Can you imagine being in a bubble, one where you float above your reality, you are totally safe and you can think about anything and feel totally safe in the process, a bit like a baby being held in a loving grandmother’s arms. That is how a retreat should feel, it does not matter the theme or the location but what does matter is the space that is held and how it feels.
Last year I was in LA, it was my first trip to the states and I ran a day retreat training, I talked a lot about holding space and the magical transformations that can happen when you step from your ordinary to the extraordinary – it doesn’t matter if the retreat is themed around business, craft, spiritual or personal development – if the space is held well then people will, in turn, connect to themselves and each other.
During this day training one of the women suddenly had a light bulb go off in her head and she talked how she had always resisted running a retreat and she realised that this was because the ones that she had been on space had not been held and that she had not come away feeling better, nor had she learnt anything from what was being taught. The complete opposite of how a retreat should be.
Think about how a retreat makes you feel begins at that very first interaction – whether it be a flyer, a conversation, checking out a webpage or seeing something on social media – what does it portray to you? Does it draw you in or do you lose interest quickly? When I look at a website about a retreat to attend or speak to someone I want to feel that they are transparent, that what they are offering is clear and it aligns with my values. When you are looking at one you should do the same, think about:
1. Are you intrigued and want to look further?
2. Is there a visible price and inclusions that you feel like you are getting value for money
3. Do you feel like you will fulfill a need for you by going?
So now you have looked at the retreat, you’ve felt good about what is being offered, spoken to the organizer who you may or may not know (if you don’t check out their testimonials) and decided to go, what should you expect to feel during the next part of the process? I would want you to feel like it is easy, that they want you there and that you are getting any questions answered along the way – no matter how big or small they are. Just a little tip to put in here – what are their registration and legal paperwork like and their cancellation policy.
Now it is time, you are there and immersed in the experience – this is when you should feel like you are in that bubble, space is safe and you are allowed to explore the theme of the retreat and what it is offering. I have been on many retreats, both my own and those run by others and for me, the most memorable was the one that changed my life.
While I was a cofacilitator it was not my retreat, it was in an unfamiliar country (Mexico) and the theme was about clean eating and using essential oils as part of that process. My role was some of the logistics, so I got to go along for the ride and what a ride it was. It was like this because of the space that was held, and what Michelle (Michelle Premura – Turquoise Barn, Bloomville, NYS) gave us to discover deep spirituality through a connection to the earth, each other and the ancient ancestors and it was incredible it opened up a part of me that I did not know existed, it drew me to crave a different level of what I knew and how I saw the world. I came home truly changed and the bond between the group of women is strong even after 18 months apart.
This is the feeling a retreat should give, and while they are not, all the same, you should feel valued, safe, enlightened, informed, and most of all encouraged to be who you truly are. A retreat that does this and you come home feeling different and like you have grown is the perfect way to feel.