A good retreat is better than a bad stand” ~Irish proverb
As I was preparing to leave for my Yoga Retreat at Aldermarsh in the Pacific Northwest, my 8-year-old daughter asked “What does retreat mean?” Admittedly, I wasn’t exactly sure how to reply. The answer on the top of my head was “it means Mommy gets to go away to a place where no there are no kids and nobody she needs to take care of but herself – it is awesome!” Luckily, my 10-year old son chimed in first. “It means to turn back in a battle…strange that they call it that!”
In a sense, going on a retreat does seem like running away from the battles in your life, from your routine, from the noise, even, from other people. But rather than turning or moving away, it is also, for me, a movement inward – towards something. And, sometimes, this can only happen in a physical place where you can allow yourself to be utterly still – in a place where you can receive, connect, reflect, and be nurtured. On Retreat, we fortify ourselves for the clashing of self and other, ego and soul. We don our armor & shields, practice our skills, hone our tools and choose our weapons. Upon return, we are stronger, sharper, and more focused, but also, protected.
Now, with the nurturing Earth of Aldermarsh miles behind and the energy of the Great Wolf Tree fading, I will focus on what I am fighting for – what is my intention. I will continue to practice my tools, hone my weapons and, carefully, select my shields. I will also lead myself, and my students, into retreat routinely – even if it is just to the mat.
If you are in need of a retreat, please see part II, Restorative Retreat, for a mini-restorative series to make you battle-ready.