A deep healing retreat takes this concept and kicks it up a few notches. Its purpose is to go after accumulations of issues or longstanding problems that require more focus and time to heal than just an hour here or there, but if left untended could develop into chronic or irreversible ailments.
That could be the ache in my shoulder, which used to go away after my monthly bodywork session, but now persists. It could also be a physical symptom with an emotional component, like mounting dissatisfaction with my life circumstances accompanied by increasing fatigue or aches in certain parts of my body.
It could be the old neck injury from that car accident years ago acting up, causing constant stiffness and pain, as well as quiet desperation and a feeling of hopelessness.
Whatever it may be, when the signals of body or soul keep getting louder, it may be high time to stop carrying on as usual, and listen.
Healing retreats are by no means a new concept, but have been around in one form or another since ancient times. Most cultures are familiar with healing pilgrimages to sacred places of power. Often these journeys combine elements of a vision quest with the search for healing from an ailment deemed incurable by regular standards. Healing pilgrimages always imply a change in physical location. Healing retreats can be done with or without much external travel, but often have a certain aspect of inward journeying, of getting in touch with our innermost being, while unplugging from our day-to-day world. The unplugging creates space and time to zero in on a specific goal or issue without distraction.
A healing retreat can be something as down to earth as spending time in a rehab center after knee surgery. It could also mean a self-designed period of time with a clearly defined purpose dedicated to healing and renewal.
I remember my mother’s ongoing issues with (sometimes severe) back pain. She was a teacher in Europe, and periodically got a prescription for intensive physical rehab. The locations varied, but always included access to thermal hot springs combined with physical therapy, targeted therapeutic massage, and other beneficial treatments. Ah, the good old days! Imagine feeling like you are worthy of that level of care as a contributing member of society. She always came back glowing, refreshed, inspired, and ready to get back to work and tackle life again. My siblings and I benefitted from that too, as did, no doubt, her students.
So how can mere mortals nowadays go on a healing retreat and pay for it all by themselves? We need to get creative. Here are a couple of options I came up with in the past: The smaller version was a five-day retreat at home, where I added two days before and after an existing free day to minimize expenses and unpaid time off. After determining my treatment goal and focus I scheduled therapy sessions on the second and fourth day of that time, shopped for groceries beforehand and made sure I was caught up on necessary chores. Each day of my retreat I spent some time in nature, ate wholesome meals, included quiet and contemplative time, and read inspiring literature. The activities could vary depending on personal preference. The point is to choose some that truly feed your body, spirit and soul in a positive way, and enhance the outcome of the retreat.
A bigger version of the above, taking five days off between two weekends can make for a total of nine days of retreat. Wow! The third, fifth and seventh days could be treatment days. It may even be possible to take advantage of special offers for bundled treatments. With two days on either end, travel could be an option, to unplug even more from day-to-day life.
These are just examples to inspire your creativity. The sky is the limit here. With a prescription for physical therapy I could start a new habit of incorporating beneficial exercises into my days, and receive complementary treatments on the days between therapy sessions. Those could include bodywork, counseling, or lifestyle coaching, depending on the issues at hand. I could also time my retreat to take advantage of an art, music or movement class offered.
Feeding body and soul doesn’t have to be expensive. The best time to start is now.
Ata Susanne Morse has been providing therapeutic massage and bodywork in Moab since 2009. She can be reached by phone or text at 435-260-2874 and via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org