When I was in college, I discovered the book Autobiography of a Yogi. The book was all about Paramahansa Yogananda, an Indian yogi and guru, who introduced his meditation and yoga practice through his organization, Self-Realization Fellowship. Having a deep desire to develop my spiritual practice, I decided to visit his Encinitas, California retreat. It was my first time retreating, and I didn't know there was a right or wrong way to do it until I attempted to introduce myself to the lady who I shared a bathroom with. Our rooms were joined by the bathroom and one morning we both tried to enter it at the same time, which I though was a perfect opportunity to make friends.
"Hi!, I'm Rachel!", I said, extending my hand to shake hers, but the only thing she was shaking was her head, as she put her finger over her mouth, silently telling me to shut mine. I had no idea this was a silent retreat! Bowing my head apologetically, I quietly closed my bedroom door and lay on my bed. How was I going to sit in silence for three whole days? I started to panic, and thought about my escape plan. It's amazing what your brain will do to get some stimulation, anything to entertain it besides its own self-produced thoughts. As I stared at the ceiling, it dawned on me that this could actually be productive and maybe I should give it a shot. After all, the grounds were beautiful, sitting on a bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean, and I could freely roam as little or as much as I liked. I was served three delicious vegetarian meals a day, and had access to a meditation chapel and a spiritual library that would take a lifetime to get through. The experience of sitting with my thoughts was more grounding, clarifying, and peaceful than I could have ever imagined, and I ended up visiting the place many more times while I lived on the West Coast.
The next time I purposefully retreated was in 2017, when I traveled with a friend of mine to Ashland, Oregon to meet up with five other ladies for a group retreat. This time, silence was not part of the rules, and it's a good thing, too, because we couldn't keep quiet to save our lives. It was so exciting to connect with new people and to bond with them over four days of meals, hikes, nights of dancing, and laughing until our bellies ached. There were also solemn moments when we witnessed each other work through our grief, trauma, and self-perceived ineptitudes. We became sisters during our short time together, and it was with tear-filled eyes that we said goodbye, knowing that what we shared on that retreat was a once in a lifetime experience that could never be replicated. I haven't seen these women again, and I don't know that I ever will, but the memories of our time together and the sacredness of the journey we traveled together will always remain fresh in my mind. We all left, returning to our lives more empowered and inspired to squeeze every last drop of this beautiful life we are so miraculously given.
Our ReConnect Retreat is planned so that time is allotted for both silent reflection as well as the experience of community through a group setting. Centered around what we call The Four Seeds of Self-Care, activities will provide real-time integration of the seeds, as we gather in a retreat space surrounded by nature, filled with opportunities to replenish and reconnect with yourself and others. We hope you will join us for this one-day mini retreat. Take the time to reawaken to the life you were born to live, and return after an invigorating day, ready to deepen your connections to yourself, your family, and your community. Register now!