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New World Library Unshelved

New World Library Unshelved

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Thursday, October 31, 2013
5 Reasons I Take Retreats by guest blogger Renée Trudeau
 

Are you listening to your life? What is it trying to tell you?

Stephen Cope, MSW, author and director of Kripalu’s Institute for Extraordinary Living says retreats don’t change our lives as much as they change where we stand in relationship to our lives — and our capacity to see the hidden possibilities there.

I grew up watching my parents go on meditation and spiritual retreats beginning in the early 1970s. I wasn’t really sure what happened for my parents during these respites, but I do remember how peaceful, grounded, and loving they were when they returned.

Now retreats — whether it’s a Saturday at a nearby greenbelt or a weekend or weeklong experience out-of-state — have become essential to how I run my life. I think retreats are one of the best investments I can make in myself, my business, and my family; I consider them as necessary to balanced living as oxygen.

I take retreats to help me:
•    Navigate career/life transitions: By gathering with others in a supportive, validating environment, I’m reminded that I’m not alone and everyone goes through periods in life when they feel lost or uncertain and have trouble finding their way back home. Hearing from others who are navigating similar waters can make all the difference in how you experience the journey.
•    Gain a shift in perspective: Intentional time away provides me with the “30,000-foot view” and reminds me that, as Wayne Dyer said, “When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.”
•    Fill my well: Navigating modern life and living in a 24-7 culture that rarely “unplugs” means we need to find ways to recalibrate our bodies, minds, and spirits and return to our natural rhythms. Retreats offer the chance to experience deep, to-the-bones replenishment, rest, and renewal.
•    Hear what I most need to hear: What I learn at retreats helps me gain clarity and focus around how and where to direct my energy, time, and talents in the coming months or year. I believe we all inherently know what is best for us, but we rarely slow down or get quiet enough to hear this inner wisdom. Often it comes right to the surface when we’re on a retreat.
•    Learn to receive: Giving myself permission to drop my personae and receive support from like-minded people who see the highest and best in me is freeing and exhilarating. It reminds me of who I really am. We’re all one another’s teachers; often the biggest “pearls” from a retreat experience come from other retreat participants who are sitting just a few feet away.

Lately, as I examine various opportunities coming my way, I often ask myself, “What is uniquely mine to do?” I try to take a one-day personal planning retreat every 90 days so I can really sit with this question. Usually once or sometimes twice a year, I also take a guided retreat and allow myself to be held in a healing space by others who are figuring out all the logistics!

Here’s a peek at some of the 2013–2014 self-renewal retreats I have coming up. Yes, retreats can get pricey, but they’re usually worth it. Others can be very inexpensive or even free: find a facilitator, gather 5 friends, and borrow a relative’s cabin for the weekend! You can also ask a yoga or qi gong teacher, professional coach, therapist, or even your minister for suggestions for retreat venues and leaders they love. Retreats are also a beautiful gift to give yourself on a milestone birthday; I’m already planning one for my 50th.

I feel honored and privileged to have been able to create and facilitate retreats for others for the past 20 years, but even if I didn’t do this as part of my work, I would still be devoted to taking retreats, and I believe it’s a commitment I’ll be honoring for the next 40 years of my life.

RENÉE PETERSON TRUDEAU is the author of the new book Nurturing the Soul of Your Family, a sought-after life balance coach/speaker, and the president of Career Strategists. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, Good Housekeeping, and numerous other media outlets.


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