There's a whole lot of travel going on this summer, perhaps some even involving you and a slew of planes, trains, and automobiles. Yet for many of us, such travel is rarely about stopping out of the whirl of motion to catch up with yourself.
Particularly when it comes to getting clearer about your life's work playing out in real time, many of us need a true retreat to step back, listen to what we're truly called to at this time, and discover the next best path to take. That's what inspired Kathryn Lorenzen and I to dream up the Big Picture retreat Oct. 20-22.
Here are seven gifts of going to the Big Picture retreat:
Breathing Room: Retreats give us a chance to step out of the sometimes fast-moving or chaotic rushing waters of our lives and hit the pause button in good company. Just taking time to breathe freely, knowing there's nothing we need to do on this retreat except come to some sessions and see what we see during the weekend is a generative process. Some of our best baby steps or biggest leaps have come to us during retreats.
Discernment Space: Discernment is the practice -- a spiritual practice to many (especially in the Quaker community) -- of listening closely enough to ourselves without agenda that we can feel out where we're truly drawn to go at this moment. I find having the space to dwell in uncertainty -- to carry forward a question or possibility without a clear direction yet -- is essential to finding the next best step.
Relaxing and Replenishment: Retreats are, when designed to be true to themselves, places where we can relax -- let down our guard, leave the day-to-day luggage at home, and often sleep more deeply. Such relaxation helps us replenish ourselves. Both Kathryn and I have found such retreats bring us better sleep and happier calm.
Hearing Ourselves and Being Heard: Our words convey their full weight to us when we have good witnesses, people who are listening carefully enough to really "get" what you're saying. Sometimes that means reading something we wrote or saying something out loud and catching ourselves by surprise in realizing, "Yes, that's exactly it!" or "No, I don't want or have to do that." There's a lot of power in having good witnesses in the room.
Discovering Our Quests and Questions: Retreats are exploration expeditions to find what's around and ahead, what direction calls to us, and what we need to pack to go further. All of this can lead to thrilling discoveries, whether they look like "Oh, this is the next step of the path" or "Here's what I need most to make the changes I seek" as well as new insights about our gifts, capacities, and connections.
Lots of Big Laughter: Retreats focused on the work of our souls often are surprisingly full of humor. Maybe it's because people who come together to do this work in community feel such a weight off their shoulders or how much joy we can trip into when we give ourselves permission to speak our truths, be fully heard, and follow the path toward what we truly want most to do. At all our previous retreats, we laughed. A lot.
Coming Home to Ourselves: Years ago, a coach I worked with asked me to consider, with each decision, "Does it bring you away from yourself or home to yourself?" A true retreat, even if just over a few days in a beautiful place with new friends, can do wonders for increasing our comfort in our own skin.
Bonus benefit: Eat well and sleep well too! We meet at Hummingbird Vista, a beautiful historic home on the grounds of Unity Village, where we have some luxurious accommodations or you can stay in the superb Unity Village hotel nearby. We also have a professional farm-to-table chef cooking up delicious and healthy food (with vegan and gluten-free options).
Kathryn and I have found such retreats are powerful medicine, especially for understanding what particular confluence of our lives and the world's needs. The Big Picture retreat is designed to help us explore what purpose and calling are knocking on our doors, and from there, what to plant and plan for the coming year.
You can find out more here. Please note that our block of rooms at the Unity Village Hotel -- a beautiful, green hotel located on the ground near where we'll be meeting -- expires Sept. 1.