In my twenties  I went on a silent retreat at a convent that my spiritual director recommended.  This was the very beginning of a contemplative journey that I am so glad to have begun.

During this time, I was at a crossroads and I needed this chance to step away and go inward, a skill at which I was certainly not practiced.   I met with a priest whom I had never met before.  I was among people I did not know. Truly, it was a  rich experience that I will never forget.  I was, indeed, able to make a very difficult decision about my life during those days.

However, after this retreat, I recall calling every single family member and friend who would answer their phone and talking on the telephone for HOURS.  I don’t think I even talked about my experience at the retreat – actually, I have no idea what I talked about.  I know now that I was frenetically trying to reconnect to others and to my world.

I was also left feeling that this is what retreats and personal growth are like –  lonely and disconnected.  At the time, I conflated the experience of being physically alone with the feeling of loneliness and the pain of disconnection from others.

About a year later I went on another retreat at a place where the hosts knew me, loved me, understood my intentions, and silently held space for my experience.  This retreat was still silent, it was still self-guided, and I was still physically alone most of the time.

But I was not lonely and I felt a deep sense of connection to those hosting me.  I felt held and seen and understood.  I recently re-read some of the journal entries I made at those two retreats.  The second retreat brought so much more peace and joy and hope – of course!   I was regulated and connected with those who were holding me in their hearts while I grappled, grieved, and sought solace, guidance, and rest.  I left feeling a deep connection to myself, others, and the world around me.

Two Kinds of Retreats

There are a couple of different definitions of the word “retreat.” The first is to fall back or withdraw. This is what happened when I went to that first retreat. I felt isolated, lonely and disconnected.

But the definition I like is a period of time set aside for rest, meditation, or study – away from the usual daily distractions – where you can regulate your nervous system and reconnect with self. This is how my second retreat felt. It was a purposeful getaway aimed at self reflection, healing, and personal growth.

Most importantly, I was still attuned to the people and the setting I was in, while making space to work on my mental, physical and emotional wellbeing.  Likewise, my hosts were attuned to me.

This is the kind of retreat we’ve created at Natural Lifemanship Headquarters.

Nourished: NL Self Care Retreats

Stress, burnout, and disconnection from our inner selves is all too common — especially among helping professionals who already carry so much.

Since the very beginning, we’ve always felt that NL’s headquarters in Brenham, Texas, is more than just a place to train. It’s your place to unplug and unwind while we hold space for you. And unlike the first retreat I went on, our Nourished Self-Care Retreats are not about withdrawal or disconnection.   It’s exactly the opposite, actually.

We start by welcoming you and giving you a tour of the property so you know how you can use the  space.  Then you’ll have an opportunity to set intentions for your stay with us – to be seen, felt, and heard.  After that, you will guide your own schedule and experience, but we will hold space for you and give you time away from other demands to care for and invest in yourself in a very purposeful way.   At the end of your time with us, you’ll meet with one of our team members  again to reflect on the experience and decide what to carry with you as you travel home.

You belong here, with us

I love this quote from Wendell Berry:

“A community is the mental and spiritual condition of knowing that the place is shared, and that the people who share the place define and limit the possibilities of each other’s lives. It is the knowledge that people have of each other, their concern for each other, their trust in each other, the freedom with which they come and go among themselves.”

~ Wendell Berry, A Long-Legged House

Being a member of a community, like Natural Lifemanship, is not just about belonging to a group or a people.  It’s also about belonging to a place.

When you’re going through a process of personal transformation and renewal, there are parts of that journey you need to take on your own.  But you do not have to withdraw or disconnect to be on your own.  When you are on a solitary leg of your journey, it is of utmost importance that you still have a compassionate witness to your experience.

As a part of Natural Lifemanship’s beloved community, you have a home here at NL Headquarters always. It’s a home for training and learning and connecting. But it’s also your home for healing and rebuilding and rising from the ashes.

When it’s time for you to retreat, we want to invite you home, to your place. You will be surrounded by a community that loves you while having the space – and place – for growth.

Come stay with us.