‘Retreat is not an absence; rather it is the search for a true presence’ – Georges Gusdorf
When we see images of linen-dressed yogis contorting into magnificent shapes in unison – the idea of visiting a retreat centre can be a little daunting. So too can some of the hyper-luxurious spaces (and their high prices!).
But really, a retreat centre experience can be natural and simple. A gift for yourself; and a deep act of self-care. Booking a stay can be less about the accommodation (but the cosier the better) and more about an authentic experience. After-all, the retreats with genuine values are the ones where you’re more likely to be yourself!
What we’re looking for is a place that feels easy.
A space where we’re supported; able to find healing, grounding – and a sense of ease that overflows back into our everyday lives. Here are some ways that an authentic retreat centre can feel good, simple and natural.
A change of scenery
Visiting a retreat centre, like Happy Buddha Retreats, makes a wonderful opportunity to pause and exit our daily lives.
Yes, this means some forward planning and allocating time… but it ultimately rewards us with an experience of objectivity that we can only get from stepping back.
You may notice that as you change scenery, your mind also shifts its tracks of daily routine. You’ll likely gain a clearer perspective, a sense of unwinding and even emotional release as you settle into a new space.
The best retreats tend to be situated in peaceful locations close to nature, an ideal backdrop to forge the hustles of life.
And what better way to take a break – than to have an adventure? You can make a day out of the travel, exploring the retreat centre and using the natural surrounds to unwind. After all, studies have linked our time in nature to a reduction in the production of cortisol (our stress hormone).
No need to plan!
Other than setting aside time and figuring out transportation… guess what? It’s all taken care of. One of the main benefits of retreat centre stays as opposed to regular holidays, is that they’re managed by lovely facilitators.
Let that sink in. You won’t have to stress about things like reservations, cooking, planning, commuting, finding locations, waiting in lines and so on. You’ll barely have to notice the time.
Now that’s a holiday. A good retreat allows for a sole focus on your well-being, truly offering you stress-free time.
A retreat centre will also offer you with time for yourself. Unlike most regular holidays, a well facilitated retreat can offer the kind of safe sanctuary required to allow a deeper withdrawal from the strains of everyday life.
The idea of dropping your routine could feel daunting – but an authentic retreat centre will ensure this feels not only seamless, but natural.
Through tailored schedules aimed around connection, you’ll be to find that spark of play, fun and peace. On a physical level, you’ll be receiving healthy and nourishing meals and yoga classes. You’ll be clearing your mind with meditation.
All of these practices will allow you to truly unplug; harmonising your mind and body – and getting your natural rhythms back on track.
Connection and like-minds
You may walk into a genuine retreat centre tentatively, only to have any nerves completely dissolved by a warm welcome. You’ll meet other guests and be introduced through organic group experiences together. Everyone there is in the same boat; open to healing, relaxing and connecting.
An authentic retreat will evoke a feeling of belonging, and the deep recognition that you’re not alone.
Plus, retreat centres naturally tend to attract people with similar interests. They create a special container to make memories with like-minded beings, and the perfect opportunity to make life-long friends.
A long-lasting shift
A holistic retreat centre tends to combine elements like yoga, healthy meals, meditation, and a calm environment – to invite retreaters into a naturally balanced way of life. It certainly doesn’t end with the retreat!
Afterwards, even the busiest of participants can keep their self-care tools and new awareness, to bring more empowerment into their lives. Here, there can be a wonderful process of learning how to factor in daily healthy practices – not as a selfish luxury – but rather a non-negotiable path to a balanced life.
If all of the above sounds inviting… we would absolutely love to have you. You can check out some of our retreat options here.
Nisha is a freelance writer and Vedic astrologer, based in the magical Byron Hinterlands. As well as running her candle business, her life and loves involve: yoga, gardening and all things esoteric. You’ll find her out in nature, or curled up at home with a good book. Happy Buddha is one of her most treasured places on earth (and indeed where she met her fiancé!).