WHY WE RETREAT: TRAVELING OUT OF THE BOX AND BACK TO THE HEART
We have all seen ads on social media, in our email inbox, on glossy magazine pages, and maybe even on television for exotic getaway yoga and meditation retreats. With the current popularity of yoga there seems to be a retreat that appeals to every lifestyle, school of yoga, and travel enthusiast. So how do people choose the retreat that is right for them? Why are people interested in leaving their everyday routine to shell out hard earned money, travel to a new place, and roll out their yoga mats or zafus? Is it all about the “it” yoga teacher, the slickest pants, or the magical locale? Or is it, possibly, putting all current yoga industry packaging aside, just maybe, a time for us to turn into ourselves, with the guidance of knowledgeable instructors to cultivate our practice from the inside out?
Retreat in our common understanding of the word can be interpreted to mean a pulling back, a surrender, or an act of giving up. In my experience, when I place myself in a new or unknown environment surrounded by nature, I have a unique opportunity to reconnect with the conscious calm within myself. So for me ‘taking retreat’ has never been about leaving the action, instead it has been about refining my awareness of my actions in the world, so that when I return to my family, my career, and my day-to-day life, I can do so with a renewed sense of purpose, wisdom, and grace.
I attended my first meditation retreat in my second year of college. An old girlfriend from Santa Fe and I packed up a few clothes and headed into Northern New Mexico for a 10-day silent Vipassana retreat with a focus on Metta, Loving Kindness.
Our daily routine was simple. No pen, paper, or books. Morning meditation followed by breakfast, service work, more meditation, light yoga, lunch, walking meditation in the Sangre de Christo mountains, more meditation, etc. The first few days were a difficult adjustment. I frequently wanted to leave or allow myself to sleep. But with practice came more and more joy and freedom in the experience. I suddenly felt a wave of gratitude that at 20 I had an opportunity to invest time and attention to the practice of sitting mindfully and developing loving kindness for all beings. Although this retreat was not in a foreign location, I felt as though I had traveled the world in those 10 days. The retreat was a true adventure that spanned broad expanses of my physical, emotional, and mental cartography.
Since then I have continued to attend yoga and meditation retreats. I find again and again that by placing myself in a structured, but natural environ, I have a rare opportunity to do deep, meaningful self-work while simultaneously sharing new places and experiences with new friends.
Many of you may be familiar with the Sympathetic and Parasympathetic Nervous System. In more common terms, this is how we cope with stress. When we are triggered in the sympathetic realm, we have a tendency to freeze, take off, or fight our way through the issue. For most of us, this is our default. When we engage the parasympathetic nervous system we tend to do things like explore, rest, digest situations, and most importantly, relax. In our day to day hustle and bustle it is easy to forget how important it is to schedule time to retreat, reflect, and renew. One scientifically proven way to do this is through yoga and meditation practice. The other is through a consistent and participatory experience in nature. The New York Times ran an article last spring entitled, “How Walking in Nature Changes the Brain,” that discusses the benefits of connecting with the natural world in our daily lives. Looking back even further, the Japanese have a tradition called Shinrin-yoku which means “forest-bathing.” A short, leisurely visit to the forest in this tradition is a gateway to stress reduction.
Whether you are considering an afternoon retreat at home in the yard without technology, a weeklong backpacking yoga adventure, or a cultured meditation retreat in Greece, feel confident in the benefits this type of experience has to offer you. The positive impact that being in a new, natural environment while practicing yoga and meditation affords us is a well deserved experience of health and well-being.
Are you looking for an enchanting yoga retreat this summer? If so, we are offering a five-day and four-night retreat on the banks of the Rio Grande river in Northern New Mexico this June. Journey inside yourself and outside in nature as a process of reconnecting your waking, dreaming, and being selves. We will enjoy morning meditation, invigorating asana twice daily, massage, and excursions to nearby Taos, wildflower hikes, and the healing mineral hot springs at Ojo Caliente.
The retreat is suitable for beginners through the seasoned practitioner.
All vegetarian meals, activities, and lodging at a secluded apple farm are included in the cost.
What are you waiting for? Explore another gem of the southwest while polishing the gemstone of your inner self.