Yoga retreats. Pilgrimage tours. Sacred sites. Ashram stays and wellness holidays and spa breaks. Has anyone else noticed that the way we travel is evolving? More and more it seems that yoga mats and detoxification programs are replacing sunbathing and margaritas by the pool.
So what’s driving this change?
As a leader of healing retreats in the Himalayas, I’ve noticed 5 reasons why retreats are steadily becoming the new vacation.
1. We need to de-stress
Lets face it most of us live busy, hectic lives. Long working hours, artificial environments, peak-hour traffic, TV and constantly vibrating cell-phones have become the norm. A regular vacation doesn’t really cut it anymore, we need to actively commit to stress reduction, and going on a retreat is a sure-fire way to relax deeply – without the distractions of modern-day life.
2. We want meaningful experiences
There was a time when holidays were just that – holy days. A time to celebrate religion, give thanks, reflect, and connect with family and community. With the break-down of traditional religious structures in modern societies, we are finding new ways to find meaning, transcendence and connection with others and the Divine. Spiritually oriented retreats with like-minded peers have become one way of feeding that inner yearning.
3. We need to re-connect with nature
Many leading psychologists today have asserted that a significant amount of depression, anxiety and stress can be attributed to alienation from nature. Nature has profound healing powers, and in times gone-by the sick were often sent to rest and recuperate in the countryside. Nature is also profoundly inspiring – gazing at the vast expanse of an ocean or the majestic height of a mountain makes us feel small, yet connected to a greater whole. Many retreats are set in sublime natural settings, which enable us to re-establish our connection with Mother Nature.
4. We are taking wellness into our own hands
It’s no secret that the modern health-care system is a bit behind the times. The underlying paradigm of treating symptom-based sickness is no longer aligned with the modern need for “wellness” – physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health and happiness. Lifestyle changes, nutritional guidance, stress-reduction and preventive medicine are the new ways that people are taking their well being into their own hands, and many retreats encourage participants to actively engage in wellness activities.
5. Sometimes we need a new perspective
Some people say that travel is escaping or running away from your life or your problems. I don’t think so. Travel can be a brave confrontation of your self. Away from the stresses and distractions from everyday life, we have a real chance for self analysis and reflection. During the retreats I have led, I have had the honor of witnessing many people find the perspective they need while in far-flung places. They have found the courage to set new goals, let go parts of their lives that are no longer working for them, and make life-changing decisions.
To quote Miriam Beard:
“Travel is more than the seeing of sights, it is a deep and permanent change in the ideas of living.”
So the only question that remains is: Where will you be going on your next retreat?