Two Ways to Approach a Retreat 

What are the different ways to approach a retreat? 

 Taking time out: 

  • To reconnect
  • To deepen your relationship with yourself
  • To consider a new foundation of eating in more obedience to your own body
  • To rebalance your sleep patterns.

Perhaps it is a treat: 

  • Not cooking your own food
  • Not washing up
  • Not staying in your own bed and home are also very much looked forward to.

The Universal Medicine Lennox Head Retreat offered all of that and more this year.   

I had not been for a few years so I approached this year ready to fully embrace all that was on offer. The days started at 5.30am and finished at 6pm with space to take walks, head home if you were staying locally, rest, catch up with friends or do some work. It was an opportunity to make space for deepening the relationship with yourself, without leaving your life behind: your life was still being lived and therefore, this made the retreat very practical.  

There was something worth noting from the outset that I didn’t really clock till the end and that is the ‘holding’ feeling, a ‘beholding’ of the space that started just before the retreat and began to lift on the last day, but I will come back to that.  

The whole week consisted of short presentations and group work. There was no sitting back and letting the work be done for you. Well, there was if that was what you chose, but what a waste of time, money and energy! I suspect you would have had to work very hard to not want to get underneath the topics we covered because they were so applicable to everyday life and supporting us to make sense of the nonsensical in our lives. To deepen this experience and get a wide variety of reflections and discussion styles, you changed groups every time and therefore had an opportunity to meet many different people from many walks of life. 

The topics are nothing fancy – they are unpacking our version of ‘normal’ so we can question whether they are contributing to the tension we feel or not and can decide if we still want that pattern of behaviour in our lives. It encourages curiosity and discernment. At every turn we are encouraged to consider the part energy plays in our movements, our choices and our behaviour.  

No question there were challenges but everything felt possible, and as such, everything I had thought of as ‘normal’ needed to be on the table for consideration again. After all, that is what a retreat is about, isn’t it – re-connecting, re-considering and laying new foundations?  

At the end of the retreat, as we were all saying goodbye, I happened to say to someone how easy it had been and how I could stay discussing this for longer. They casually said, “That is what life is for, isn’t it?!” Well, of course it is and as I shared at the start, there was no abdication of our responsibility for our own life and wellbeing on this retreat: but I had clearly considered it a cocoon from the pace of life I lived as my normal and had to recognise that I don’t have the same depth of discussion and conversation in my life as I had had that week, and clearly wanted. There was nothing to say I couldn’t take that back into my life if it was something I had found expanding and confirming and luckily for me, there was a common factor which would make it possible – me!!  

I realised that you don’t just leave what we have connected to in a retreat and go back to an old way of living – that is like wearing the same clothes for years on end without washing! When you take an opportunity, invest time and money, create space to be curious and feel what life is like out of those clothes, then the thought of putting the old clothes on again elicits only one response… Uh, No!!! 

So, what changed on the last day? Do you remember the ‘holding’ feeling I shared at the beginning? Well, that started to lift and there was a distinct feeling of realising it was time to take more ownership of the whole package and put it together, making it applicable to each of our lives. This was not for anyone to live for us, this was for us to bring into our movements, or not – no attachment or drama either way.   

I watched as Serge Benhayon and Natalie Benhayon said goodbye to us, in full awareness of the challenges we would face but equally knowing they had not once held back in offering us everything they too had been offered, to understand why life presents the challenges it does and to show there is another way. That reflection in itself was a lesson in offering participants true freedom – it was all given and if you never went to anything by Universal Medicine again, you still had all you needed to understand how to live life with Love and vitality. 

That afternoon I walked home and felt different. I could feel the energy that had held the retreat as a space for consideration had lifted. It hadn’t gone but there was now a realisation that it was for me to say yes to rather than for it to be there as part of the retreat. I wondered if this is what people who have always had a deep connection with God felt as their normal. It hadn’t been my normal for many years and yet, in that moment, there was NO question left for me that I was held by Love and that I was very much part of that Love  

As the days turned over and I went ‘back’ to my day-to-day life, each day was about re-imprinting the same routine to offer myself a deeper rhythm more in line with the rhythms I had felt when I had offered myself space during the retreat. The lack of space and the feeling of being sucked into time was palpable yet not a foregone conclusion. There was now no question I had a choice to build movements that did not lead me down an automatic set of behaviours to find myself back in my old unwashed clothes.   

It felt like growing up and a stepping into responsibility, seeing how much more there is to life than what we see with our eyes. I felt like I was given a whole picture and from there had an opportunity to see as an adult what I knew as a child but had shut down because no one really spoke about such things as energy.  

