Must Be the Season of Retreat


Retreat is for everyone. Learn how you can benefit, and how to find a retreat that’s right for you.

by Kathy Simpson

We’re just a few weeks past the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year when the earth tilts its furthest distance from the sun. There’s more darkness than light these days, calling us into the warmth of our homes where we’ll cocoon for a few months, seeking haven from winter’s extremes.

In the Northern Hemisphere, this is the quintessential season of retreat. In the dance of opposites, it’s the dark side of summer’s light, the rest that becomes activity, the dormancy necessary for growth. These rhythms apply to everything in nature – to light, to the seasons, to the flora and fauna, and to us.

The value of a personal retreat
Nature needs its time of retreat and so do we. A personal retreat is a powerful way to attend to our own cyclical need for downtime. Whether for a day or two or a week or more, an intentional pause from day-to-day life can be tremendously restorative – a quiet time to let go of the fetters of life, reclaim a sense of balance and ease, nourish and renew our innermost spirit, and simply rest.

The options are plentiful
To truly retreat, escape is essential – to a place where your basic needs are attended to and your days are just for you. Thankfully, retreat centers are bountiful in the U.S. and around the world. There are centers for every faith, contemplative practice, and health and healing modality you can think of, often with idyllic surroundings. Accommodations may be simple or luxurious, shared or private. Take some time to explore the Internet to find what’s available in your area of interest, location and price range.

Making a choice
Retreat formats can vary widely. Some are silent; many have little or no silence. Some are teacher-led with a pre-set schedule of group activities. Others are unstructured, allowing you to spend your time as you wish, whether it’s reading, meditating, journaling, or walking in nature. Optional group activities, such as daily workshops or yoga classes, can provide group interaction mixed in with solo time.

It helps to know your goals so you can choose a center that offers what you seek. So do your research. Ask about the programs, the surroundings, the accommodations and even the food. After all, you want to leave feeling uplifted and recharged, not disappointed.

Who you will meet on retreat
People of all ages, backgrounds and ways of life go on retreat. One thing you can be sure of, you’ll share a common need for the introspection, peace and perspective that retreat allows. Even on a private retreat, you’ll probably meet some interesting, like-minded people.

You’re welcome to retreat at Copper Beech
Copper Beech Institute is an oasis of growth and transformation no matter what your background or experience. We offer overnight retreats, day retreats and workshops, and mindfulness courses throughout the year to help you cultivate mindfulness and compassion. Scholarships and fellowships available to those who might not otherwise be able to attend. We’d love to meet you here.


Kathy Simpson is a freelance writer with Copper Beech Institute who specializes in mindful living and holistic health.


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