Why do retreats work so well?
Posted on 20th March 2021
"The truth is, the only ‘medicine’ that works for everyone is connection: meaningful and authentic connection with ourselves, with each other, and with our planet."
The Seek Healing Project.
From years of working in the mental health field there has always been one common factor everywhere I have worked.
This has been that connection with others has been fundamental and key in people's recovery from difficulties in their lives.
I used to work in a therapeutic community in a prison, I then worked with a company who believed very strongly that recovery was built on connection and so developed social groups where people could get together, engage in activities together, have a good old chat, but it worked. People kept coming back and their lives improved as a result.
Over the years, myself, I have been involved in various social groups and recovery groups and this has been so imprtant in my recovery.
So in February 2017 when I was left jobless I had a strong instinct that retreats were the way I wanted to go with development of my services as a therapist because as well as providing my attendees with key skills and techniques to manage anxiety and depression they would get the opportunity to connect with other people who were having similar difficulties.
“When we connect around what is broken we connect as a human being we heal ourselves from the compulsive self destruction that was our response to the pain of disconnection" Rachel Wurzman
There is an area called social neurochemistry which is really new and upcoming in the neuroscience world. Social neurochemistry had discovered that the striatum, a part of our brain, is linked to our production of oxytocin. Oxytocin helps us feel loved and cared for (you know that warm fluffy feeling when you give someone a hug?).
When this is not present we feel that deep sense of lonliness.
Just knowing you are not alone, getting support from others, being heard and understood for what you have to say. Getting reassurance, love and a sense of connection will produce this oxytocin in the brain, removing that sense of loneliness and giving you permission as well to 'be yourself' and talk of your truth.
This may be something we find difficult to do with our friends and family or partners as there may be an agenda on their part, too much history or we may be in caring roles ourselves for these people.
On a retreat you can completely focus on yourself.
Historically retreat participants have met up again together following the retreat to connect with each other, go out for a meal or they come back and join the retreat again to connect with each other. People return not for what is taught on the retreat but for the connection with other people who are struggling with similar issues to themselves. It simply stops them feeling alone anymore.
The retreat environment is such a huge dose of connection all in one that I believe is fundamental in starting this process of re-wiring that broken part of your brain that feels alone and isolated.
If you are interested in joining a retreat or finding out more please go to my retreats page where there is more information for you.
"Retreats help you calm your mind, feel better and healthier within yourself and light your inner zest again without feeling alone anymore". Vanessa Wallace
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