What is a Retreat?

What is a Retreat?

I recently spent four days in a log cabin in a forested region of the Durmitor National Park in Montenegro. It was sunset when we arrived, the cabin was surrounded by an orange hue as darkness descended. We entered the cabin and had this feeling of immediate peace. This was suddenly replaced by a feeling of panic. There was no wifi! To make things worse, we had no mobile data either. Montenegro is not in the EU, our Croatian mobile became a glorified camera. 

How would I cope without constantly checking our WearActive social media? 

How was I going to show everyone, immediately, how wonderful my life was?

My panic quickly descended further into complete manic mode. There was only one pan for cooking! No oven, no grill.  Just one electric hob and one pan….take a minute to digest that.  

After unpacking, searching for an extra pan, turning my mobile off and on again (you never know!), I started to realise that I had no option but to accept the situation.  

As the evening developed a strange calmness appeared to surround me. I opened my book that I had taken with me on a few trips but, being distracted, never finished.  We threw chopped up veg in the pan plus some other stuff, added the lid, and just let it do its thing. 

By morning, and the realisation that our assessment of the day's weather was going to just be a case of poking our heads outside, we truly began to relax. 

We run a holiday business with which our tagline is ‘relaxingly active’, a motto we aim to achieve each day. We are often much better at the active part and struggle with the relaxing aspect. For those four days in the cabin we relaxed, we really relaxed! 

It was at this point that I realised that our holiday had actually become a ‘retreat’

A retreat in Durmitor National Park, Montenegro
When my holiday became a 'retreat' in Montenegro

So what is a ‘retreat’?

Does it need to be an indulgent experience that involves full body massages, health gurus and detox smoothies? 

‘Retreat is the act of giving up and withdrawing, or a time away in a quiet and secluded place where you can relax.’  This is the common definition of the word retreat. For some the word may conjure up thoughts of a luxurious spa in the countryside. For others it may be a remote isolated cabin with no distractions and a change in your normal daily routine. If you are taking the definition literally, it could even be retreating to the bathroom, locking yourself in, and having a long soak in the bath tub without any distractions. 

What do you think of when you hear the word, retreat?

Escapism, a place where you can be with like minded people, a safe place or a haven? Is it an experience that helps you feel rested, rejuvenated, and ready to take on the world? Do you only consider a “retreat” as an opportunity to connect more deeply with yourself? Whatever our personal thoughts on the word retreat, we should strive to find balance in our busy lives and take time to occasionally escape our usual surroundings and routine.

A yoga retreat in the Austrian Alps
A yoga retreat in the Austrian Alps

Personalise your ‘retreat’

Working on the basis that you have established that a change in routine is required to reboot your system, plan a retreat with the aim to heal the part of you that is most in need. 

For some this may be about taking time out to focus on health and wellness. Time to rebalance with a week of yoga, or a reviving detox therapy. 

With a huge surge in the diversity of the wellness industry there has never been an easier time to find the perfect retreat option. 

There are group retreats that focus on bringing together similar minded individuals, like yoga, snowshoe hiking, or an artistic retreat. 

There are silent retreats, with time to focus on personal inner reflection. 

Retreats that are based in the mountains to escape the crowds and immerse yourself in nature or retreats surrounded by forestry. 

City dwellers may especially enjoy retreats that focus on ‘rewiring’ the body using a combination of nature, adventure, exercise, rest and mindfulness. Maybe a focus on food is what you fantasise about as the perfect way to spend your retreat time? Cooking classes, nutritional information or a mini break with healthier plant based meals. 

Once you have established what kind of retreat you are looking for, how much time you can commit and how much you have to finance it, there are endless possibilities. 

A Detox as part of a retreat
Maybe a weekend Detox retreat?

Manage the panic!

What if you cannot leave your house at the moment?

We are currently in a pandemic. We are in a daily cycle of lockdown or the threat of a lockdown. How can we possibly think of planning a retreat? 

What a retreat does is take you away from the routine that is causing you stress. Is there a way of creating a stay at home retreat. No doubt some families would love to consider a ‘silent retreat’ for the weekend! 

What about planning a retreat weekend at home with some friends. You spend one weekend cooking and delivering meals, suggesting movie options and making a 30 minute exercise routine for your friends, for them to plan your retreat weekend the following week. What about a digital free weekend? 

Another option is to plan for the future, when travel is something that is again encouraged. 

The travel industry, and small businesses that host retreat-like holidays, have been hit really hard at the moment. They are looking at ways to reassure the traveller and keep themselves in business. 

Find your perfect retreat option and check their cancellation and booking policy so you are still protected if COVID decides to have a hold over us for even longer!

We are looking forward to opening the doors to our guests at MoaAlm Mountain Retreat this Winter. 

We had spent lots of time debating whether or not to call MoaAlm a retreat. We didn't want to give the impression that we are the kind of place that encourages depriving someone of something to achieve a healthier version of you. 

We want MoaAlm to be a place of escapism, of creating new experiences in the mountains, to take people away from their daily routine. 

Laughing, eating and making new friends with like minded people is what we want from our ‘retreat’ experience. 

MoaAlm Mountain Retreat Austria
Taking time to relax.

Xania Wear, owner of WearActive, 'Relaxingly Active' holidays on the Croatian Island of Vis and in the mountains of East Tirol, Austria.