Over the course of my lifetime I’ve periodically fallen into a funk where I wonder what the heck I’m doing with my life. At times I’ve felt unfulfilled, lost, or just plain bored. Sometimes I long for something other than what I have: another job, another house—even a different body!
This longing forces me out of autopilot and into being proactive about my next move. But before making that next move, retreating may be in order. I define retreating as breaking from your current daily life or routine to take care of yourself in some way.
Maybe you’ve also longed for something different but instead fill your voids with stuff or activity or substances. It’s easier to ignore your soul’s longing than to do the hard work of self-examination, right? How would you even begin to untangle that mess of Gordian complexity? You have a job, a family, possessions, responsibilities that all demand your attention. How, where, and what to make your escape?
I don’t have a magic bullet, but in weekly blogs I will provide resources for taking a break to recharge or reset your life’s path. For me, retreating has sometimes involved embarking on personal away time. I’ve gone on many retreats over the years, each with a different focus and duration. All of them gave me the physical and personal space to examine my life during that time period. These breaks (most of them only a weekend) resulted in changing the way I approached an issue or changing my outlook. They helped me build confidence, discover strengths, see things from another perspective, or simply just gave me a break from my “miserable” life.
Each of us has different abilities, desires, goals, and tastes. In other words, a retreat doesn’t necessarily involve living in a monastery eating gruel and meditating for twelve hours a day. Of course, if that’s your jam, then go for it! A retreat can be about the spiritual, the physical, or the emotional—and sometimes all three simultaneously. You can go to a place of quiet contemplation, take time off to travel, volunteer for a cause, or do a pilgrimage.
You may already know what type of break you want, or you may have no idea but know you need something. Are you contemplating a career change or a major change of residence? Are you grappling with partnership issues, a health-related situation, or other major life event? Maybe you want to fulfill a long-held dream, or study, or immerse yourself in a new language and culture. Or maybe you just need a break from the rodent Olympics.
Whether retreating is taking one day or much longer, the idea can feel daunting, undoable, or frightening. Going away costs money and time, not to mention emotional and physical currency, although you can create your own retreat without leaving home. The longer your getaway, the more you must prepare so that business or personal things are taken care of. Traveling abroad requires a whole other layer of preparation. My blog posts will examine all of these things.
Whatever you decide to do, your motivation for retreating should be clear. Retreating with a peaceful mind and well-defined purpose is essential for ensuring that your experience is a positive one.
Every one of my retreats changed me in some way, small or large, and all for the better. And they continue to have ripple effects in my life. One experience in particular, two years in Scotland, remapped my entire future in significant ways. You can read about it in my memoir.
I look forward to being your guide on this journey!