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Spiritual Retreats: The Keys to Find Yourself

A complete meditation and relaxation plan to fight stress and depression

a girl with the eyes closed in the middle of the nature
Spiritual Retreats: The Keys to Find Yourself | iSTOCK

A spiritual retreat can be faith-based, with the goal of meeting God, or meditational, to find yourself. In both cases, it is a complete plan to access a brand-new spiritual domain through isolation and abandonment of daily duties. Through that path, you can reduce anxiety and increase personal satisfaction.

There are professional retreats which include new diet plans, routines, exercise, relaxation and meditation techniques, and guided work with the aid of a spiritual guide. However, you can do it yourself. Find out what a spiritual retreat is, and how to go on one.

What is a spiritual retreat?

Your lifestyle determines your personal satisfaction and bliss level, and in order to fight the stress and depression that you're submitted to through the rushed pace of Western societies, there's nothing better than a spiritual retreat, which is precisely all about giving up your daily duties for a while.

You normally think about a spiritual retreat as going somewhere quiet to run away from big cities and a bustling daily pace. However, it goes deeper than that. A spiritual retreat is a space to find yourself through a complete plan of meditation techniques and introspective discipline.

That's why, aside from the isolation and search for a quiet place, when you go on a spiritual retreat you need to take on a brand-new life pace, which ranges all the way from diet and exercise, to a whole variety of meditation and relaxation techniques included within the now-fashionable trend of mindfulness (the awareness of being here and now).

That's why many experienced spiritual retreat tutors define it not as a retreat (which implies a passive meaning), but as a journey into your own inner self. But let's start from the top: what specific advantages can you get from a spiritual retreat?

10 reasons to go on a spiritual retreat

A retreat can be faith-based, with the goal of getting closer to God, or a more spiritual side, to find yourself. In both cases, the aim is to find transcendence to the physical and material world in a process with several advantages.

1. Find room to disconnect

One of the main motivations leading many people to go on a spiritual retreat is the chance to find an isolated, quiet area to run away from the bustle of big towns that submits us to rushing and anxiety. Thanks to that, we can connect with nature and find the peace and quiet that make it easier to relax and become introspective.

2. Find a new perspective to life

When you enter that physical and mental decompression process, you start to feel your priorities shifting. Material and physical goods become less important, and there's room for spiritual growth and the appreciation of what isn't necessarily there. What used to seem like a priority is now absolutely unimportant, and the other way round as well.

3. Fight stress

One of the great advantages of spiritual retreats is the decrease in stress and anxiety levels. Since we isolate ourselves from the worries of daily life, as the relaxation and meditation exercises start working their way, our soul becomes quieter, our spirit rises up and the mind breaks free. All in all, we evolve into a more balanced state.

4. Meet your inner world

Almost unnoticingly, that process leads you to know your inner self better. The soul's issues, which our daily duties stop from coming out into the spotlight, suddenly become clearer. Thanks to a spiritual retreat we can meet our virtues and flaws, traumas and needs.

5. Connect with other people

Besides, it's not just an isolation, self-absorption process. At a spiritual retreat, there's also space to connect with other people who are experiencing the same process and who have the same issues as you. Sharing your experience and transmitting knowledge is a way to open up and get real. 

6. Benefits of a spiritual guide

For many people just starting in the universe of meditation, contacting a spiritual guide is a key elevating moment to evolve in the process. To bring out the most from this experience, you need a master to guide you through activities and adapt each session to your needs.

7. Perfect the body

After having a different diet for a while, living more relaxedly, walking a more peaceful pathway with plenty of inner calmness, and performing meditation exercises that include physical activities like yoga, you'll start feeling the effects of the body's perfectioning. Breathing better and toning our muscles is just another step in the process.

8. Perfect the mind

The gradual disappearance of pathologies connected to stress and depression lead people to find mental balance. This advantage isn't just coming from the absence of sadness or anxiety, but from the blossoming of feelings like wellness, satisfaction, happiness and bliss as well. You'll feel more vital and optimistic.

9. Perfect the spirit

The ultimate goal of a spiritual retreat is for our spirit to take over our body and mind to create a united being, and wellness in all senses of the word. Our life will be filled with plenitude and we'll have more control over ourselves, and it'll be easier to satisfy our needs.

