Why We Retreat: Perspectives from Kripalu's CEO

September 27, 2021

Why do we retreat, why bother? For some reason this piece has taken me a long time to write, I feel hesitancy, like when I step into a new yoga pose or I am trying to work with a new practice. It feels edgy and the terrain is uncertain. I can feel my tendency to want to make it perfect creeping in. I want to make this blog perfect because I want you to fall in love with the ritual and power of retreat. I already know that as soon as we post it live on the website I am going to think of so many other things to say. I guess that is what retreat can be like in many ways if we let it. It is a time of letting go of certainty, of letting go of that drive for perfection, of control, and stepping into a container that can hold us as we shed our skins and allow new discoveries to be made.

I grew up going on retreats from a young age, my mum and dad were into it and I got an incredible foundation in living in community with intention. At Kripalu, it feels so similar. We want people to retreat with us at the center in the Berkshires and online. Wherever you are we want you to feel like you can retreat in the Kripalu container. A place where you will be guided on a journey of discovery, to know new things, to remember old things, and to live in deeper alignment with your inner knowing.

One aspect of retreat that we emphasize is about stepping back from the excess of our daily lives. That is the inspiration for so much of what we offer at Kripalu, simple living, healthy and delicious food, digital minimalism, transformational experiences, all happening in community, surrounded by land that is truly healing. That idea of simplifying so that we can experience what is essential, what we really need. This can help us have an experience of being free of the many attachments we have in life, even if for a few days so that we can see with new eyes, experience with new perspective. It always amazes me that when I simply slow down and allow the fast-moving train of life to come to a pause then so many of my “problems” and questions also come to a rest. I am often left with a simple peace and contentment. We want you to have an experience of how we can live our lives if we put some important things into place and let go of the “shoulds”. How well we can feel after only a short amount of time.

But retreat is not about just switching off for a few days in a beautiful setting. It is about investing in yourself, refilling your well, and then having the energy to invest in others. The potential of a retreat is to fall in love with ourselves again. To become reconnected with ourselves, with nature, with community, and with Source. From this place of remembering we can move in our lives with more resilience, more alignment, more embodiment, more love, more listening. A retreat can allow us to start or strengthen our practice because without practice the journey of discovery seems to be much bumpier. Practice is the key to sustaining the power of retreat long after we have left the retreat center.

Robert Mulhall is the CEO of Kripalu. He is passionate about service and deeply curious about how people can facilitate sustainable transformation to enable more peace, justice, and freedom in our world.

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