Can you really do a group spiritual retreat and get what you need to get out of it? Isn’t it counter intuitive? Isn’t a retreat about getting away from routine and simplifying? Does being in a group just turn it into a social event? Or maybe an intellectual event? Or maybe it’s uplifting, but not necessarily transformative? I know. I get this question all the time. If the event is well planned, you certainly can get transformation with a group. Here are some tips on how to make that happen.
No Care Taking!
The most important thing is that you must not take care of anyone else! If you are a natural giver, this may be a bit of a challenge. It’s normal to feel compassion. We want to reach out and help others. This takes us out of our own experience. The moment you start taking care of someone else, your process stops. It can take hours or even days for things to gel, so give yourself the space to let that happen. Let your retreat be about you.
Witness With Acceptance
One way that you and your fellow retreaters can grow is witnessing with acceptance. What that means is, if someone is having an experience, witness it. Hold the space for them to feel what they feel and do what they are doing. No commenting. No judging. Don’t soothe or fix. Just listen with an open heart. If there is something there for you, you’ll receive it. Since we’re all a part of the same whole, there is almost always something in it for you.
Take Care of Your Own Needs
If you’re hungry, eat. When you’re tired, rest. You don’t have to entertain anyone, or play nice. Everyone has different needs for social time and alone time. When everyone takes care of their own needs, the group can always be its best.
Stay in a Space of Gratitude
I always tell people who are traveling with me to expect the unexpected. When it shows up, see it as a blessing. That’s an example of staying in a space of gratitude. This is more than just seeing the glass as half full. Life is always a blend of light and dark. If you only see darkness, your life is going to be pretty gloomy. If you always see light, you’re probably blind sided a lot! We can’t change a lot of what happens outside of ourselves, but we can always choose to receive it with gratitude. Look for the learning and the love and you will see it. I’ve seen some really crabby, inflexible people grow tremendously by just accepting this one little guideline.
Be Open to New Experiences
The whole point of going on a retreat is to help you relax and let go of something and/or open to a new experience. If you aren’t open minded, chances are, you’re wasting your time. If you already know everything, what’s the point of being there? Hear people out. Try new things. Be willing to be surprised. Make some space for new things to come in.
Take It Easy
Doing growth work can take a lot out of you. Make sure you get lots of sleep, drink lots of water, eat well, and have lots of down time. There is a lot going on on the energetic level that you may not be aware of. Give your body a chance to rest and digest.
Sometimes people think that doing a spiritual retreat means that you have to be all by yourself so that you don’t get distracted. Often people who are on the same path as you are not a distraction, but en enhancement. You’re bound to have some questions. You can ask them since they are doing the same thing that you are. You’re also likely to have some profound breakthroughs. Who else could understand it but someone who was right there? Some thing are also better in a group, like energy work or rituals, because the energy is stronger when there is more people. So, if you are wondering if you would be losing out by having a group spiritual retreat, I say go for it. As long as you take care of yourself and maintain healthy boundaries, I think you will find it more than you ever imagined.