Retreating for Women: An Art & Practice
Photo by Simon Williams
I’ve walked outside this October evening so I can marvel at a starry sky like few ever see. The Milky Way (80% of American children may never see this!) arcs from north to south, like an immense rainbow made of glimmering light (Check out links below for articles on reclaiming the night sky). This moment, listening to the songs of river and crickets—moves me—beyond words.
An Art & Practice: As with anything in life that is worth doing, developing a “beginner’s mind” is a great place to start. (Beginner’s Mind is a concept in Zen Buddhism: It refers to having an attitude of openness, eagerness, and lack of preconceptions when studying a subject, just as a beginner in that subject would.) This helps you to pique your curiosity and engage your courage so you can explore new territory without criticizing yourself. In the case of retreating, the new territory you’ll be discovering will be your inner landscape: a unique Wilderness Wilderness that holds the keys to all your treasures. Remember, everything in your life flows from your relationship with yourself!
Solitude: You may be someone who feels anxiety at the notion of being alone . . . unfortunately, retreating has become a “lost art” as we live in a culture driven by busyness, distraction and stress. Even those experienced in the Art of Retreating will often feel some resistance. (This is a good sign. Your mind is using resistance to bring something important to your attention.) Don’t worry—embrace the discomfort and encourage your beginner self. Ask for support from a close friend or a retreat guide who will help you work with discomfort, so you can break through to your true self. You know her—she’s the one who hungers for some time alone to think, to reclaim the parts of herself she has had to abandon, to heal the parts of herself that are ill, to grieve her losses so she can begin creating the life she craves. “She” is who you are—you just need to remember her. When you give yourself the time to feel it, you will discover your inner seeker again—like when you were a child.
“If you are to be creative, you need time to listen to your inner self instead of someone or something else.”
—Arthur Winter M.D. and Ruth Winter
Creativity: You may be someone who says, “I don’t have a creative bone in my body!” every time the subject comes up. You needn’t feel alone on that score, the world is full of women who have lost that part of themselves in our overly intellectual culture. But consider this: half our brains are wired for creativity. Maybe you just haven’t been expressing that part of yourself because you think it doesn’t exist. There are many ways to re-engage with your creativity. At JCRC we can help you get started! We offer coaching and experiential opportunities to reconnect with your creativity, customized for you.
We can help you create your special retreat experience. Call us at 800/324-7040 or email us.
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 22 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 and 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.
International Dark Sky Association
New York Times