This year I decided that instead of going to an all inclusive resort where I could bask in the sun and enjoy endless fruity cocktails, I wanted something more. I wanted a deeper spiritual experience. I knew a typical vacation wouldn’t satisfy this intense desire I had to nourish my soul, and let’s face it, an all inclusive trip is almost sure to be hard on the body, and I knew I had some healing to do.
For 10 days I was in beautiful Hilo, Hawaii with Aloha Healing Women on a retreat facilitated by the lovely founder, Keala Vai Noel. I really didn’t know what to expect but from past experience, I knew that having high expectations (or any expectations at all) could potentially leave me feeling disappointed and unsatisfied. I had heard about this retreat from a close friend of mine who said she always wanted to go, so I decided to do my own research — something I would highly recommend before embarking into any unknown territory — and take the plunge.
Here are some very practical reasons to make the commitment to yourself, mind, body, and soul.
1. You Can Do It All By Yourself
We all wish to be those adventurous types, travelling to Thailand alone or backpacking through Europe, but some of us are just not equipped for that kind of independence — yet. By going on a retreat, you are guaranteed a safe environment and great accommodations and amenities. Even better, you will be accompanied by like-minded people, potentially making friends that will last you a lifetime.
2. By Experiencing New Things, You Change!
When you are put into an unfamiliar environment, you are given the opportunity for a new perspective. When I was telling my two new roomies my typical mother woes (the endless questions, the nagging, the over-worrying, etc.) I knew it was falling onto deaf ears once I learned they were there for grief. One woman had lost her daughter in a tragic car crash a year ago, and the other had lost her mother to cancer 3 years prior. I told them they were going to teach me a lot about appreciating my mother more, so I never complained about her again the rest of the trip. This realization helped put my feelings into perspective and helped me appreciate what life has given me. I could have worse things than a mother who worries about me, or who cares enough to remind me about important things.
3. You Can Learn Something New
Aside from what my fellow roomies were offering me, I also learned a lot from my teacher. Each morning started out with us discussing our dreams and then interpreting them. From there, we enjoyed either a massage, reiki session, or hypnotherapy session. This gave me a lot of personal insight, which is what I was there for, and I really saw the value in working on myself every day through things like hypnotherapy sessions and guided visualizations.
4. You Can Never Have Too Many Friends!
It can be a little intimidating to meet new people, especially when you might be going to a retreat for healing or grief, but the fact that there are other people around you with similar fears can really serve you. Having your own time is fantastic and necessary, but secluding yourself from society may be limiting your potential to see things differently, leaving you feeling ‘stuck.’ I was very happy to be with two other women who were looking for a change in their lives as well, and I was surprised to see how eager I was to help them. It felt really great to talk freely about my feelings with sympathetic strangers.
5. Experience Real ‘Me Time’
Every day we did something new that was often very rewarding, but some of the moments I enjoyed the most were the ones that I had to myself. With this particular retreat, Keala took us to some cliffs where we were told to throw a lava rock into the ocean that symbolized an event, person, thing, or memory we wanted to let go of. Being so close to the ocean and experiencing mother nature’s power in all its magnitude made it a satisfying enough experience on its own, but because we were left alone to do inner healing work, the whole experience really came full circle.
6. Look Around You
By going to a retreat, you are most likely going to be travelling far from home (or experiencing another awesome part of your country), so you’re giving yourself the opportunity to explore this world. By putting yourself in a new place you are totally taking yourself out of any funk you might be feeling, giving your eyes something new to look at. I never thought to visit Hawaii despite knowing how beautiful it is and once I booked the trip I couldn’t help but think to myself, “Oh my god, I’m going to Hawaii!” It was a surreal feeling. The Big Island is stunning and I exposed myself to all of its natural wonders, including the Volcano, which is something I never thought I’d get to see!
7. Ditch The Phone
Probably the best part about getting away was having my phone on airplane mode for the whole trip. (I say airplane mode because I did bring my phone along to snap some photos, along with my Nikon camera.) It was amazing not to feel the need to check it every 5 minutes. We had limited, slow Wi-Fi at the house which served us well because it meant I couldn’t just jump onto my laptop and peruse my Facebook feed.
8. You Can Allow Yourself To Be FREE
By making the choice to go on a retreat you have to learn to cede control to other people and to the moment. Drop your expectations and let yourself be totally immersed in your present! A retreat acts as an escape to some degree, so allow yourself to escape. The only schedule we abided to, frankly, was getting some form of healing in the morning and attending a workshop in the afternoon, but mostly it was a go-with-the-flow kind of vibe. And it was great.
9. Do It For Yourself, And No One Else
Be selfish, or whatever you want to call it. If you feel a certain retreat resonates with you and you can’t get it off your mind, that’s a sure sign that the universe is telling you to F!@K it, and do what you want. I had some serious reservations about money but when I put it into perspective, I knew that I was getting the most bang for my buck, and besides, what better way to spend money than to invest in your health with a healing/spiritual retreat in Hawaii? I made a decision to not let anyone make me feel bad for doing what I wanted with MY money, and while getting advice is great and important with these types of scenarios, it was my final say that was most important.
10. Don’t Be So Hard On Yourself
Most importantly, this is a time for you to explore yourself so you can grow; there is no sense in setting up expectations and pressure for sudden change to happen. In order to change, you have to be open to any possibility. Even if the changes don’t happen in one day, or five days, or two weeks, know that you have planted the seeds of change simply through your willingness to take a leap of faith into unknown territory. Take what you learn and bring it home by incorporating any new practice that you felt benefitted you the most. This is how change can continue to manifest.
What do you really have to lose? Through a retreat, you have the chance to devote yourself to yourself and your growth, trusting that your needs will be met. A retreat gives you the opportunity to trust your intuition, your teacher, your guide, and your fellow travellers. Trust in the process of the journey.
Keala has a few retreats coming up and if you’re interested you can contact her here at firstname.lastname@example.org.