7 Reasons why going on Retreat is damaging to your health - Scientifically Proven!
The interconnections between spirituality and science is becoming more widely spoken about each day, in the national press, on talk shows, and the like. The merging of the two in all respects, from journals and articles, research, and even retreats, is becoming ever more prevalent…
Thus, what other way to assess the health benefits of a retreat other than to carry out a scientific study…
The results are SHOCKING!!
However, I am not a scientist, I have never worked in a laboratory, nor do I ever aspire to! So, how else could I carry out this experiment?...
Well, rather than a traditional scientific experiment, I have opted to go down the ‘back to basics’ route.
In other words, I am going to forget laboratories, brain scans, heart rates, full body x-rays, etc. Instead I am going to go with real people, real life, the guy on the street, ordinary people, people like you and me.
Let’s just ask people, observe people, and most importantly, watch ourselves.
I have spent a huge part of my life going on retreats, and also sharing time with others who have also gone on retreat, somewhere, at some time in their lives, for some reason…
So how did they all feel about retreats and the subsequent health benefits, or lack thereof, of retreat life?
Monday - Retreat Day 1
You’ll make new friends from all around the world.
Usually on the first day of any retreat people are nervous, eager to make connections with others, and to make the transition from home to retreat life much easier for themselves.
Everyone is open, friendly and keen to chat. This continues throughout the retreat as emotions often overflow, people open up, and there has usually been a lot of laughter and tears in equal measure. Due to the unusual and extraordinary nature of retreats away from our normal, daily lives, connections between fellow retreaters are made swiftly, intensely and bonds run deep.
Therefore, it is without doubt that you will leave a retreat having made strong friendships, some of which will last a lifetime – I can vouch for that!
Tuesday - Retreat Day 2
You’ll discover more about yourself and you'll replace old habits.
Often on the second day of a retreat you realise that you have to stay here for a week, if not longer… Spending a period of time away from your normal routine and daily life, and time spent on your own away from friends, family and colleagues, means that your mind has the freedom to let go, open up and you have the space to find yourself again. Often questions arise such as “What do I really want?” “Am I happy?”, and “What shall I do next?”… Yes, these are all scary questions which we often avoid asking ourselves, and push to the back of our mind.
On retreat, the peace, the quiet, nature, solitude, freedom and unique atmosphere mean that we are often more free and confident to allow these thoughts to come up… and sometimes we find the answers we were searching for, answers that before we were too scared to admit… (And very often nothing arises – and that’s fine too!)
It’s an adventure, a journey, and life-changing!
Wednesday - Retreat Day 3
Understand and appreciate how hard you work.
On the third day of a retreat your body clock is slowly adjusting and adapting itself to retreat life. Being on retreat away from the usual 9 to 5 work, and all the responsibilities of our lives, enables us to look at our normal day to day living through new eyes. We often come away asking ourselves; “Wow!!! Do I really do all that everyday?!” And the answer is usually ‘Yes! I do!!!’ And very often that’s OK.
We love our job, our kids, our partner, and our lives, and we would do it all a hundred-fold for them all, all over again! But it’s good every once in a while to give ourselves a pat on the back for everything that we do and acknowledge how hard we work.
Retreat life can give us the space to look at our lives from a different perspective and appreciate all the positive things we bring to ourselves and others each and every day of our lives.
Thursday - Retreat Day 4
You’ll foster a new outlook on health & wellbeing.
On Day 4 of a retreat, and every other day too, you will take part in one or more of the following;
Yoga, meditation, dancing, singing, relaxation, massage, spa, Reiki, NLP, pranayama, painting, writing, walking, cycling, sipping tea, taking photos, laughing, talking, sharing, silence, sleeping, eating, reading, resting, writing, smiling, crying, talking, solitude, nature, birdsong, waterfalls, bathing, sunshine, raindrops, teardrops, friendship…
Is it any wonder you leave a retreat with a new outlook on your health, your well-being, your life?!!
Friday - Retreat Day 5
You'll detox digitally.
On earlier days in the retreat you have been itching to check Facebook and other social media. Day 5 (if not before) can often bring a shift in your relationship to technology and other trappings of our modern, hi-tech lives.
Although WiFi is often available on a retreat, there is usually so much going on, so many amazing, absorbing, and inspiring activities, that ‘plugging in’ is the last thing on your mind…
And if you do sometimes get tempted to just ‘check Facebook’ and your emails, etc, sometimes just resisting for a moment or two on a retreat is so empowering and freeing… And then by the end of the week many people find that they are no longer so ‘addicted’ to their social media sites and have actually enjoyed the break from it.
Many often go on to report that after leaving a retreat they feel less reliant on their ‘smartphone’ and feel a new sense of freedom! ‘Switching off’ is now an option that they hadn’t even considered before!
Saturday - Retreat Day 6
You'll eat well without having to do all the work.
This really is one of the best things for many people on retreat! Not simply because you are served delicious, vegetarian, home-cooked food, but because with one less thing to worry about, it gives you yet even more space and freedom to actually be on retreat, be with yourself, and rest.
I know, it’s strange that the simple task of cooking a meal, that we all do two or three times a day, every day, can become such a chore. But if you think about it, that could be two or three hours a day, which can total over twenty hours a week… it’s a lot of time!! So being able to let someone else do that for you on retreat can really be a source of freedom and relaxation to enable you to spend even more quality time with yourself… and simply just be…
Perhaps on Day 6 you’ll wonder how you ever managed to fit cooking into your day… carry on being spoiled for a few more days…
You'll relax, de-stress and enjoy living, whatever life throws at you.
You’ll actually unwind, relax and find some time for yourself on retreat. Maybe you’ll even learn to meditate, or practise yoga, have a spa and massage, go for a walk on the beach, or cycle to a waterfall…
You’ll remind yourself of the simple pleasures in life, you’ll remember how it felt as a child to smile and laugh for no reason, the joy of skimming a pebble into the sea, the wind in your face, and how it feels to go for a stroll with a friend by your side, share a flask of hot chocolate, and gaze up at the stars in the night sky… You’ll really start to live!!
With this new mindset and fresh take on life, once you return home after your time on retreat you will have a new source of strength, courage and love. Whatever life has in store for you next, you know that you will be able to handle it, embrace it, move forward, and smile.
You'll appreciate home.
Although most people are not ready to go home, and after such an empowering and exhilarating time they want to stay on retreat a little longer… being on retreat does allow you to return home with a fresh perspective on your life, with renewed energy, and a rich source of love which your loved ones, friends, and colleagues are bound to benefit from.
You will really appreciate what you have and who you have, and you will leave feeling refreshed, invigorated, and ready for the next chapter in your life… x
So, after all of this, how can a retreat be bad for you??!!!... Here’s how;
A retreat is damaging to your health if;
You do not enjoy making new friends from all over the world
You don’t want to get to know yourself
You don’t want to acknowledge and appreciate how hard you work
You don’t care about your health and well-being
You want to build up your digital ‘addiction’
You will never eat anyone else’s cooking
You don’t want to relax, de-stress or enjoy living, and
…You have no intention of either changing or appreciating your home life
BUT… if you have enjoyed reading this article and think that a retreat may be for you, then check out more on the Retreats page.
BONUS: My Retreat in France is coming up in February 2016!
Book on now… because you deserve it!