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

432 thoughts on “Two Ways to Approach a Retreat 

  1. When we are in a “cocoon” state of existence, we are preparing to be open to the most glorious way of living as our wings unfold and we break free of our encapsulated lives. This is an allowing of our choices to deepen the harmony within from our essences.

  2. I love how you describe the topics discussed as being ‘nothing fancy’. That’s what I love about the retreats. They are an opportunity to reflect on our everyday lives, how we go about living and see where we can expand on what’s already there.

  3. If the retreats run by Universal Medicine have taught me anything it’s to commit to life even more, when we return home. In the beginning, I would feel bereft on leaving a retreat and then there was a shift when I could feel that I wanted to take myself out into the world and was ready to be with people.

  4. Taking inspiration from the sub-title of this article and asking, ‘What are the different ways to approach every breath, look, step, touch…?’ I realise the significance of every moment and the choice we always have to move with love or not.

  5. “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. ” Love this, young children know who they are, there is a certain level of self love and self acceptance that is undeniable, getting back to this is one of the greatest gifts we can give someone.

  6. “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.” What gold to be given and a gift that has been accepted fully by you.

  7. The beauty of these retreats is how practical they are. I get the chance to look at my life, reflect where it’s going well and not so well, and make practical changes that are needed with tonnes of support.

  8. Just yesterday I was discussing with a friend of mine who went to one retreat and has totally changed her life around. She was so inspired by the other participants she met and talked to, that she realised she was no different to those, and if they could do it so could she.

  9. ‘It was an opportunity to make space for deepening the relationship with yourself, without leaving your life behind’ – this is so true for me too. I get to discover more of me and the woman I am and the woman I am becoming. I also develop another relationship with others too, those so called issues, fall away and I get to see them for who they are too.

  10. Accepting the simplicity of life and our true purpose, being open to the teachings that Universal Medicine Retreats offer, has changed my life. No fanfare or excitement, just fact, and I live a life now that has a quality, warmth and joy to it that for a lot of my life would have been inconceivable.

  11. I am approaching a Universal Medicine retreat and I have been feeling that the past 12 months has been preparation for this time. I truly appreciate the choices I have made to be where I am today and will continue to deepen my openness and tenderness in the approach to this years retreat. `it is a beautiful opportunity to be more of ourselves – a dedication to being who I am for all to be blessed by this light that I am. That is the gold Serge Benhayon brings to all his presentations.

  12. I love that a retreat offers an opportunity to reconsider all that we have taken as normal and re-evaluate and let go of what doesn’t serve, and appreciate what does, and deepen that.

  13. As this years retreat approaches, this has given me time to consider my approach to it, I feel that this is a time to deeply prepare for the what I know is the grander love within me to come out. It’s a time of preparing a seed bed to be ready to plant the strongest plants within it.

  14. Choosing to go to a Retreat is confirming that we know there is more to us. The choice is there whether we go deeper and discover what that is, or stay on the surface and stay with comfort or ‘unwashed clothes, as you have so beautifully shared Lucy.

  15. When we approach attending a Universal Retreat with the first one delineated we do so with true purpose that is in alignment with that of the Retreat.

  16. I understand that there is no value in retreat into comfort and cruising through life, and that true retreat is having a relationship with stillness in everything we do, whether resting, at work, on overseas travel, in company, alone…

    1. I love this Matilda ‘..true retreat is having a relationship with stillness in everything we do..’. A great point to feel as we move through each day.

  17. I don’t usually look at words but reading this today I’m enjoying seeing the word retreat in a different way.

    There’s the re – repeating something, reviewing, coming back for another look, another cycle to deepen from the original.

    Then there’s the treat as in treatment, how am I going to treat life with what I’ve just been given from what’s being discussed? And isn’t this a treat? To leave with a new perspective we can continuously bring to life and review in our everyday. The what do I truly want to choose?

  18. Do we use a retreat to get away from the world or do we use it to support us to grow and hence handle the world by offering inspiration to those around?

  19. A Universal Medicine Retreat is always an opening up to perceiving a new way to be with ourselves and the the world. It offers us deeper understanding and connection, and opens us up to the Ageless Wisdom we are part of, and which is already within us. I have often wondered why it is called a retreat, as it is far from retreating from the livingness we are capable of and humanity and the way the world we have created around us.. It is full on the whole way through! Maybe it means “time away” to learn, consolidate what we already know, appreciate, and have the space to share and explore it all with others.

  20. In my experience once we have said ‘yes’ to a deeper level of awareness and understanding of life it never truly leaves us. We can slip back into old ways but the imprint or foundation remains there in the body and cannot be erased.

  21. The balance of rest and activity in our lives is super important. It is going on in every breath, every day, week, year… and developing our understanding of it is an essential part of our well-being and self-care.

  22. Great reminder in how we approach anything in life not just a retreat. Equally I have reflected on when I book myself on courses am I wanting to roll up and be ‘given’ everything or am I in the movement and knowing that I am equally responsible for what is presented.

  23. Every time I attend a workshop, a presentation or a retreat held by Universal Medicine I realize about the beauty of sharing in groups. Talking about what doesn’t support me to live in joy and ease, what conditions my natural expression, in what areas of my life I feel stuck…always is very supportive, freeing and life-changing. Also it’s a joy to listen and to get inspired by others’ experiences. I appreciate very much the sense of oneness and empowerment that can be easily felt in a space like this.

  24. I have attended one Universal medicine retreat and the opportunity to have a week to build a stronger relationship with ourselves can be life-changing. By having that focus we get to notice things about ourselves which we may not in day-to-day things, we get to talk about topics which more often than not don’t make the dinner table and we get to meet people from various walks of life, yet similar understandings or ways of thinking.

  25. 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?

  26. 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.

  27. 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.

    1. Yes, they are such an amazing opportunity because they offers us a much deeper awareness about the fuel we are sourcing to move our bodies. It is not until we consider where our fuel comes from that we consider how we have been nurturing our bodies.

  28. 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.

  29. 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.

  30. ‘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.

    1. Great sharing Matilda I have never considered this before! but yes normally we see a retreat as withdrawing or ‘taking break’ from life not to go deeper within ✨

    2. So true Matilda. We can use a retreat to collapse in exhaustion after pushing ourselves insanely hard, or we can use the opportunity of a retreat to consider how we have been moving that we feel we need to retreat from the world. One is a pause and the other replenishes in a foundational way.

  31. 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.

    1. Yes, whether we choose to acknowledge it or not, there is always a choice, to repeat a pattern of behaviour that can lead to exhaustion and therefore illness and dis-ease, or one that replenishes our energy with every movement.

  32. 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.

    2. Yes we rush rush rush through life and rarely offer ourselves moments to stop that are not just about relief from the rush. These retreats are about changing momentums as well, I find that, as well as getting a deep rest, I also address the patterns that got me to a place of feeling over tired or stressed in the first place.

  33. 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.

    1. Yes, we don’t realise the power of this till you go to a retreat and you feel the difference of going somewhere to get relief and going somewhere to unpack what is not part of you in the first place. Once we remember who we are, where we come from and what we are made of, we then have a choice to put on the heavy cloak of duty again – or not.

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

    1. Yes, everywhere we go, we go too! Therefore Yes, when you feel the tension and propensity to slip back into the normal way of doing things kicks in. More rush, more stress, less awareness, less willingness to allow space for reflection. There is ALWAYS a choice and it is our choice to pretend we don’t.

  35. 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.

  36. 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.

  37. ‘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.

  38. “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.

  39. 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.

  40. 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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