The Art of Retreating: How to Evolve Your Highest Self
Despite the wonderful work of all the truly talented nature writers (Check out articles on nature writers at the bottom of this post), the experience of being immersed in the natural world is still beyond words. I’m sitting on the bank of the river watching the play of afternoon light on moving water. This moment, hearing the sounds of water flowing, the summer breeze and a kingfisher streaking upriver—all move me—beyond words.
Why Retreat? I doubt there has ever been a time when integrating the ancient art of retreating into your life has been as vital as it is right now. We live with so many demands on our time—endless distraction, activity and noise—that feeling connected with our Best Self or on our True Path can seem virtually impossible. Like any relationship, the one we have with ourselves needs to be cultivated, honored and experienced! Instead, most of us feel only a vague sense of having lost our way.
What we find on retreat is that we’re on a journey that is rich and endlessly fascinating.
Why Not Retreat? It takes courage to make such a commitment to yourself! Even for me, although I’ve been retreating for a lifetime, a niggling resistance to moving out of my comfort zone can still come up. Of course, by now I have had so many incredible experiences on retreat and have gained so much, I hardly have to think about it—I just need to breathe into it.
As Rue Mapp said in a recent article about visiting the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, “Stripping away the noise of our daily lives, we have to face ourselves and set aside our egos.” Yes, that is challenging. It is a risk. And, I accept that risk because I’ve always walked away from my retreats with a strengthened connection to my best & highest self. Sure, there are challenges that come up but I have learned to trust my process, completely—because I know it will once again reveal what I need to know in the moment.
Who should retreat? Anyone can retreat and gain great personal benefits. You should retreat if you feel an ongoing disconnect and angst in your life. You already possess every answer you’re looking for. An environment that allows those answers to reach you is exactly the purpose of going on a retreat. Re-treat your Self. You’re worth it!
Who shouldn’t retreat? Don’t retreat if you have any major mental health issues such as clinical depression, suicidal thoughts or substance abuse. Get help and you’ll find out when you can begin using the art of retreating to help you reclaim your life.
If you’re struggling with a physical health issue, retreating may be a way to process your feelings, gain strength and find your best path going forward. Just make sure you have the physical and emotional support you need during your retreat.
How do I retreat? I strongly recommend you choose a beautiful, peaceful nature place that inspires you. If you’ve never retreated before, you may want to find a ways to ease into it—to gain some experience and guidance, such as shorter retreats. Sometimes it works for our guests to bring a friend or family member, so you can support each other. At JCRC, we offer you retreat coaching and facilitation, customized to your needs, whether you’re a beginner or you simply wish to deepen your experience.
How long should I Retreat? Retreating is a lifelong practice and can take many forms. You may need to work yourself up to solo retreats for longer periods of time, which in my experience, are the most fruitful and amazing! Don’t kid yourself . . . it takes some space and time to reconnect with your Self. You may even need to become acquainted!
When you attempt to do a weekend retreat, it often turns out to be a time to catch up on your sleep and that’s okay. Your body is telling you it needs the rests. However, I encourage you to consider giving yourself the gift of a longer retreat at least once a year, if possible.
I know that can seem like a tall order . . . there’s a powerful resistance that comes up when we think about moving out of our comfort zone—even if that zone is really uncomfortable and does not serve us. Most of us know what it feels like to be constantly plugged-in to our culture. Countless articles appear repeatedly pointing out the hazards— to our health and well-being—of living in the “machine.”
In the end, a strong commitment to your best Self will be necessary. At JCRC, we encourage longer retreats by providing deeply discounted rates/night for stays of a week or longer. Do your Self the favor of spending some quality time together . . .
We provide the Eagle’s Nest, a lovely space nestled in a dramatic canyon in the mountains of northeastern Nevada—free from the distractions of everyday life. Add in the incredible nature that surrounds us, the river and the stars at night and you are off to an amazing time with your Self!
We can help you create your special retreat experience. Call us at 800/324-7040 or email me.
Beverly deGero is a photographer, writer & clay artist specializing in nature subjects. Her work is an expression of the connection between nature and spirituality. She often signs her work with her Native American name: WolfWoman or simply WW.
She has lived more than 21 years in a remote high mountain canyon in Nevada with her electricity provided by the sun and wind. There she is building the Jarbidge Canyon Retreat Center: An Earth & Art Institute. Bev has been retreating as a lifelong psycho-spiritual practice and enjoys introducing & coaching others in the process and its profound benefits. She also integrates her passion for reintroducing others to their creativity and the many ways it can be fostered to inspire, heal and resolve issues or conflicts. (Photo at top by Cathi Comish)
by Lorraine Anderson
by Jim Hinch, LA Review of Books
by Scott London