There are infinite reasons to attend a yoga and meditation retreat. But three in particular have been on my mind as we get closer to an April 2023 return to Baja Sur. The top 3 reasons to retreat? Travel, practice and community. Keep reading to learn why.
1. Travel Is a Good Teacher
This past year, I spent just 66 days in the United States. And while there, I put over 12,000 miles on my car. All of this to say, I’ve been continuously traveling. The idea of being somewhere new and unfamiliar is, well, familiar. That said, traveling has yet to cease providing me with profound insight into my relationship to what I perceive as ‘other.’ Other people, other cultures, other places, other times, all of it.
Immersing myself in the unfamiliar provides great clarity around how I habitually react to the unknown. It’s drawn awareness to my past conditioning, taught me about myself, and shed light on where I still need to grow. Retreating from familiar surroundings gives us the opportunity to get to know ourselves better.
A friend was repainting her house. She brought home several different swatches to test out in her home. The same grey swatch looked almost light blue when placed on a white wall, appeared much darker when lying on her kitchen counter, and changed again with the light in her bathroom. We too will shapeshift when placed in a different context. It’s fascinating to find out how.
2. Prioritizing Practice Matters
There are two meditations we learn early on in the Buddhist path. The first is to meditate on our leisure and fortune. If you’re reading this blog, you have everything you need. In fact, you have so much you can afford to spend lots of time on what’s really important – your practice. The second meditation? Mindfulness of death. You may spend your time collecting money, accolades, and friends, but none of that can come with you when you die. What’s more, you have no idea when your last day will come.
These meditations are not meant to depress us, but to motivate. Right now, we have a very good opportunity before us but we don’t know how long it will last or when it will come around again. The time to get right in our head is right now.
Yet despite our best intentions, we can only seem to fit in a few 15-minute meditations and 2 or 3 yoga classes each week. To truly prioritize our practice, we need to get away. Like, physically step aside from our day-to-day lives, travel to a place with no cellular service, refuse to connect to WiFi, and for what might be the first time ever, allow ourselves to be 100% present.
3. Community is King
Last but not least of our reasons to retreat? The community you’ll connect with. Despite what most people think, the majority of our retreat attendees are single travelers. Just like you, these people had a little insecurity, uncertainty and fear, but they made the deposit, booked the flights and took a leap of faith.
Is there ever a perfect time to leave your job and/or your family, to drop out of your routine, to spend that much money on yourself? No. There isn’t. But wouldn’t you like to hang out with the kind of people who do it anyway?
It’s said that if a monk wants his practice to be fruitful, he’ll surround himself with teachers and fellow practitioners who are walking the same path he is. The support of the sangha is so important, we won’t get anywhere without it.
In a new and unfamiliar place, practicing meditation and yoga daily, energy moves, prana shifts. We go on retreat because we want transformation! But it’s not always easy. Thankfully, we’re never alone. The support we receive from our fellow travelers, and the opportunity we get to support them in turn, offers us exactly what we need to grow.
Sara-Mai Conway is a writer, meditation and yoga instructor who leads retreats in Southern Baja. Retreat with her to the Sea of Cortez this spring. Learn more and reserve your spot here.