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What is an Holistic Retreat?

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You see the description, Holistic Retreat, more and more these days. You know that the term holistic when applied to complementary therapies means that the whole person, mind, body and spirit, is targeted. But what exactly does this mean when it is describing a retreat?

As ever, there will be a million right answers to this question - or at least as many right answers as there are holistic retreats available, because each retreat is going to be slightly different from the others, enhanced by the experience and personalities of the people who run it.

Holistic Retreats, like any other kind of retreat, can be large or small, basic or exclusive, group oriented or targeted at individuals. The size and nature, and the background of any retreat will influence the experience.

What all holistic retreats will have in common is the knowledge that human beings cannot be seen as one dimensional. Any activities that people engage in will inevitably, impact on them on many levels. This is how we are, and accepting this can help immensely when providing suitable therapies, courses and workshop topics. This approach should also ensure that the environment of the place is one where people are encouraged and inspired to recognise and realise their own potential.

This brings us to the need for holistic retreats. At any such retreat the focus is going to be on helping you to regain a balance between all aspects of yourself. To do this you will be offered a selection of exercises and therapies that will help you release tension from your body. You will be offered relaxation techniques, and self discovery workshops to help you re-balance the mental and emotional aspects of yourself.

Of course both these alternatives will work to enable the other. A relaxed body more easily maintains inner balance between logic and heart, and a balanced mental emotional connection helps you release stress and the tension it creates physically. So a single course or topic can be holistic.

This takes us to the spiritual side - and I am not talking about religion! I mean that part of us that we all think of when we think of our potential, our dreams. That self that is influenced by and reflects our body, mind and emotions, but is something else, something more. An Holistic Retreat will offer you the opportunity to explore this side of yourself.

There are many ways to do this. Experientially through art, writing, meditation, yoga, reiki, and many other techniques of healing, balance or self actualization. There are dozens of subjects that help you focus on a particular aspect of your whole self, that will help you develop your recognition of, your interaction with, and the strength of your connection to your spirit or higher self. These will include any creative topics, any subjects that are about self worth, self acceptance, self love or personal growth.

In fact it is quite impossible to separate out what aspects of yourself that workshops, courses, therapies and counseling methods address - and that is the nature of working holistically. Each thing experienced effects us on all levels, and that at some point we come to realise this. So an Holistic Retreat is simply a place that offers a safe, comfortable and supportive place for you to take special time for reconnecting with yourself.

Finding the perfect retreat for you

The very essence of the holistic retreat, and whether it will work for you at this time, is how the prospect makes you feel. In our busy lives we so often listen only to our heads, I must do this, I have to hurry so I can attend to that. On a practical level this is important, however, if you listen only to your head, eventually your inner balance will be negatively effected.

So remember, if you are thinking of going on an holistic retreat, find a place where you really like the sound of the people and what they say about themselves. Their personalities and attitudes may deeply effect your experience.

Another important influence on the retreat experience will be the nature of the place itself. Here are a few questions you may find helpful to answer when looking for the perfect retreat:
  • Do you long for privacy and anonymity or would you like to have the chance to meet new people who share your interests?
  • Do you want the opportunity of working calmly at your own pace, or are you stimulated and informed by the challenge and discussion in group development?
  • If you enjoy being in a group, what is the optimum size for you in terms of comfort?
  • Would you choose to combine group work and privacy - perhaps study in a group, but have a private room?
  • How much personal space do you need right now?
  • Do you want to combine your retreat activities with other holiday pursuits like touring or dining out?
After you have read the web pages or leaflets from a holiday retreat, pause and ask yourself how you feel about the place. Does this retreat answer your needs and desires at this time - only you can decide! And finally, on a personal level, there are as many reasons for going on a retreat as there are people - over 6 billion last I looked. Here are a few that seem to be shared by many of my visitors:
  • Couples may choose a retreat when they are having challenges in their relationship, or just want to celebrate their time together.
  • Individuals might want rejuvenation, help in adjusting to major changes in their lives, or a chance for deep reflection.
  • Or anyone may simply wish to step out of time for a moment - to allow the world to spin without them for just a little while - to achieve a magical moment of inner stillness, calm and joy.


By Derby Stewart-Amsden
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