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

417 thoughts on “Two Ways to Approach a Retreat 

  1. It is quite an awesome experience post Retreat when you find your self naturally updating or entirely relinquishing negative habits, some of them quite entrenched, with an ease that is surprising. This is the gift of every Universal Medicine event I’ve attended. The more we connect with our true essence, appreciate our innate qualities and talents, examine what is and what is not true in our lives, the more the dross drops off of its own accord.

  2. ‘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.’ This feels really poignant. Nothing is withheld. The depth of what’s presented is multidimensional, how deep I am willing to take it is my choice but I do know it’s all been given.

  3. Retreats like this present us with the opportunity to take a deeper level of understanding and communication in our expression back into life. Not only as a new marker but to build on and expand before the next opportunity for another retreat or course.

    1. They can be one or the other. What I love about the Universal Medicine retreats is they give me the yearly stock take and also new foundation for the year ahead, allowing me to give it more focus and a theme rather than simply it being just another year.

  4. Taking a few days out and away from our regular routine is a great opportunity to review how we’re living in every way: how are we moving, thinking, speaking, interacting, eating, sleeping and exercising, and how does this affect how we feel and so our interactions with and our impact upon all others? What is also great about retreats is learning from others: how they live life, their routines and rhythms, not to copy, but as a point of mutual inspiration and learning.

    1. So true, BR, the support we offer each other through sharing our own experiences is enormous. I’ve always been been amazed at how beautifully everything constellates to support me, in terms of who I am sharing a room with, or who I sit next to at lunch – and the wisdom that that person reflects and is able to offer me is just what I needed to hear/feel at that particular time.

  5. In the early days of going to the Universal Medicine retreats, I would struggle going back out into the world, as in work and family. Everything would be great for a couple of weeks and then I would drop and start to find life difficult. These days I can’t wait to leave the retreat to put into practice what I’ve learnt.

    1. It’s the same for me Julie. As soon as the retreat is over I am eager to get on my flight back home, so as to integrate into my life, as soon as possible, all the wisdom and tools which have been shared and gifted to us during the retreat.

    2. Oh heavens Julie I remember the early retreats I went to! I used to find the difference between what I was offered and what I was living vastly different and it was quite a stark and jarring contrast. Like you, I now so love seeing the end of the retreat as not the end of anything but the continuation of the deeper connection to myself and the wonder of the Universe we are from and look forward to taking it home.

  6. This is the real purpose of a Retreat, to give us space to ponder on how we are living and how to restore our responsibility, purpose and commitment to the everyday. These events are not about hiding away, taking time out or escaping; every one means business on a forever deepening level.

  7. One of my favourite things about being on retreat is that the meaning of the word retreat has changed. Its not about escaping from life for a week for a break. We work during this time, which doesn’t necessarily fit the picture of a retreat. But pictures we hold on life and ourselves and others are up for review at the Universal Medicine Retreats. The way we work together is my favourite part. We work in small groups; discuss life, our observations, things we are stuck on and things we have mastered; assisting one another to see that there is more to life than our eyes lead us to believe. We work as one, as one community, no matter where we are from. I also love that my body feels amazing at the end of 5 days, even though I have been sitting for the vast majority of that time. Which consistently shows me that its the quality I am in as I work that leaves me with a lasting effect. Long and deeply enriching days that inspire, encourage and present all that we are.

    1. That is such a good point, it is the energy we are in when we are doing what we are doing not so much what we are doing. There is nothing ‘back-foot’ or lazy about these retreats.

  8. The UM Retreats are an opportunity for us to consider how open we are to the enormous support and wisdom that is being offered to us constantly – it’s incredible how blinkered we can be to what is right before us.

  9. ‘you changed groups every time and therefore had an opportunity to meet many different people from many walks of life.’ I used to be scared about sharing in groups but this experience has taught me we all have invaluable experiences and truths to share whatever our background.

    1. Me too Karin, I used to hate it and desperately try to be in groups with people I know. Now I am learning to just go wherever and to see how at ease I am in every situation. We learn from everyone regardless of their age or any other surface defining feature.

  10. “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.” So much more than the material veneer we are lead to believe is it. We are introduced to the energetic qualities at play behind it all and how to resume responsibility for outing the illusions so we can restore the true normal, a glorious vitality and joy to everyday life.

  11. I have had the absolute pleasure of attending the English Universal Medicine retreat and once a retreat in Vietnam and wow every time I have been completely blown away, every one of them has been life changing, every one of them has offered me a different chunk of heaven for which I’m extremely grateful for.

  12. Every Retreat attended re-unites us with our future qualities, ancient wisdom and our multi-dimensional natures, rich in philosophy, science and religion and enough practical tools to last a lifetime.

