Imagine being able to pause time. To hit the ‘off switch’ on your everyday life, for just a moment. And catapult yourself into a space where you can just ‘be’. With no distractions.
This is what going on retreat is all about. A chance to withdraw and step back from your everyday life and responsibilities. To stop, and be still.
The benefits of retreats are wide-ranging, from reducing stress and worries to letting go of things that are holding us back, finding peace, deepening our spiritual connection, and improving our outlook on life and relationships.
Going on retreat can benefit anyone - of any age, background or religion - at any time in their lives.
Here are seven reasons a retreat may be perfect for you:
1. You are in need of some quiet time
The last year has been difficult for all of us in different ways. Perhaps you’ve lost your way a little, or are craving some kind of clarification or new meaning from everything that’s happened. Going on retreat gives you a quiet space to calm your soul and clear your mind.
2. You are seeking clarity while facing a major life decision
It’s hard to find space to think clearly when juggling everyday responsibilities like work, paying the bills and doing the school run. Sometimes when we have a difficult decision to make or are struggling with something that is happening in our lives, having time away from our normal routine gives us the space we need to sit and think, and for things to come clear in our minds.
3. You wish to set aside some time with God
In Christian tradition, retreats are an important part of spiritual formation. Going on retreat allows you to separate yourself from your normal routine and responsibilities so you can be open and ready to listen to God. Being on the go all the time is not only exhausting but can also cause us to feel fragmented and disconnected from God. Going on a retreat helps to dispel these feelings of discontent, by giving us time to look honestly at ourselves in relation to God.
I hear the traffic rushing by
But I hear the birds sing louder
I hear a car horn beeping in anger
But I hear the squirrel chasing his friend around the tree louder
As I sit quietly in the garden surrounded by nature
I hear the silence
It could feel like loneliness or peace
but as the sun shines down onto my face I feel the embrace of the God who created it all.
Poem by Suzie Kennedy, about her experience of being on retreat at The Royal Foundation of St Katharine
4. You are in need of a break away from work or family
We all have moments where we feel like things are getting on top of us, perhaps due to the stresses of work or family life. Even when things are going well, it’s still important to take a break every now and again for your mental and emotional wellbeing. Going on retreat and having the time and space to focus on yourself can be a transformative experience. Caring for yourself will give you the energy you need to make the most of your life and to better support others when you step back into your normal life.
5. You are recovering from an illness
Whether you’re recovering from a physical illness or period of mental ill-health, going on retreat can give you a space to heal, rest and feel restored. A retreat can be an incredibly healing experience, resulting in a clearer mind and a fresh spark of energy and vitality. It can also help you practice acceptance and letting go, which can help you on your journey to recovery.
6. You want to relax and unwind
Going on a retreat gives you a space to relax and unwind that you can’t find sitting in front of the TV or taking a bath at home. These are just small moments you can take to relax, but doing so in your own home means it’s not truly an escape. It’s only when you step outside of your everyday environment, into a place of peace and tranquility, that you can really begin to unwind.
7. You are looking for an alternative holiday
If you’re looking for an alternative to your usual beach or adventure holiday, a retreat might offer just what you need. With many travel restrictions still in place and the issue of having to self-quarantine or pay for expensive Covid-19 tests when you do travel abroad, retreats are likely to be one of the most popular types of trips this year. Why not make 2021 the year you give a retreat a try?
There are many retreat centres across the UK, so you don’t have to travel too far to get the benefits of a retreat. The Royal Foundation of St Katharine Retreat Centre is a quiet sanctuary set in beautiful gardens, situated just a few minutes walk from the River Thames in the East of London. We offer a range of retreat experiences, from Quiet Days and Open Reflective Days to Residential Retreats. You can find out more about our retreats here.