If retreat is not giving up or backing down … what is it?

The word ‘retreat’ when used in the context of war or battle is associated with backing down, giving up.  But, in the context of our modern lives, retreat has become recognised as a near necessity to help us manage the pressures and complexity of our lives.

As the creators of our lives, just like an artist, from time to time it’s important to step back from the canvas and take a look at the whole picture.

Perspective is a wonderful thing.  An opportunity to make those little adjustments, the fine tuning, that makes all the difference.  To continue with the artist metaphor, a touch of red here, a little more definition there, to bring the whole picture to life.

Perhaps another useful metaphor is to stop and have a look at the map.  You may know where you’re going, but are you taking the most efficient route?  Or maybe you’d like to navigate a more scenic route to enjoy the journey.  These decisions are yours to make.  Stopping to get some perspective can really help.  Taking time away from your ordinary life will give you an opportunity to reflect on how you’re going.

Another good reason for retreat is simply to replenish; to recharge your batteries, fill up your tank, nourish yourself.  A retreat with practices such as yoga movement, breath work (pranayama) and meditation will enhance the re-set benefits. These practices turn your attention inwards to promote self-awareness and self-care.  They are designed to restore balance.  There is a natural righting system within all of us that yoga works with.  Immersion in these practices allows it to ‘kick in’.

Surround yourself with like-minded people, away from the usual distractions.  Have a look at your habits of being (samskaras) with a clear intention set to simply be kind and gentle with yourself.

A retreat is not running away, giving up or backing down. It is a chance to come home, to return to balance so that we can continue our journey through life, refreshed and clear.