    1. What a perfect way to encapsulate the wholistic nature of the retreats. They are not linear but spherical and connect us to a wisdom we are from and a future we are ready to live again.

  13. A retreat can also be experienced as a period where we confirm, appreciate and reflect so that we can further engage in life in a more expansive way. Not so that we can do more, rather that we be more of who we are in life.

  14. I have experienced the retreat every year since its inception at Universal Medicine. I could write my own blog here about the beyond amazing experiences I have felt. It’s true how you could walk away from any Universal Medicine retreat and have enough tools to ascend where it is needed to live and reflect back the same wisdom that is imparted by Serge Benhayon, Natalie and presenters. Totally thank-full what’s on offer from this ordinary extra-ordinary being Serge Benhayon, and including fellow company.

  15. I guess the question is how do we approach anything in life …. work, relationships, food, study, exercise etc. A great topic to bring to attention and discuss.

    1. Great question indeed, Vicky. How we approach things in life offers enormous insight into how open we are to what is on offer, whether we are saying yes whole heartedly, with some reservation, or whether we are in fact saying no, but giving the illusion that we are saying yes.

    1. What I appreciate so much about the UM Retreats is the sharing of absolute truth, always. The beholding love that we are all held in, inviting us to be the truth of who we all are, the very practical tools we are offered to support us in doing so, the connection with each other and the numerous workshops where we share and support each other to nut out what is holding us back, how can we do things differently. We are always making a choice, energetically, we are either saying yes, or no, constantly.

  16. It is amazing how much can be buried in something that we assume we have developed an understanding of, which during a retreat like this is exposed as an understanding that we have used to function, or cope with life rather than a true understanding. It is amazing to be offered the lessons in retreats or in any situation in life.

    1. It is joy I feel when the veil is lifted and more light shines in my life, I agree, there is so much we think we know…and yet frequently it is assumptions that are our reality,which is the opposite of truth. Truth is always there, but do we live a life prepared for it.

    2. So true Michael! There are things I think I have worked out, only to find they brought more function to my life and protected the hurts I had buried from being triggered. But in keeping them buried the person I was hurting most was me because I was not bringing my true essence – which meant the people I met never saw the true me.

  17. Making a choice to not be racy and to stop the go-go-go feels like a form of silence and the Universal Medicine retreat offers practical life skills that can be used to see what life could be like if we practice them and didn’t feel the need to use the go-go-go and raciness to get through.

  18. Every retreat is different but I find it is the simplicity of life that is always offered for us to take back into our daily lives that is so inspiring.

  19. ‘No question there were challenges but everything felt possible’ I’ve played life from a place of security and realising my old ways no longer hold water has been challenging but knowing I can change and embrace new ways of being has been huge.

    1. Yes I feel like I am only just starting to learn this in that the space we allow ourselves to be in to then what is possible.

  20. We like to think we can categorise and divide life into likes and don’t likes, but with that we never allow for the natural rhythm of oneness, unity and wholeness we feel deep down and are naturally bound to.

    1. Yes what a good point. There is a natural rhythm of oneness that means there is no good or bad just ‘what is’ and part of what we can learn through observation, is what it is we are saying we like or don’t like on a deeper level so we bring more understanding.

  21. “It was an opportunity to make space for deepening the relationship with yourself …” In very unexpected and beautiful ways, as the teachings empower us to become aware of the Universal qualities that flow through us and thus appreciate the equality that lies within everyone.

  22. There is so much to reconnect back to such a wealth of understanding, such grace and beauty to allow back into our bodies by letting go of the control that life should be a certain way. When we try to control life then the beauty that is the universe cannot flow though us 100 % and so we are left the less for it.

  23. I can fully appreciate the space which is allowed for the work to be done during these amazing retreats, however if we find that they become an escape from life then we are not doing any true work at all.

  24. Two ways to approach life. Open and up for all the learning on offer, or restricted and trying to control outcomes as we perceive things should be. The latter is exhausting, the former offers endless opportunities to feel the richness and flow that life is.

    1. A great point Matilda … there is only ever two ways to approach life – one will have us living a very limited version of ourselves in our own bubble, and the other offers a forever expanding way of being in life.

    2. Yes, there is nothing we experience in isolation to the whole. Control is a reduction of what is on offer and is, as you say exhausting and we miss out on so many opportunities. I have to say though, it had become such a natural way to live I didn’t realise how debilitating and self-sabotaging it was so the opportunity to get those reflections are incredibly valuable.

  25. Being Christmas it is a time of year we can either retreat from life or take the time to retreat back to ourselves and reflect on the year. I used to think of retreat as meaning a time away from life and others, but now I see it as a moment to either be with myself or with others, one where we are simply being ourselves and not getting caught up in life which we so easily can.

