When and Why We Need a Retreat

When and why we need a retreat Em Capito, LCSWEvery July, I head south to Zion backcountry for a solo retreat in a tiny a-frame cabin with a patio that overlooks ponderosa pines stretching out to the horizon.

The time and distance from everyday life creates space; room for perspective and a chance to notice where I am on my hero’s journey.

After playing hard around Zion, Kanab, and even venturing over to Page, Arizona, to paddle on Lake Powell, I was ready for some quiet contemplation.

“…most people come to the desert for something else and then they strip themselves of everything but water and their thoughts.”
– Ellen Meloy, Seasons

This year has been surprising; marked by a dramatic shift into a new season of my life, with the attendant and at-time bewildering ripple effect into my decisions.

A former self would have fought valiantly to hold to the established course, resisting the strange call into the unknown.

In retrospect, it seems so much more absurd to ignore my own evolution and the inevitable march of change all around me.

Accepting that I cannot predict or control the future, I trust my gut, and I have yet to regret where it has led me.

Retreating in the Utah Desert Em Capito, LCSWFinding that internal compass required much time away, stripped of everything but bare necessity and my own exposed narratives; a pause in the frenzied momentum carrying me forward from bearings that no longer bore relevance.

Intuition is our most powerful ally in living a meaningful life, becoming more resilient in the aftermath of trauma or loss, and finding our way to holistic mind-body-soul wellness.

That’s because we already have all of our own answers. We are the only ones who take the journey we are on, and no amount of well-meaning guidance is going to replace the work of forging our own path forward.

First, we must learn to distinguish intuition from the childhood-installed voices in our heads (mom, dad, society), as well as from our own justifications or excuses. Then, we must take the brave leap of faith to trust ourselves.

The cues to retreat can be subtle or stop you in your tracks.

When you feel inexplicably resistant, apathetic or anxious, perhaps consider these emotional pings as invitations to retreat into the wilderness, to tune in to your next call to adventure.

Then, in the midst of all that fear and uncertainty, say yes.

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