Inner Reflections
June 20, 2022

The Power Of Retreat

People have stepped away from the rhythm and pace of daily life for as far back as we can trace human history. Times of retreat often marked moments of personal transition, growth, transformation, evolution and discovery. Historically humans have celebrated the transition from adolescence to adulthood with such journeys but we have slowly lost our connection to the importance of such rituals and initiations. When we fail to acknowledge and celebrate critical moments in our lives, we miss out on the important support structure community can bring. When we fail to pause and step away from the usual pace of life, we miss out on the important insights a period of self-reflection can bring.

Travis and I have been blessed to work with a diverse number of populations over the years but I was most moved by the recognition of what happens when our military personnel leave the service and do not have a formal rite of passage to move through, a re-initiation back into civilian life and a period of integration – a welcoming home to the community. When we fail to retreat, pause and acknowledge together, a piece of us is lost.

And the truth is, while I would never compare our collective experience to that of someone who has fought in a war, we have all been through a period of trauma, change and uprooting these past two years. We are all in need of connection, community and a period of retreat. It is time for us to come together and welcome each other home.

Retreat literally means, “a place of privacy or safety,” a “period of group withdrawal for meditation or study.” Research studies have demonstrated that going on retreat can result in positive changes in metabolic and neurological pathways, reduction in health symptoms and improvements in quality of life. There is even new evidence that suggests retreats can lead to positive impacts on the experience of chronic diseases and provide benefits to people who live with these conditions. And these changes can lead to sustained and significant health improvements long after participants return home.

Yes, a retreat is a fun way to take a vacation but based on these clinical findings, it is so much more than a typical trip away from home. During retreat you are immersed in nature, the IDM community, and daily practice. Each day begins with a 2-hour practice which includes an opening talk led by myself or Travis. The middle of the day is spent caring for yourself. This might include a quiet walk in the forest, time spent journaling as you answer the prompts in the workbook we provide, connecting with new friends and community members or even a time at the spa tending to your physical and mental well-being. The later part of the afternoon emerges you into a 3-hour practice of yin yoga, gentle or restorative yoga and meditation. By consciously choosing to step away from your daily to-do’s you are taking subversive action, you are going against the programming which says “keep going, don’t stop, more is better, rest is for the weak.” As Saint Paul said, “it is when I am weak that I am strong.” As a retreat leader I am not sure I have ever seen anything stronger or more courageous than a very busy person choosing to come on retreat. Nor have I ever witnessed anything more transformational.

So join us this October 30th – November 3rd in Yosemite National Park at the beautiful Tenaya Lodge for a period of retreat. This is our first official IDM TV retreat and we are so excited to bring our community together in-person at last. Space is limited and the retreat is already more than half full so if you’re feeling called, I hope you’ll accept this invitation and join us for a life changing experience this fall.

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By Lauren