  26. ‘The whole week consisted of short presentations and group work. There was no sitting back and letting the work be done for you.’ The focus and energy put into a retreat is what is given back out way more, just like life. It’s interesting to reflect on how I approach a retreat. I worry about what will be uncovered but I know what’s not serving me in my life. I then feel how held in love we all are, so that whatever isn’t love that’s exposed, is let go of without judgement or incident. I am feeling this is possible not just at a retreat but in life too. The retreat is just a space to connect to the support and multidimensionality of who we are and then realise that’s who we are everyday all day and the support is there 24/7 too if we choose to connect and be aware.

    1. Well said, we are offered the opportunity to connect to the support and love we are held by all the time – 24/7 in a universe that has no concept of any moment being any different from another.

  27. “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” This is what is so remarkable about these Retreats – they are so simple and accessible for anyone, as we all know the truth of what we felt as children, it’s simply that we lost touch with it.

  28. I love how you claim the taking ownership at the end of the Retreat. It hadn’t occurred to me but is very true, what has been offered and built throughout the Retreat is then on offer to take away and make as our own new way forwards.

    1. I hadn’t been able to put my finger on what it was I had felt in years gone by, but this last year I really clocked the energy and the handing over of the reigns.

  29. All the Universal Medicine Retreats are a real Treat – a treat from our Souls that lovingly invites us to re-connect and re-build a true connection to our divinity, so that we can learn how to live the love that we are in our everyday normal lives with work, families, mortgages, bills et al. Practical, expansive, life changing and an essential part of Humanity’s evolution.

  30. Even when things are feeling really full on, if we stop for a nanosecond, we can feel without doubt that we are held, supported and taken care of. I love this article and its confirmation that we can bring the quality of a retreat into our everyday lives and that actually that is the purpose of a retreat or healing of any kind.

    1. Yes, we are offered tools we can use at any time but the opportunity to feel what being held feels like is the foundation we can build on as we take it home and work out what supports us and what doesn’t.

  31. The level of wisdom shared at these retreats is amazing and yet very practical and accessible and if we choose, life changing.

    1. So true, I go back to what we heard and learnt in them so regularly. I love that nothing is held back and we are offered a normal that can be our normal too.

  32. Universal Medicine and Serge Benhayon only ever offer those things that are practical and able to be incorporated in the day to day life – the Soul works in very practical ways and hence the magic of the heavens can certainly be lived every day in all situations. This is an amazing learning to experience, and is forever deepening in its process.

    1. I agree Henrietta, Serge makes things simple and practical and it is then up to us to take them and expand on what has been presented so it becomes ours and not a ‘Serge said’ or anyone else said for that matter.

  33. Retreats, as the word implies, are often set up to ‘get away from everything’ and to ‘get away from the world’, whereas in fact the Universal Medicine retreats offer the complete opposite in that they support you to hold your space in a beautiful way and realise that this does not have to be separate to your work and home life, but in fact that this feeling can indeed be brought into and lived in our everyday life, be this at work or at home etc.

    1. I love how all Universal Medicine workshops are so honouring of the love, integrity and responsibility which is our natural expression. And also how when this is the foundation, the meaning of words and terms naturally start to shed the false meanings assigned to them. The awareness I can gain from this – of what I have been settling for with the false meaning and what is actually on offer – in itself is huge.

  34. The Universal Medicine retreats are exceptional as they allow you to be in a space that encourages your growth but at the same times asks you to be a part of the world and its happenings – “space for deepening the relationship with yourself, without leaving your life behind”.

  35. I love the way you have teased out the subtle difference between the holding a Universal Medicine retreat offers and how we always have a choice to take that into our daily life or not; or, in other words, how there is a choice between being a mere recipient (and not a bad start at all) or take command and move in a way that accords with how we choose our life to be.

    1. Yes, we are never just the recipients. I thought for many years this is what I was, a pupil, no more, and although I will forever be a student I have realised the changes only happen in my life when I change my movements with a commitment to also bringing consistency.

  36. I have been attending these retreats for several years now and every year by the time the 3rd day of the 5 day retreat arrives, I feel so rich with insights, expanded understanding and tools for life that I wonder if there could possibly be more. And for the whole 5 days more and more keeps pouring. You simply can not put a value to these retreats. They are truly out of this world.

  37. I love how these Retreats have supported me to turn around very entrenched habits such as late nights, poor diet, lack of commitment and low self esteem. The commitment, tenderness and integrity with which I live today I directly attribute to these powerfully life changing events, which enable me to re-connect to my inner truth and wisdom with such ease and grace.

    1. So true!! I remember my first ever retreat and how early the events finished and we went to bed, I was exhausted and welcomed the sleep and then found myself awake at some ‘unearthly hour’ not knowing what to do with myself!!! By the end of the week my nervous system had slowed down and I had an inkling of what a sleep rhythm could feel like. When I went home I was surrounded by a different rhythm and there was then a choice to deepen my rhythm or adjust my rhythm to fit with another rhythm. Always a choice.

