by Chantal Di Donato: Ever reached that point when everything around you is falling apart and you need a serious break?
Most of us, especially in busy cities with equally busy lives, feel that way! I hit the wall a few times a year, when I know I need to unplug completely – from my surroundings, my phone and even people around me. When we get to that point, most of us would normally say that we need a “vacation.” But is a vacation enough?
I love traveling, it is a true passion, but since I became a yoga teacher, I woke up to a great reality: vacations are not always enough! Of course, it is great fun to get away, visit terrific places around the globe, maybe even chasing the sun, but oftentimes, we select places that have so much to see and do, that by the end of the vacation, we are exhausted and need another break to recuperate from the holiday we just had!
Yoga, meditation and other holistic healing retreats are the answer when a holiday is just not enough. There is something about retreats that is very special and can really create a platform for transformation! How, you ask? Here 10 reasons why your next holiday should be a retreat:
1. It is all about ME time
Holidays surely mean fun, discoveries and adventures, but if you are in need to care for your wellbeing, a retreat is the only place you can get the “ME” time you deserve. The idea of a retreat is to create a safe space where you can nurture your body and soul. The atmosphere is relaxed, everything is taken care of and you really have to do nothing but enjoy the activities, surroundings, food and company (or alone time if you need that).
2. An opportunity to feel present
Retreats are designed to offer a comprehensive escape embedding fun with relaxation. Because the activities, classes, therapies and meals are made for you, you can enjoy being present without needing to plan anything! At most, when you have free time from classes, you can decide if you wish to visit the surroundings, cities nearby or nature, all at your own pace, without any schedule or watch to adhere to.
3. Allowing a break for the digestive system
Most retreats will offer comprehensive meals in the package and generally the idea is to have food that can boost your body’s ability to work at its best and even kick-start a little detoxification plan! You can certainly look for specific dietary requirements (like a juicing retreat) but retreats often include food that is healing and can support good digestion and even the restoration of a healthy gut!
4. Daily routines to calm the mind
Routine in the standard sense can be quite tiring! We see getting up, going to work and going back home as routine too, but it doesn’t make us feel very well. On retreats, the routines created are for health! Routines (like yoga classes in the morning and meditation classes in the evening) can allow the body to feel in tune with the rhythm of the retreat and discover how to calm down knowing that those healing activities can impact your brain and body positively.
5. Meeting like-minded people
On holiday, we may meet a lot of people, but oftentimes the context does not allow for deep connections. We may meet someone on the beach or at a restaurant or bar, but when we spend enough time with someone like we do on retreats, we can really enjoy discovering who they are and connecting deeply. Research shows that it takes a person an average of seven hours to start trusting another. On retreats, you will spend a lot of time with people who, like you, are there to find a way to relax, to discover their inner voice. Therefore, you can share something deeper than a drink with them, and many people return home friends from retreats!
6. Time slows down
A fascinating thing I noticed on all my retreats was how time seemed to slow down. It is quite daunting that we spend our days rushing from one place or task to another and time flies! Retreats allow time to slow down because we are no longer chasing tasks; we are living in the present! That sort of connection allows us not to worry about our watches, but rather feel that we are enjoying what we are doing right “NOW.” It is a pretty powerful state of mind and it affects how we perceive time in every possible way!
7. Personal growth
I have a little anecdote about a group of girls who came to my retreat to Morocco last year. When I went to pick them up at the airport, at their arrival, they seemed distressed and tired, were happy to be there but had a very chaotic energy about them! A week later, when they left from the same airport, their aura was completely transformed. I always wish I had filmed their arrival and departure to show the difference! It looked like they had blossomed and found inner peace!
Being on the retreat, eating live foods and connecting with people around them allowed a lot of fears, frustration and discomfort to leave and allowed space for growth. The retreat had some tears, moments of distress when dealing with personal issues and emotions, but the result was all worth it! This is probably the biggest difference between a vacation and a retreat and why retreats are so powerful! You go there knowing that you want to feel better and, consciously or not, are ready to deal with personal demons and open up the door that will take you to the next level.
8. Human Touch
This one’s another personal favorite when it comes to retreats. I love the idea that someone is there 24/7 to take care of me, to nurture me, and just pamper me and assist all my needs! From yoga classes to massages or coaching sessions, retreats offer so many opportunities to feel seen and heard! Most of us need that, in a world where we seem to be part of a rushing herd and we are dying to stand out! I love feeling unique and retreats are designed to accommodate accordingly!
9. Accommodates all budgets!
Just like holidays, retreats also accommodate according to our budget. You can select a standard, daily yoga and accommodation retreat up to five stars experiences. You can read feedback from people and see what their experience was and normally the feedbacks are very comprehensive, giving a good idea of how the entire retreat is, from classes to hosts to food.
It is nice to know what to expect and it is nice to know you can tailor your experience so that even if your budget is not big, you can still allow your retreat to give you an amazing time. I personally prefer to save for slightly more comprehensive retreats so that everything I need is taken care of, but I love that there are choices for everyone!
10. You realize retreats are holidays
The beauty of retreats is that they turn out to be the vacation you needed, to begin with! Although some people think all retreats are about drinking clay, keeping quiet and meditate for days, the options available allow so much choice and the opportunity to create the experience you want with so much more! Time to think, staying quiet, enjoying the surroundings and people, as well as the freedom to visit a new place, country and exploring the culture, all come with the knowledge that everything has been taken care of and you can just relax! This is what I call a vacation!
Whether you are a seasoned “retreater” or a newbie, I can ensure that you will not only love the experience but become addicted to it! Retreats have transformed the way I see holidays and although I still enjoy traveling all over, I find that the opportunity to stay in a beautiful place being looked after allows me to heal within and out, feel better about myself and gives me time to make better decisions in life too. A moment to STOP and RESET; that is truly life changing!