Escape. Yearning. Desire. Learning. Connection. Growth. All are words that describe why many of us take time off from work, pay hundreds of dollars, and take planes, trains, and automobiles to get to a retreat.
Of course the other reasons could include a hall pass from the spouse for a long weekend, a jail break from cubicledom, and just a flat out need to zone out and let the rest of the world pass you by for a few days.
Regardless of the reasons you and I attend retreats, at the core, I believe, is a burning desire for a change of pace and some time off to feed our soul. In fact, I’m starving to feed my soul, so I’m going to make it happen by attending two purpose-filled retreats in the next month. Call me a retreat junkie if you like, I’ll take no offense.
As I’m preparing for these retreats, as a participant and workshop leader, I keep referring to my Feed My Soul and Purpose list to ensure I make the most of my 8 days of deep soul diving at these two luscious experiences – Braveheart Men’s Retreat and Camp Good Life Project. As I was reviewing my list, I thought, why not share the list with some other good men to see if it inspires you, the next time you attend a retreat.
10 Ways To Feed Your Soul and Purpose
- Go it alone. I personally like to go to retreats alone, or at least try to distance myself from friends or family that are attending, so that I open my self up to new experiences and vulnerabilities. If you are traveling with friends or family, let them know you’d like to be with them at certain times of the retreat and at other times you’d like to be as if you were total strangers.
- Be open. This is almost a no-brainer, and probably the purpose most of us attend retreats, is to be open to new experiences. However, I like to check-in with myself several times throughout the day and ask, “Am I being open or closed off?” You just might be surprised at your answer.
- Avoid the “What do you do?” question. We humans are such creatures of habit, and often when meeting new people ask, “What do you do?” It’s the natural conversation starter. Instead try asking, “What’s got you lit up?” or “What are you doing different at this retreat than you would at home?” Interesting questions lead to interesting conversations.
- Don’t have all the answers. Admit it. Most of us have something to contribute in group settings. Even if you do, a retreat might be the perfect time for practicing…others first!
- Take a beat. Similar to not having all the answers, is taking a beat or breath before responding in conversations with people. You’ll hear more and speak more of your truth if you give it three beats between their words and your response. Beat, beat, beat, and respond.
- Stay curious. Even if you have the entire agenda planned out for your retreat experience, invite curiosity to be your bunkmate for the duration of the retreat. In fact, I like to start the curiosity adventure the moment I walk out of my house. You never know what you might discover if you stay curious.
- Take a stroll into vulnerability. Again, most retreats we attend lead us to be vulnerable in some fashion. To what degree we allow vulnerability to guide us is a very personal decision. However, here’s a trick I’ve used to help me take it one step further. I rate, on a 1- 10 scale, how vulnerable I want to be at the retreat before I go. Once there, I challenge my self to up the rating by two points. I’m always glad I did.
- Get comfortable in the discomfort. If you’re going to a retreat to grow, then you might as well be ready for the discomfort. Whether it’s the sleeping arrangements, meeting strangers, or the menu selections, each step of a retreat is an opportunity to push you out of your comfort zone. Embrace it and love on it and see how differently you show up then and when you get back home.
- Go as if there are no strangers. I see every retreat as a beautiful playground of friends I just haven’t met yet! This is especially powerful for you wallflowers out there who dread the stranger danger feelings you’re already having just reading this article about going to retreats. Just keep repeating, “There are no strangers, only friends!”
- Hour of power. As best as I can, I try to check-in with myself at the top of each hour at retreats and ask these two questions…
What did I learn that is enriching my life?
How can I be of service to someone else?
This may sound to rigid or a bit much for you, so just adapt it however it feels right for you.
The goal, at least for me, is to not only invest time, money, and effort to be at a retreat, but to also open myself to receive and grow, while simultaneously giving and being of service to others while in attendance as well. How about you? What will your next retreat adventure now look like for you?
Image by Flickr/klndonnelly