  38. We can become so absorbed in life that having a form of retreat allows us the opportunity to check in with ourselves and ensure that we are not being unduly affected by our choices. This can also be done in a momentary withdrawal to bring more awareness to our posture or how we are moving, talking or typing, all of which are expression.

    1. So true and this time of year is a great opportunity to do that. Expression comes in many more forms that we consciously give credit to.

  39. I love these events. Just when you think there cannot be anything else left to discover about our selves, every year more wisdoms flood the arena, giving us yet more insights, appreciation and concrete tools to deepen the quality of daily life and the integrity with which to live it.

    1. Sometimes I feel that I am only just getting started and that I really don’t know the half of it! With every new revelation and deepening I can feel the potential for more. In this awareness there is a never ending appreciation for the never ending evolution that is unfolding.

  40. It seems it always comes back to purpose, true purpose … why are we doing what we are doing, what choices have we made before we started ‘doing’ anything, honestly – what is our agenda and is it true?

    1. That is an important question to ask ourselves because when the tension is ‘in your face’ the answer is often that we have not noticed the agenda we are running with that no longer serves.

  41. “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” I have heard this being said before, but tonight when I read this I feel it on a deeper more meaningful level.

    Thank you Lucy, awesome to hear, I can feel the evolution that was on offer and the reminder that evolution never stops offering us the next step.

    1. Yes energy first, something I can never be reminded of often enough. I often find myself saying it to myself, about myself and also when observing others. A great support not to judge.

    1. Great point Michael – what are we retreating from when indeed we try to get away from “everything”? Are we actually trying to get away from everything or is it the way we are being with things that we are trying to escape? Perhaps it is ourselves in terms of the lack of space that we often give ourselves? I know that when I am feeling spacious and with myself there is nothing to want to retreat from, but when I am not feeling connected to myself and hence affected by the things around me, all I want to do is get ‘away’…much to ponder on here.

      1. I have started to notice that tension a lot more Henrietta. The tension is an opportunity to clock what is going on, what we are feeling, and once it has been nominated then it will often ease. When I am not honest to the depth my body is offering me the awareness, the tension stays and I will use a coping mechanism to dull the tension and retreat once more.

  42. As Christmas approaches and I have a week off I have been pondering what the purpose of my week off is and I can sense how there is a temptation to just let go of my usual supportive rituals that support me in my life and perhaps ‘retreat’ from me but actually this week could be a real retreat in terms of deepening my relationship with myself and my family and appreciating everything of the year that has been and to rest and prepare and rejuvenate for the year ahead.

      1. Yes it is absolutely ok to retreat, regather and rest as long as there is a purpose in it which for me is a lot about taking things deeper. In fact I get restless and edgy if my rest time has no purpose.

    1. I have found this time of year to be a second retreat and yes, it can be one of two ways (minimum!!!). I am finding that the opportunity to deeply reflect and to have space to surrender to that process without having to go to work is a most precious opportunity. Thank you for your comment as it has offered a moment of appreciation which I hadn’t clocked.

    2. I also get restless and edgy if my rest time has no purpose and to be honest I find purpose in repose a challenge. In that restlessness I get active but it is an action that comes from a drive. It is something I definitely need to work on as I don’t feel I have got anywhere near mastering.

  43. Lucy, I love what you are sharing in this article; ‘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.’ I notice how aware, open and honest children naturally are, that if they feel something they express it and generally don’t hold back with this – this is the case particularly with young children where they live from their bodies.

    1. True and as we grow older we learn we have to change what we feel to say to fit in and then come to a point where we will say whatever is needed to fit in! Oh to keep peeling back the layers of our expression to know what it is to speak without holding back and knowing that we speak from and with love, not hurt, pain or need.

  44. It it is big obstacle that stands in our daily living way that we believe that life comes in parts instead of living it as a whole.

    1. Since I have been open to seeing my life as a whole, rather than in segmented parts, I have been much more open to taking care of the detail across the board which has supported to have much more balance and evenness – no delineation in relationships, work and home life, simply an awareness that quality is needed in every moment regardless of where that moment happens to be.

      1. Yes agreed, and the pockets that try to fly under the radar come up and look like a blotch on the end of your nose so if you choose to look the other way again, it will be obvious and ‘in your face’ when you next look in the mirror!!

      2. Absolutely. I dropped the ball recently with taking care of some detail and I became aware of not just the impact that had on me, but on others too. It was indeed a blotch and an ugly one at that, but a super reminder to not check out and to be mindful that every moment counts, especially when I bring all of me to that moment.

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