Explore Life Coaching, Patti Phillips

Anatomy of a Retreat


Dictionary definition:

“A period of withdrawing from the world around you.”

A retreat is about stepping away from your ordinary existence to listen and tune into your inner voice. Being in retreat allows you to be present in the moment and become more self-aware, to notice what lights you up and to focus on what contributes to your experience of life with a sense of peace, joy, and purpose. It’s about learning to trust what you feel as your truth, without the need for external validation. It’s a conscious decision to step away from the normal pattern of your life for a period of time, to honour your inner being and reconnect with your life purpose.


As a culture, we seem to be much more focused on the external aspects of life to define personal success; accomplishments, job status, owning things, physical appearance, social connections, money, and observable actions are the measure.

In general, we do not give value to the practice of being still, going within ourselves and finding comfort in “just being”.

Women in particular struggle to spend time with themselves and on themselves because they feel they are being selfish when they do so. They grow up being encouraged to put others first and they rarely take the time to figure out their own needs and desires. Over time, a woman may find herself completely lost and have no idea how to even begin to look inwards for wisdom and direction. As a result, it becomes a familiar habit to just follow the crowd and seek answers from others.

Acceptable forms of self-care for women are typically focused, again, on the external solutions. Buying clothes, beauty treatments, fitness activities, drinking wine, and prescription medications are all encouraged and freely spoken about. A woman who meditates, journals, expresses herself through art, or goes on a personal retreat is often seen as “woo-woo” which can lead to feeling misunderstood and isolated.


It takes a great amount of courage to take the step to make retreating an important part of your life.

  • It requires you to voice that you value your inner self and stand up against the norm of our society that is very focused on the external.
  • It requires you to say “no” to others and step away, for a time, from the pleasing and taking care of others.
  • It requires you to open yourself up to uncovering some things you may need to work on to be the best version of yourself.


  • Clear your schedule completely ahead of time so that you are freed up to participate and focus without guilt or distraction.
  • Get clear on the physical and emotional environment you need in order to feel safe, comfortable, and supported. With these components in place, it’s easier to step out of one’s comfort zone, knowing the support is there if needed.
  • Clarify your retreat intention and share it with others.
  • Consciously decide how much contact you want with the other people who are also on retreat. Be prepared to communicate and stick to your boundaries.
  • Get outdoors and into nature. Use your senses to connect with your environment and be open to any wisdom that is presented to you by nature.
  • Spend a significant amount of time in silence so you can be open to hearing your own inner voice.


Explore Life Coaching offers a variety of retreats for women in the area of personal growth, wellness, and life transitions. Check out the events to see what’s coming up.

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Comments (1)

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    Mel Morfitt


    I liked how you clarified what a Retreat is ‘not’ first of all, even though ‘get away’s are important. The intention to grow and expand ourselves is the real gem. Even though I have attended retreats to discover my own well-spring of knowledge/ wisdom inside, I find that it has been my ‘connection’ to others have magnified my experience. I look forward to other retreats you will be offering.


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