The less time you have for yourself, is when you should pay more attention to yourself. In a world that spins ever faster, stress, anxiety and exhaustion are just around the corner, so it is important to learn to make stops along the way that help you regenerate and recover your inner balance. Spiritual retreats are ideal for taking that essential break.
What does a spiritual retreat consist of?
Since the beginning of the 16th century, spiritual retreats have been a way to disconnect from the hectic world and connect with oneself. Although many people relate them to mystical and religious experiences, in reality they are more of a vital experience of rest to gain perspective, rebalance and fill you with energy.
In fact, a spiritual retreat is a period of time during which we get away from everyday life, breaking with our daily routines and leaving our usual environment to reflect, meditate and recharge our batteries. It is an opportunity to connect with that part of ourselves that normally remains silent and relegated to the background due to daily obligations and rush but that conditions our well-being and health, so it would be advisable to live that experience at least once a year.
There are different types of spiritual retreats. The majority offer activities such as yoga, meditation, mindfulness and biodanza to help us relieve stress, enhance our inner well-being and improve our relationship with ourselves and the others. They also offer conscious eating as they promote 360-degree well-being from a holistic approach.
The enormous importance of time and space dedicated to inner healing
Subjected to the constant demands of everyday life, we often forget the importance of creating those moments of relaxation, reflection and connection with ourselves. In fact, when was the last time you really slowed down and reflected on your life?
Spiritual retreats provide a space for introspection. They give you the opportunity to dive deep within, explore your thoughts and emotions, and reach a deeper understanding of yourself. That self-awareness is the cornerstone of mental well-being and personal growth.
In fact, a meta-analysis conducted at McGill University concluded that spiritual retreats are effective in “Reducing depression, anxiety, stress and improving the quality of life of participants.” It is not coincidental.
Neuroscientists at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia discovered that just 7 days of spiritual retreat, are enough to experience changes in the brain’s dopaminergic system as it increases the availability of dopamine and serotonin, two essential neurotransmitters for regulating mood and feeling good.
Therefore, stopping the daily dizziness will help you “rewire” your brain to rediscover the emotional balance you need. A spiritual retreat can help you develop mindfulness, reduce reactivity, experience more positive emotions and improve your relationship with others, according to researchers at the Zaragoza Mental Health Network Biomedical Research Center. Then you can return to your routine with renewed energy and a new perspective.
Immerse yourself in nature to find inner peace
Every spiritual retreat is different, so it’s important to make sure the center you choose is the best fit for your needs and goals.
A study carried out at the University of Miami revealed that spiritual retreats in the middle of nature, in which is practiced trascendental meditation, generate deeper and more meaningful experiences in people, who experience more feelings of peace and joy. By facilitating a sense of calm and tranquility, nature also relieves stress, lowers blood pressure, and reduces heart rate.
If you decide to give yourself a break in the nature you will be able to feel the relaxing embrace of the forest. As you tune in to the rustling of leaves, the singing of birds, and the flow of water, practicing mindfulness will become second nature. This conscious relationship with the natural environment fosters a deep sense of peace and presence, allowing you to release accumulated tensions.
How long should last a stage in a spiritual retreat?
Only you know how much time you need to achieve the goals you proposed yourself. However, the experts recommend to:
• Change your perspective and reset your mind: short stays of 1 to 2 weeks so you can relax and fill yourself with energy while rebalancing your emotions.
• Transform mental schemes, habits and relationships: average stays ranging from 2 weeks to 1 month since, to change a habit, a period of 21 days is usually necessary, on average.
• Make a profound change in your life: stays of more than 2 months are recommended to be able to acquire the necessary psychological distance, get rid of all harmful patterns and thoughts and develop a new perspective.
Obviously, the more time you spend living in this inner peace, the more it will take hold in your body and mind, the more permanent its benefits will be on your health and well-being, and the easier it will be to transfer it to your daily life.
Finally, remember that spiritual retreats are not a means to escape reality, but rather a consciously chosen journey towards self-discovery and renewal. When you prioritize self-care, you give yourself permission to heal, grow, and thrive. When you decide to strengthen your spiritual dimension, you deal better with the demands of daily life and preserve your well-being.
Zanesco, A. P. et. Al. (2023) The occurrence of psychologically profound, meaningful, and mystical experiences during a month‐long meditation retreat. Mindfulness; 14: 606–621.
Neweberg, A. B. et. Al. (2017) Effect of a one-week spiritual retreat on dopamine and serotonin transporter binding: a preliminary study. Religion, Brain & Behavior; 8(3): 265-278.
Khoury, B. et. Al. (2017) Effectiveness of traditional meditation retreats: A systematic review and meta-analysis. J Psychosom Res; 92: 16-25.
Montero, J. et. Al. (2016) Psychological Effects of a 1-Month Meditation Retreat on Experienced Meditators: The Role of Non-attachment. Front. Psychol; 7: 10.3389.