More of us are going on spiritual retreats today than ever before. We’re all looking for ways of fueling our spiritual growth, and we know these events are a powerful way to do so. But while having these experiences is great, the fire will burn out unless we intentionally keep stoking the coals.
Throughout my own retreat and festival travels, one thing I’m always asked is how to take the experience home. Fellow fest-goers say, “I feel so great now, and my practice is strong — I’m so committed! — but, I’m afraid it will all disappear when I go back to the ‘real world’.”
Longtime yogi, spiritual teacher and Director of the International Yoga Festival in Rishikesh, India, Sadhvi Bhagawati Saraswati offers these tips that may keep us strong and inspired after a transformational event comes to a close.
- Be fully present in the experience. Sadhvi likened the transformation that occurs on retreat to falling in love. She said that sometimes, we connect with another but the emotions are fleeting and we’re back to our pre-love selves in no time. But sometimes, our hearts have truly fallen in love with the heart of another and even after our plane touches down, we’re changed. Our heart is broken, or beaming, and the love is still there. Nothing can take that away. So, be like the vulnerable lover and let yourself fall into the experience before you. After you go home, that love will still be there.
- Make a plan before you go home. To prevent losing focus when you return, Sadhviji says to do some prep work before you leave the event. Put pen to paper and write down what your life will look like after you return home. How will your days be different? What will you do or not do to preserve your sadhana or spiritual practice. Be realistic, but committed. You will not have much more physical time than you had before, however, based on your priorities, plan what can you shift and change?
- Stay connected. How can we nurture the clear contentment and intimate community we feel after a great class, workshop, or retreat? Technology gives us the tools to stay connected with and accountable to those who chanted and practiced alongside us. We can create messaging groups, groups within Facebook, group Skype calls, email chains, etc. We have the power to remain connected to and inspired by our retreat family long after the event is finished.
What tips have you found that have helped bring the festival experience back with you?
Want to experience yoga in India? Start planning your pilgrimage to the International Yoga Festival next spring in Rishikesh, India. www.internationalyogafestival.org
Join Sadhviji and other world-renowned yogacharyas like His Holiness Swami Chidanand Saraswatiji, Seane Corne and Sharon Gannon for International Day of Yoga celebrations at the United Nations in New York City on June 20 and 21. Registration ends June 16! Find more info at tinyurl.com/IntlYogaDay-UN
Photo by @thedjpierce