring what is going on, not just with yourself but with others and the world in general, is bringing commitment into the picture. I hate what is going on sometimes, I hate how we can be unloving with ourselves and with nature – I sometimes want to be on one long retreat – one that I may never come back from, but I also love and I am love just like you. Even though our insecurities tend to bury love deep beneath coats of protection we can feel that there is a reason to be committed to life. So yes, enjoy your retreat but enjoy increasing your self-awareness and try not to indulge to much in those mental retreats that shut the door on love.