by Katherine WIllow ND

When retreats are advertised, they are described as soothing mini-holidays for the body, mind and soul.  The touted benefits include a sense of coming home to yourself, feeling rested and rejuvenated, having a clearer sense of your path and learning new spiritual and healing tools to take home.

This tends to be true.  It’s amazing what can happen when you replace rushing about with a peaceful flow.  The body and mind can rebound more quickly than you’d ever expect.

However, there’s a catch.  It’s similar to what we tell you when you start a program with a naturopathic doctor: you can get worse before you get better.  This is a combined result of the healing process itself and a certain amount of detoxification.  In fact, when we think we’re simply having a “bad day” for no obvious reason (as opposed to after a weekend of revelry), it is often this same mechanism at work.  The trick is to remember this fact — because if we think we’re ill, the body will take much longer to get through it than if we cheerfully realize that we’re healing!

How does this relate to retreats?

In our normal modern pace of life, unless we’ve already modified our lifestyle to accommodate a healing journey in a retreat setting, our physical and mental issues take a back seat to GETTING THINGS DONE.  We become quite unaware of the baggage we are lugging around on both of these levels.  When we suddenly stop, the first response is sometimes a deep fatigue, followed in turn by detox reactions.  The latter can include headaches, muscle pains, loss of appetite, digestive upsets, uncontrollable irritability, weepiness and a deep desire to leave the retreat.  Typically these happen in the first two days.  Or, nothing out of the ordinary may happen, depending how one lives in everyday life.  Some people feel good right away.

By the third day, this wave has usually passed, leaving the retreat participant feeling better than they have felt in ages, sometimes ever.  They are inspired to clean up their lifestyle at home so that they can continue to enjoy this vitality and bliss.

That’s where the second catch comes in.  Going home to a hectic household/job/family after a retreat is like being dropped over a cliff.  It takes time to establish habits that support a high level of health and wellness; meanwhile one experiences the imbalance of “normal living” in a rather acute contrast to the natural rhythms that we cultivate on retreat weekends.

However, retreat bliss is better than any drug or distraction.  It moves us to change.  It inspires us to grow.  And then all the discomfort is well worth it and we become a beacon for others.  And at the Centre we really do try to make it easier on people by designing our retreats in a way that facilitates healing smoothly and includes having FUN!

I hope I have presented an honest overview of retreats.  If you have any questions or just want to learn more, call the Learning Centre and speak with Freya (613-839-1179) or email programs@ecowellness.com.

We’d be delighted to see you at our upcoming summer retreat on July 17 – 19 (Friday night thru Sunday). Check the Learning Centre schedule for more details.