The greatest gift the retreat has given me – and it’s crazy that it is not basic 101 –is that it is always about energy before it is about anything else. The key is going back to the awareness we had as children and re-developing it so we become discerning and build a relationship with our body that will be the marker of all truth – our truth.  

Or, of course, we can also go to a retreat, enjoy, rest, discover, rebuild and go back to the way we were living before till we get another holiday or retreat moment. No one says we can’t do that. It just doesn’t seem to make much sense to me anymore. 

By Lucy Dahill, MPH, Youth Worker, Researcher, Presenter, Sydney 

Further Reading:
Awareness and why we avoid it
Inspired by Universal Medicine… Just Being Me
Before and After the Universal Medicine Lennox Head Retreat

357 thoughts on “Two Ways to Approach a Retreat 

  1. Like many things in life the quality we engage in activities is the key. If we look to a retreat as a means of gaining relief from the tension in life rather than a way of deepening within ourselves, we have missed the opportunity. As whatever we are seeking relief from will be there upon our return, so what is our relationship with it?

  2. The Universal Medicine Retreats are an invaluable opportunity for us to receive the wisdom of the ages as is current to our everyday way of living. Following the retreat the choice is ours whether we rekindle this and keep it alive or not.

  3. Beautiful blog Lucy, and what a beautiful way to look at a retreat – much more than just respite and recovery from the world, but going deeper into how and why we live the way we do, and then making practical realistic changes going forwards to support us out in the world.

  4. When I read the title I feel it’s apt for, there are two ways to approach life – to retreat and hide away, or to embrace all that comes your way, no matter how challenging, knowing it can always support you to come back to yourself and live all of who you are.

  5. The Universal Medicine retreats are like 5 days of being in Heaven, we are held in absolute love. Sometimes that love can be challenging because we are not used to the consistency of this love in our lives but it is an a amazing marker for us to then live and make it a normal part of our daily rhythm.

  6. ‘What are the different ways to approach a retreat?’ When I consider a question like this the simplest and clearest responses come from my body. At the moment I have a strong sense of leaning forwards into life, ready to learn, open to what is offered and that this is both an outward and inward direction. The more I engage with life like this, the deeper and more profound my relationship with the vastness that is beyond our human senses becomes.

  7. As with anything in life, we always have a choice – to truly appreciate what is on offer, to learn, grow and evolve… or to be blasé, take it for granted and go back to our old ways.

  8. Having some space to deepen our relationship with ourselves is a real gift we may not always appreciate, but is well worth taking a moment to feel how special that time is. It is a rare opportunity and very precious.

    1. Great point Gill … it is indeed a precious time and something to greatly appreciate. I have been wondering whether to go to the retreat this year but you have given me a great deal to consider in my choice now – thank you.

  9. Retreats are an opportunity to experience in full what is there for each of us when everyone is committed to sharing honestly, in truth and love, it is a microcosm of what is possible globally.

  10. My experience of retreats is much of what you’ve explained – but the real work begins when you step back out into life.

  11. Lucy, thank you for sharing this, it is a great reminder that ‘it is always about energy before it is about anything else’. I can feel how this makes life much more simple and clear.

  12. Having read many of the comments, I can see that although we go on retreat for ourselves, to perhaps take a moment to contemplate and consider knowing we are an ‘equal part’ of what is being offered and shared, reflects in our appreciation of our equal part in making the world we live in. What starts as a simple choice to allow space for ourselves, has a ripple effect that offers each and every one of us a correction back to the Loving way of being we are from.

    1. Yes I feel this is true and also am aware that ‘offering’ is the keyword here because sometimes there can be strong reactions from people who are not choosing to allow for what is being offered and in turn it is up to us to allow for and accept that – not imposing on another in any way.

  13. ‘It hadn’t been my normal for many years and yet, in that moment, there was NO question left for me that I was held by Love and that I was very much part of that Love.’ It’s not been my normal either but I now know it’s always there for me to choose. I used to feel very sad after courses and retreats because I wasn’t continuing to choose to stay connected with God; but there’s a joy now that this is something permanently there to be chosen and can be chosen so simply.

  14. “It was an opportunity to make space for deepening the relationship with yourself, without leaving your life behind” Such a key aspect of each Retreat, that they are not about hiding from the everyday, but about making the everyday sacred.

  15. Awareness seems to be the key here. With renewed awareness, it is unlikely we will choose to return to our way of living after a Retreat, there will always be some behavours, major or minor that we can make the choice to change.

  16. Universal Medicine retreats are very well designed for what is required to support attendees in life at that time – the choices is ours as to whether we are open to and accept what is on offer or whether we make it about something else.

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