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Diving Deep: Feeding your Spiritual Roots in Spiritual Retreat

Are you sensitive to the separation that has developed between us and the natural flow of nature? As the pace of daily life gets faster, does the desire for a "time out," a chance to get away, or a vacation gets stronger? Yet even when we take the time, we may race around trying to fit it "all" in. There seems to be no escape from life as we know it.


Recently a friend shared with me that in the last three months she has scheduled two spiritual retreats. I was envious. She picked two different venues. The first was a beautiful spa retreat with yoga, vegan food, multiple modes of massage and interactions with groups of like-minded people to "refresh mind, body and spirit." The second was a solo opportunity at a luxury hotel that offered spa services and healthy food with an opportunity for her to have quiet time alone for contemplation, in a beautiful setting. It led me to reflect on how long it has been since I have taken time like this myself. To be fair, I live in a setting that is quiet and contemplative every day, near water and woods, away from the kind of life most people live. It was the conscious choice to set aside time that struck me. How easy it is to become involved in the daily habits of our lives, lose touch with our spiritual aims, and lapse into a flow that is less than healthy. My friend's conscious focus on her spiritual needs helped me to refocus my own inner self on what I needed as well.

In a world as hectic as ours, with so many external demands, we may find ourselves lethargic, fatigued, anxious or in a general malaise, and not even know why. Many people describe a feeling of "brain fog." Some say they have difficulty finding the same purpose they once felt about life; others say they have never had such a direction in life. As one who has frequently been on or led spiritual retreats throughout my life, I can tell you that these sojourns have deeply influenced my feelings in all these areas. I have come away from retreats feeling rejuvenated, inspired, excited, newly creative, and spiritually called to a new place. Giving myself the gift of retirement from the outside world for even a long weekend has rewarded me ten times over in the energy that was generated by the joining together with others come together for the same purpose.


Spiritual retreats come in all "flavors" and types, from traditional Christian to Asian religions, to eclectic combinations, to twelve step recovery. People tend to choose what they feel will best fit the journey they are on, or what they feel will help expand their spiritual path or help them address a particular spiritual question they have in mind.

In my own journey, I have found it quite helpful to integrate a particular aspect of traditional Chinese medicine. It resonates with my love of gardening and respect for the earth: that is the honoring and observation of the seasons in both the earth and what it offers us, and in the rhythm of our own bodies. Many years ago, I was introduced to a book, Staying Healthy with the Seasons, by Elson M. Haas Staying Healthy with the Seasons: Haas, Elson M.: 9781587611421: Books. This small volume addressed the many aspects of living in rhythm with the seasons, how the five elements of traditional oriental medicine coincided with the seasons, and how food also matched theses seasons and was the "medicine" for ailments that arose from imbalance of these times. The synchronicity of these systems could not be denied, both in their simplicity and their thoroughness, as well as the thousands of years of practice and observation behind it. In my own retreats, I try to return to this uncomplicated way of balance, which seems to bring an innate order to my life.

Combined with the elements of mindfulness, movement, group process and creative projects, these retreats have been instrumental in many people diving deeper into what is meaningful in their own spiritual lives, particularly for those engaged in 12-step recovery. These retreats are not aimed at any specific religion, but rather aimed at helping the participant deepen whatever spiritual path they are on.

Other spiritual retreats may specifically focus on a religious theme, and individuals who are deeply involved or seeking a religious experience may choose that avenue. Regarding recovery, people often choose to complete a fifth step while on a retreat, as the time feels much more intimate and confidential, and they may be attending with their 12-step sponsor.


If you have never been on a spiritual retreat, ask yourself these questions: What have I been wanting to investigate about myself but never dared to ask? Do I take more care of others than myself, and sometimes wish I could turn that around? What stops me? If I took a little time for me, how much more available would I be for the tasks of life? What would change if I had time to look a little more at my priorities?

Then dream a little: what kind of things would you like to do if you went away on spiritual retreat? What have you been wishing for time for, but never quite got to? Ask folks you know that have gone on retreats what it was like for them. Believe me, I have never come away empty from one of these experiences. The more willing and open I was, the more I took away. I want to encourage you to think of drinking from a stream of clear, pure water!


This Fall, with the help of some friends, I will be offering a retreat in the hills of West Virginia, during the beauty of our autumn leaves. We'll be on top of a hill, surrounded by trees, with hiking and a beautiful estate setting. In keeping with the Fall season, we'll have nurturing harvest foods, all prepared from scratch, hearty breakfasts, and fresh greens and soups for lunch. You will have creative opportunities to explore your inner self, interactions with others in active recovery, spiritual exercises and plenty of free time to roam and recoup. The setting is splendid, you will feel like the queen you are! Please visit to get more details and place your deposit. Spaces are limited. I would love to spend the time with you!

Please think about joining me from wherever you are. The Hagerstown airport is 45 minutes from the location in Berkeley Springs, and DC airports are about 1 hour and 45 minutes. Please email me at with questions!

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