10. Be thankful and grow

All foul feelings such as hatred, resentment, competitivity, selfishness, evil and trickery will slowly fade away, and they'll make room for kindness, generosity, wisdom, cooperation, forgiveness and empathy. Spiritual retreats can be a way to be thankful and grow, to give to receive, and to be quiet to listen.

A beginner's guide: how to go on a spiritual retreat

There are organised spiritual retreats that allow you to follow a conventional practice at these sorts of isolated events, with the help of guides and masters. If you can't get there, you can go on your very own retreat following some tips.

1. Find the perfect place

A spiritual retreat is a journey, both inside and outside, in a more literal sense. The first thing to do is find a place that promotes isolation to find your inner world. There's some things that are essential: a natural environment with plenty of quietness, fresh air and a strong connection with nature.

The perfect places for a spiritual retreat are a mountain (because the sights and empty areas offer us a new dimension of ourselves) or the beach, because the sea helps us relax with its background sounds. A sunset is perfect for meditation.

2. Disconnect from daily life

Once you've found a place to connect with yourself, you need to get rid of everything that ties you to daily duties. During your spiritual retreat, you can't access any electronic devices, let alone your phone. Disconnecting means breaking free, and it's an essential first step.

That's why, when you start on a spiritual retreat, it's useful to tell your closest relatives and friends. Their support and especially their respect towards our isolation is a source of motivation to successfully complete the process.

3. Carry along some spiritual scriptures

Days at a spiritual retreat can become really long, especially at the beginning. There's time for everything, and for reading as well. Reading is just another way to learn and grow, so you should carry along a spiritual book that reflects on the things you'll be putting into practice.

Today, there's plenty of interesting books about people sharing their experience in the path of the soul, or self-help books that can help you know yourself better. That's real useful when you don't have the support of a spiritual guide.

4. Change your diet

One of the essential areas of the full plan of a spiritual retreat is changing your metabolism. In order to promote spiritual growth, it is recommended that you eat less and make a more careful selection of ingredients. Besides, self-commitment needs to come from respecting your environment, and that's why a vegetarian diet is encouraged.

During a spiritual retreat, you'll learn to use the energy coming from inside you, which helps you to give up on food as your main source of energy.

5. Exercise

Quietness doesn't clash with movement at all. Helping your spirit grow demands that you activate your body, which in this case will occur thanks to meditation and relaxation exercises, and increasingly popular practices such as yoga.

There's several types of yoga, and each offers specific benefits. But under a general scope, it offers you flexibility, resistence and endurance that eventually bring a better sense of balance between all your areas. Long story short: one perfect unity. 

6. Get into meditation

That's the hardest part for people starting to practice their spiritual retreat skills, but it's the most important as well. If it's already hard when done guided by a professional mentor, doing it on your own can be a true challenge. You need to be patient to avoid becoming frustrated.

The most important thing is not to be too ambitious. Start simple, like exploring inside you or contacting your environment through easy-to-read meditation guides. Soon, you'll learn how to control your mind and free your spirituality.

7. Follow a disciplined routine

The important thing for a spiritual retreat to do what it should is to take a personal committed stance. If your goal is clear and you have the willpower and energy you need, it's time to leave plenty of things behind and start on a new, exciting pathway. Keep in mind the importance of giving up.

Giving up is also sacrifice. Especially on the first few days, it's important that you're strongly disciplined to settle the new routines in. The better you get used to that lifestyle, the easier you'll progress through everything else.

8. Write a personal journal

At a spiritual retreat, especially if you're on your own, there's satisfying moments and frustrating, discouraging times. Not everything can go the way you planned it, but you need  to take the good and the bad.

A good strategy to internalise your daily experience, to use your positive learning and extract lessons from mistakes, is to write a personal journal. As days go by, you'll realise it's a great tool to know yourself.

9. Share your experience

Internalising your experience can't be limited to individually processing it; you need to bring it outside too! When you share your experience with others from a humble, honest point of view, you become more aware of it, and it helps to project everything into reality.

After several days of isolation and inner work, it's okay to have everything feel surreal and abstract, in need of a new true dimension through getting in touch with others.

10. Consider a professional retreat

When you've taken on the routines and essential principles of a spiritual retreat, you'll be ready for the next step. A professional spiritual retreat will help you perfect everything you've been working on, and to complete with even more success this exciting, yet long and hard self-awareness path.