If we are to advance, first we must retreat

June 2, 2021
Danielle North

As we jolt back into some sense of normality after months of being stuck in cyberspace, we must take some time to reflect and make sense of what happened.

With the world slowly re-opening, many business leader's diaries are filling up with activities that were once normal but now feel like an added extra in the schedule.

With travel to in person meetings, returning to the office and team away days, life inevitably feels busier during this transition phase. Hands up who's dreaming of a long overdue holiday?!

Whilst a holiday might be part of the solution, we also know that holidays can be busy and are not always relaxing.  

What we really need is more reflection time and space to cope with the demands of a busier working life and increased social pressures.

But haven’t we been retreating all year and spending more than enough time with ourselves?

It is on the other side that deep healing occurs

The past year has been tough. We have taken on work in new and diverse ways, and it has been both inspiring and exhausting.  

Life is different now with many changes and advancements in our society to absorb, which is why now, as we jolt back into some sense of normality after months of being stuck in cyberspace, we must take some time to reflect and make sense of what happened.  

Now is the time to ask: have we given ourselves the time for adequate healing, processing and reflection that will give us the capacity to be of real service to ourselves and others in our lives going forward?

Finding our own meanings

Only through a powerful pause can we start the inner work of transforming the events of past 12 months into our own unique meaning.

By doing this we increase our consciousness and can operate at a higher level going forward - our connection to our work improves and we more profoundly understand our motivations.  

This is particularly important for leaders coming back into physical contact with their teams, as it is for business coaches and other practitioners in service of others – whose work ultimately only goes as deep as the person has gone themselves.

Collectively, humanity needs this deep transformation to take place, and it is going to need all of those who can facilitate it for others to have done their own work first.

Creating a powerful and transformational pause

This process of retreating requires some key elements to enable the transformation to occur.

Firstly, there needs to be space.  

Space between ourselves and others. Space away from work commitments. A physical space that smooths the process – free of clutter, busyness, and stimulation. Even space from the rigidity of an agenda, which is not what you would necessarily expect from a retreat.  

On all the Pause retreats, this need for space is considered very carefully. Venues are selected accordingly and there is ample space and time for unstructured, strategic thinking.  

Secondly, silence is created.  

In some instances, like our smartphones, stopping the steady flow of noise is straight-forward – the phone is simply switched off. However, in other instances like our own minds, we must work harder to find the silence required. We need to steady the rapid flow of thoughts that have developed habitually.  

Meditation on our retreats plays a significant role in facilitating this, but other methods are also used to help calm and still the mind. Qigong, breathwork and sound healing all bring about a mind-body connection that helps create stillness and silence for our busy frantic minds.  

Thirdly, compassion is embraced.  

Cultivating compassion for ourselves is crucial in a transformational process. True healing builds our capacity for compassion for others.  

Being on a retreat is a collective experience. Having a deep connection with like-minded people and doing the transformation work together is why many attend - compassion is continuously cultivated between participants. Everyone is seen and heard for exactly who and where they are.

Finally, nature holds us.

As we bring together all these elements, it is our connection and immersion with nature that provides the insight and answers we seek. Nature is at the core of our retreat process.

Nature gives us all we need to know. It provides perspective, it brings us into the present and it heals. With all its beauty and uniqueness, it is the ultimate source of inspiration, creativity, and fresh thinking.  

If we are to advance, first we must retreat

A retreat is moment in time where we have permission to stop, breathe and reflect. When we consciously retreat, we create space to go inwards, without the need to feel guilty about not being productive, so that we can tune into our needs, listen to our intuition, conserve our energy, activate healing and be more receptive.  

The elements of a Pause retreat have been honed over many years, but know that by embracing these key aspects, different degrees of transformation will occur. Space, silence, compassion, and nature can all be woven together as a healing process. A retreat is a contained, powerful, and beautifully connected way to do that, and that now it is needed more than ever.  

If we are to cope with the demands of a future world and a continuous uncertainty whilst processing what we have been through, the question is not why must we retreat, but simply when do I next need to retreat?

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