10 Tips for the First-Time Retreat Goer

10 Tips for the First-Time Retreat Goer


Considering taking a retreat? These ten tips will help you prepare for the experience of a lifetime.

1. Start your retreat right this moment. Read all of our 23 retreat descriptions and feel into each one. How and why do particular places call to you? And how can you begin incorporating that calling right now?

2. Create a pilgrimage to your pilgrimage. A great retreat is a journey. Who and what are you taking with you? Are you going solo or with a friend or partner? If you’re going solo, is there a guide or a friend who can help you plan? You may want to choose your top five retreats and spend a week winnowing down the list, either by yourself or with your travel partner.

3. For some, a retreat is an excuse to buy new stuff. Ask yourself what you can do to counter that impulse. How can you begin to feel more at home in your own skin with the stuff you already have right now? What can you dispense with?

4. Decide how to make your travel as comfortable as possible, which means allowing plenty of time for delayed flights and thinking about what “personal protective equipment” (PPE) means to you. Is that a mask, extra legroom, travel insurance? Accept the fact that your pilgrimage may be difficult in today’s travel climate, so keep yourself safe and your heart open.

5. Inform the retreat staff in the most direct language you can why you are there, what your needs are, and if anything makes you really uncomfortable. The retreats listed in this guide will all do their best to help find what works for you.

6. During your retreat, keep in mind that the most powerful spiritual practice is a gratitude journal. Every day on your retreat, find new things to be grateful for.

7. Track the ebb and flow of your longings. In a weeklong retreat, you may want to go home on day three. On day five, you may never want to go home. Write down such feelings and ask yourself what they may be telling you.

8. If you find a new friend or special teacher, open yourself to the idea that you have found a new “old friend.” How might you keep in touch with this person to support the best part of you on your retreat, and vice versa?

9. Make your retreat from the retreat as gentle as possible. Again, travel is difficult now, so build in as much safety and comfort as you can—and keep your heart open.

10. Nurture the glow of your retreat, but go easy on yourself. A great retreat may point you toward large changes in your life, but no matter how quickly you may need or want to change, change typically comes slowly. Enjoy the journey.

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10 Tips for the First Time Retreat Goer

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