Summer Retreats: Taking Time for Yourself
By Abe Brown, Master Coach Trainer
Confused… Cluttered… Exhausted… Worn Out… On Edge…
These words described me, at a point in my life, when nothing was working, efforts were failing, and time was accelerating. There was too much on my plate, not enough in my tank, and my daily calendar had absolutely no margin. A coach of mine suggested that I take some time for a Personal Retreat; to get away and rest, renew, and re-focus. My response was to suggest that I just did not have the time. As soon as I said it, I knew it was not so much that I didn’t have the time, but I was not taking the time. So I did.
When I felt confused, cluttered, exhausted, and worn out, I was not alone. 75% of the general population experiences at least some stress every two weeks. Stress is so prevalent that the U.S. Public Health Service has made reducing stress one of its major health promotion goals. According to the American Institute of Stress, workplace stress costs more than $300 billion each year in health care, missed work, stress-reduction, and lost productivity (stress.org/workplace-stress). Stress contributes to heart disease, high blood pressure, strokes, cancer, and many other illnesses. Stress also affects the immune system, which protects us from many serious diseases. Stress contributes to the development of alcoholism, obesity, suicide, drug addiction, cigarette addiction, and other harmful behaviours.
The truth is that often we are stressed because we do not take time for ourselves. Ovid said that, “What is without periods of rest will not endure.” I agree, and also, who is without rest will also not endure.
Taking the time for Personal Retreats has been a part of personal development and growth for thousands of years. From early Jewish worshippers, to Buddhist monks, to Hindu priests, to spiritual shamans, to Christian monks and nuns, Personal Retreats have been practiced and celebrated through the years by people of every faith and spiritual orientation. Lin Yutang said this: “Besides the noble art of getting things done, there is a nobler art of leaving things undone. The wisdom of life consists in the elimination of nonessentials.”
Personal Retreats have been practiced and celebrated over the years because they Rest the Body. Life can be hard on the body, with the constant demands on all of us to work harder and produce more and engage in more and more activity. Personal Retreats give us the opportunity to rest our bodies, to honour our physical temple, and to recharge our batteries.
Enlighten the Mind
Personal Retreats also Enlighten the Mind. An amazing thing happens when we pause and become still: Our mind is enlightened. Answers and solutions present themselves. The complex becomes simple. Confusion fades. Our mental knots unwind. Resting your mind, and taking time to meditate and dismiss your worries and cares is one of the secrets of energy and empowerment in great women and men. There is power in resting your mind, and actively dismissing all care and worry. The power of rest is that it feeds and nourishes and sustains your mind.
As a result of having a Rested Body and Enlightened Mind, Personal Retreats Nourish the Soul. Our soul, like a tender plant, or even an infant child, needs to be continually nourished and cultivated. The power of a Nourished Soul is such that when properly nourished, we have the motivation, strength, and capacity to nourish and feed others. When we find inner peace and inner rest, we have energy available to empower and enlighten others. Being available to strengthen and support others is surely a part of our collective destiny. Personal Retreats help us here.
Heal the Wounds
Personal Retreats Heal the Wounds. Life, work, business and relationships can hurt at times, and so we need to take time to pull away and heal. Perhaps society has so much visible dysfunction in terms of relationships precisely because we don’t take time to heal. The insecurity, fear, ego, and even anger others project onto us, and we often unknowingly project onto others, may occur simply because the time is not taken to reflect, renew and heal.
Refresh the Spirit
Personal Retreats Refresh the Spirit. When our spirit is refreshed, we encourage ourselves more, bounce back quicker, and are more available to others for mentoring and accountability. We also live our lives with a greater degree of gratitude and less of a degree of entitlement. Our resilience causes us to become a source of refreshing and replenishment to others.
Clarify the Vision
Lastly, Personal Retreats Clarify the Vision. So many times, what was once clear to us in terms of vision and dreams and forward thinking becomes clouded and obscure. I used to have a mirror which found a home in my garage, and of course, it inevitably became dusty. When I looked at the mirror, the image it reflected was not clear. Personal Retreats are an incredible opportunity to withdraw from the hustle and bustle of daily life, so that our vision can again become clear, and so that the dust can be wiped away.
Ancient Hebrew worshipper share the story of the Divine as actually legislating periods of rest. After six days of work, their entire society was commanded to take a day of replenishment, rest, and renewal. After six consecutive years of working a particular field, they were instructed to rest the field in the seventh. Their history described how as a result of not taking time to rest, they fell into unhealthy patterns of living, which, according to the story, led to them losing their land and inheritance. The point is that we always lose when we do not rest.
Sometime this summer, please take some time for you. Find a quiet place. Allocate 24 or 48 or 72 hours. Turn off your ringer. Take a social media fast. Pull yourself away, and simply take time for a Personal Retreat. You will be grateful, and those around you. Ovid, who lived way back from 43 B.C. to 17 A.D., said this: “Take rest; a field that has rested gives a bountiful crop.” You and I were born to yield a Bountiful Crop! This Bountiful Crop comes as we take time to rest and renew, and taking time for Personal Retreats is an important part of rest and renewal! Happy Retreating!
Abe Brown is the Coach’s Coach, and is the Founder and President of Momentum Coaching, and the President of the Certified Coaches Federation. Momentum Coaching has experienced triple digit growth for several years running, and the Certified Coaches Federation has trained and certified over 10,000 Life and Executive Coaches in the last 8 years. Abe does Leadership and Executive Coaching, and works with profit-based, and non-profit organizations around strategic planning, cultivating fully engaged employees, and facilitating coaching and training programs. He has also worked with several small, medium, and large businesses to accelerate revenue growth and maximize engagement.