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  • Writer's pictureIvana Musich

To Retreat or not to Retreat?

A recent study found that more Canadians now live alone than ever before. With that comes a rise in solo travel. Many of my own friends travel alone because they either don’t have a significant other or a group of friends that can take the same time off work, has the extra money, or wants to see and experience the same things they do.

If you fall into this category, solo travel is not your only option.

Retreats are the new all-inclusive vacation. Why would you opt in to stay at a resort for a week when you could travel to an exotic location, meet like-minded people, immerse yourself in the local experience and cuisine, take part in fitness and yoga classes, and dive into a little bit of personal development on the side?

If you need any more convincing, here are four reasons why retreats are even better than solo travel.

Traveling alone is a lot of work.

Unless you are one of those people that can surrender control and completely go with the flow, to have a successful solo trip, you need to do a lot of research, put together a detailed trip agenda, ask people for recommendations, not to mention plan to take extra safety precautions. When you go on a retreat, the agenda is pretty much done for you. Everything is organized — all you need to do is show up.

Traveling solo can get lonely.

We are social creatures who are wired to connect with others. Depending on the theme of the trip, retreats often attract like-minded people who you are bound to instantly connect with. It’s safe to assume that attendees who are drawn to a spiritual adventure in Peru’s Sacred Valley are probably into a lot more of the same things as you: spirituality, hiking, learning about history, nature, and yoga. Retreats often bring about authentic late night or early-morning conversations, shared memories, and spontaneous friendships built on a mountain top, on a yoga mat, at a beach or by the pool. Retreats enable us to thrive, supported by sense of community.

But if you feel like doing your own thing, you have the freedom to venture out and go explore on your own. You can opt for solo time and rejoin the group when you are ready, as all of the group activities are often optional. In this sense, going on a retreat offers the best of two worlds: social connection and alone time for reflection and self-discovery.

Each experience is carefully curated.

A successful retreat leader will design an environment where better alternatives can be imagined vividly. An atmosphere where we can invite our higher self to come forward, along with all of the aspects of ourselves that we may have neglected. Where we connect with our voice, the one that’s helping you read this — your inner narrator, your mind’s voice. Most people use this voice to read and think, but some people use it to keep in contact with their true self. On a retreat, we go on a quest to find or intimately reconnect with our own inner voice.

Retreats are vacations with a purpose.

As the pace of life and change accelerates, we look for support to stay balanced, find our own sense of purpose, and move forward with confidence. To do that, sometimes we need to get out of the very environment that promotes the stress, to a place where we don’t need to worry about the rat race and 'to-do' lists.

Research has shown that when people let go and enter a state of play, their conscious mind quiets down, allowing new insights to surface. Retreats provide an ideal environment that supports relaxation, connection, inspiration and change. This is why some of the best retreats include self-discovery workshops, guided tours, immersion into local culture, meditation, yoga and other physical activity, spiritual teachings and more.

And while our society has no shortage of people and companies guiding us around distant lands, fewer opportunities exist that help us in navigating a road less traveled: that of our own unconscious mind. Retreats provide us the opportunity to do both.

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