What’s the buzz with retreats? My experience with purposeful vacations

You may have noticed that retreats have become increasingly popular in recent years. But you may wonder: are they worth it? Let me share my personal experience with you.


How it all started…


I was about to finish my Master’s degree. At the same time, I started my first corporate job when my father got diagnosed with Colorectal cancer. Even though he had fully recovered, the cancer had spread again after a year and he died very suddenly within a week. Being next to him when he died was a profound experience for me which deeply influenced my path.


The first years after that, I was still trying to fit into the “normal” work system. I was set on pursuing a secure corporate career. I remember putting myself under immense pressure to fit in. But I always had the longing to be more myself and free spirited. I wanted less time at a desk and more time creating deeper connections with people.


More and more, I started asking myself existential questions: "Have I made the right decisions for me?" "How do I want to live?" "How do I find my purpose?" "Do I belong here?".


What helped me to find answers to those questions was to leave my day-to-day routines and take purposeful time-outs at least once per year. In 2016, I participated for the first time in a retreat in Portugal.



What a retreat is about


The word “retreat” has a Latin origin. From re “back” and trahere “to draw” comes the Latin word retrahere, meaning to “draw back, withdraw, call back.” In many cultures and religions, it has been a tradition for hundreds of years to take conscious time away from normal activities and duties.


You may think of a retreat as a place for spiritual people. A place where strange things that you don’t feel comfortable with happen. Traveling alone can also be daunting to some people. I would recommend you find a retreat where you trust the people who offer it. Find one where you have the chance to take part in activities that might be out of your comfort zone but feel exciting, not frightening.


In my experience, there is a wide range of retreats with different frameworks and themes. I very much enjoy being in a beautiful surrounding and close to nature with warm weather. I also like offerings of yoga and healthy, cleansing food. Furthermore, I want to be with an international group. A great agenda is wonderful as well as having lots of free time for other activities on your own, like surfing, resting or reading.


Following, I'm sharing some of the benefits of participating in a retreat versus a “normal” vacation.


Disconnect to reconnect with yourself

I recall so many moments during a retreat where the silence, the landscape and being fully present in the moment or in a conversation changed something inside me. I was able to hear my inner voice again. I started using these time outs to turn my phone off, journal and to go on walks on my own. Because I experienced fewer outside stimuli, I had space again to just be. In this increasingly fast-paced, noisy “bing” world, we need to detox from the constant connectedness to our phones. This way, we can connect again with the cycles of nature – which means connecting to ourselves.



Care-free travel

Instead of spending ridiculous amounts of money on a vacation, a retreat offers you a holistic experience. You don’t have to take care of anything. You don't have to worry about things like scheduling and reservations. You don't need to find locations and how to go from A to B to C . It’s nice to have someone take care of you and to be able to go with the retreat flow. The simplicity is what makes it rejuvenating.


Spoil your body & soul

The daily structure of the retreats I participated in was diverse. It included long coastal walks, being by the ocean, surfing (trying something new), yoga and healthy food. It also gave time to reflect and connect with people from all over the world (we shared one house). One week felt like 6 weeks of holidays. My body felt more open and stronger because of all the movement, oxygen and different kinds of food. And that’s why my mind was clearer, too. I was able to bring back my zen energy and new rituals too. For example, from the yoga practice to my work life, and brought them with me after the retreat had ended.



Build a tribe of like-minded, inspiring people

Retreating and traveling on your own is a life-changing experience. I also love to connect with people from all over the world and have a mix of solitude and community. During retreats, you have the chance to get to know like-minded people, new cultures and make friends. I met people in a week that I am still in contact with. That's because we shared deep conversations and memories we will never forget.


Create new patterns for your work life

Participating in the right retreat will help you to get distance and an “outside-in” perspective from your daily work life. I recommend you set an intention for participating in a retreat. It’s an investment in yourself. From what would you like to retreat? What change are you longing for?


It’s the perfect opportunity to investigate your values, where you are at the moment and where you would like to be. Every year, I have been joining at least one retreat, and every time I got more clarity and courage to take important decisions for my career path. For example, quitting my job and starting my own business at the beginning of 2019. Again, it’s a nice opportunity to grow your network, meet mentors and business buddies.


Ana Ana Portimão, Venue of the MARvellous Retreat
Ana Ana Portimão, Venue of the MARvellous Retreat

Are you ready for a purposeful vacation in 2022?

All the benefits I listed are the reason why I also want to create and share a retreat experience with you. I have been living in Portugal for some time now and cannot wait to show you how healing this place is.


If you long for deep, meaningful, and transformative time for yourself, please join us for the MARvellous retreat at the end of April this year. During the 8 days, you don't have to take care of anything. You will have your own private room in a dream venue and enjoy the spacious building with a terrace and pool. You will eat healthy vegan/vegetarian meals prepared by a private chef. You will get the chance to do yoga every day, experience forest bathing, coastal hikes, coaching workshops and so much more!


Find all the details about it and how to reserve your spot (only 3 remaining!) by clicking here.