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The Real Meaning – and Magic – of ‘Retreating’

“Finding a sanctuary, a place apart from time, is not so different from finding a faith.” Pico Iyer

It is amazing what a difference five days, ten yin & meditation sessions and twenty hours of walking can make…
Knowing what a beneficial affect peace, reflection and some stillness can have on health – especially mine – last month I went on a retreat to ancient Assisi (of St Francis fame!), an Umbrian town that holds a special place in my heart. As always, I came away feeling uplifted spiritually, mentally and physically.

As someone who leads two or three retreats a year, clients frequently ask me about what’s, where’s, when’s and why’s of investing in one.
What can be gained? Or maybe relinquished?


How to Choose the Best Wellness Retreat for You

The most important first step is to get clear on the intention behind your decision.

– Maybe you want to detox or learn what nutrition diet best suits you?
– Perhaps you are wanting immerse yourself into once, twice or thrice daily yoga for an intense period?
– You could be looking to combine activities and interests – yoga with walking or surfing, painting or writing.
– Or you’re feeling like venturing out of your comfort zone and trying some as weird as it is wonderful!

Anything and everything is on the menu these days. Trust me, I’ve nearly completed the spectrum!


These are 5 of my personal favourites (where I have either attended, or hosted, or both):

  1. Tilton House, Sussex, UK
  2. One World, Ubud, Bali
  3. Eeremito, Italy (above) 
  4. Mandali (where I am co-hosting The Spirited Retreat 5 days this coming August)
  5. 42 Acres, Somerset, UK (below)


The Experience of Solitude and Space

When contemplating whether a retreat is for you, it might be helpful to remember that by definition, to retreat is an “act of withdrawing”.
Check that the wellness retreat you are considering offers a balance of activity as well as time and space for you to enjoy solitude and quiet because very often stopping is the one of the greatest challenges in our busy lives. Yet, it is in these moments that our imagination are rebooted, perspectives reviewed and habits tweaked.


3 Questions to Help You Choose the Right Wellness Retreat

When thinking about a retreat, it might help to ask yourself these three questions…

  1. Will this retreat offer me space and time just to be?
  2. Will this retreat remind me of who I am and what I love?
  3. Will this retreat help me feel healthier in body, mind and spirit?

My recent retreat in Assisi answered those questions for me. It was a truly enriching experience, reminding me of the small changes I need to make to my life to live more wholeheartedly and regain greater balance.

Most of all, it re-established the habit of retreating in little ways on a daily basis. It doesn’t have to be a week on a hilltop!

It may only be for 10 minutes a day. But with commitment and a clear intention, those quiet moments offer us the opportunity to hear the whisperings of our soul above the noise of our mind.

However, whenever, wherever and whatever form you choose, I really hope you enjoy the journey within.

In the mean time I’ll leave you with wise and revered travel writer, Pico Iyer, who makes his own eloquent case for retreating.



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