A healing retreat is a specific time you take for yourself in order to detoxify and rejuvenate your physical body, and often times your mind as well. In years past, when the air was cleaner and eating organic was the norm because that was all there was, regular physical detoxing might not have been as important to maintain good health. Times have changed, however:
- According to Herbert L. Needleman, M.D. and Philip J. Landrigan, M.D., authors of Raising Children Toxic Free, “since 1950, at least 70,000 new chemical compounds have been invented and dispersed into our environment. Only a fraction of these have been tested for human toxicity.”
- According to the American Lung Association, “as more toxic chemicals have been introduced to our everyday environment in greater amounts over the last 20 to 30 years, the level of toxins stored in dipose tissues (fat cells) of our bodies have risen. Bioaccumulation studies have shown that some toxins store in our bodies for life. Greater and greater amounts are being stored at younger ages. One study showed that in the fat of 100% of the people tested was 1,4-Dichlorobenzene, a chemical found in most household deodorizers and room fresheners.”
It is a sad fact that we now live in a highly toxic world. Eating organic and using all-natural personal and household products will certainly help, but even living squeaky-clean doesn’t guarantee that you will be immune to the effects of toxicity in the air, water and soil. For example, even though air quality in the U.S. has greatly improved since the implementation of the first Clean Air Act in 1950’s, the EPA still states that nearly 60 million “short tons” of carbon monoxide is pumped into the atmosphere each year.
There ARE things you can do to keep yourself healthy and vibrant amidst all the gunk—and a big part of that is the regular practice some time off periodic or seasonally to detox and recharge. Resources for doing this abound, with meditation centers, retreat centers and hotels offering pre-packaged retreat experiences for yoga, tai chi, detoxing, Ayurvedic, spa treatment and more. Of course, the price for these retreats runs the gamut, ranging from hundreds to thousands of dollar, not including airfare. A great online resources for information on over 2,000 mostly-healing retreat experiences is Retreat Finder.
If you are like most folks, spending a big chunk of change every few months to jet off to a pre-arranged healing retreat might be just a wee bit beyond of your budget. Don’t discourage, however. You CAN plan and DO a simple healing retreat in the comfort of your own home (or someone else’s) and still reap the benefits of taking time out to heal, re-energize and recharge for physical vitality. All you need is time, space, a few specific health-related supplies and the right mindset─ and your set!
The tips below are designed for creating a simple detoxification and rejuvenating retreat for a relatively healthy individual. If you are undergoing a health crisis or have a major health condition such as cancer or diabetes, consult your medical practitioner before starting any detoxification program.
Step # 1: Set Your Intention and then Let Go. In planning any retreat (or any major even in your life for that matter), setting an intention is the most important factor for success. The next most important thing is to let it go. This may sound contradictory but the message is: be clear and intentional in what you want. And then, don’t cling to it; let it manifest in its own way. Says the late, great Dr. Wayne Dyer:
“You have to just be. You have to let go. You have to allow. You have to be free and make this your consciousness…Basically, what you would see is a frequency (of energy) that manifests itself through the process of giving, of allowing, of offering and of serving. It asks nothing back.”
Here are some questions that may help you focus your healing retreat:
Why do you want to give yourself the gift of taking some time for healing?
What specifically do you want to focus on (for example, stomach issues, back issues, eating right, etc.)? How will taking this time to focus on your own health allow you to better help others?
How will you incorporate what you learn on your retreat into your everyday life?
#2: Make the Time. The next most important factor after intention in preparing for your healing retreat is to make the time for it. Many health experts suggest a 3-day detox with the turn of every season (winter to spring, spring to summer, etc.) and a 1-week to 2-week annual cleanse. The good news, however, is that a LOT can be accomplished in terms of detoxification and rejuvenation in a single weekend. Remember that ANY amount of time you can spend focusing on health is better than nothing. If you are going to be on a juicing or fasting diet during your retreat, start on Tuesday or Wednesday before with eating simply (no dairy, sugar or gluten, vegan is best) to prepare your body for the fast or liquid diet. Then begin your weekend regimen on Friday night and go through Sunday evening to get the most out of your experience. Talk to your family and friends about your plans and the stipulations for your retreat. Will you interact with others during this time, even if they are eating foods that you may be avoiding during this time? Will you be conducting your regular activities during your retreat (not recommended)? Are you okay with the TV being on in the living room, for example or do you want simple peace and quiet? A retreat is usually defined as a “time away” either physically, or (if that is not possibly), a break from the normal routine. The more you can slow down and unplug from electronics, errands and even conversations for this short time, the better. Be clear with yourself about what you want this time to be like. Then tell family and friends about your plans and stick to it. COST: FREE
Step #3: Find the space. Evaluate your home situation and take a look at your calendar. If you are a member of a family or you have roommates, is there a date in the near future when everyone will be gone from the house (or at least the loudest ones)? Scheduling your retreat to occur during these days is ideal. If this is not possible and your current housing situation resembles something closer to Grand Central Station than a peaceful oasis, take a look at alternative locations for your retreat. Is there a friend’s house you can utilize for the weekend? Maybe a family cabin or someone who may be in need a housesitter or pet sitter weekend?
Get creative and be flexible with where you will be for your healing retreat. You may find that you need a lot less than you think in order to accomplish your healing goals. If worse comes to worse, try a site like Air B’n B for super low-cost housing options. Because you are dealing with the actual home owners and renters on a site like this, a lot of times you can work a deal with the individual who is offering the abode, especially when it is off-season. COST: FREE to $100
Step #4: Get Some Healing Retreat Supplies. Now that you have a clear intention and focus for your healing retreat as well as the time and the space, there are just a few supplies that I suggest buying beforehand:
- Healing Foods: The kind of healing retreat you plan on doing will determine what foods you will purchase. Either way, plan it out beforehand, along with your budget for shopping. Try your best to go 100% organic if you can. Some essentials could include calming and detoxing teas like dandelion and chamomile and items such as lemons, apple cider vinegar or aloe vera juice for adding to juice or water. Lots of fresh greens and low-sodium broths to make gentle, cleansing soups, such as bone broth, is a good choice as well. For any kind of healing retreat, less is often more, since the main idea is to give your digestive system, as well as your whole body and mind, a break from the daily grind. Some good resources for different types of healing and detoxing diets while on a healing retreat include the book The Plan by Lyn-Genete Recitas and Joe Cross’s 3-Day Weekend Juicing Cleanse.
If you are sensitive to fruit sugars, (i.e. if you suffer from candida), try doing a smoothie cleanse instead.
COST: $50 to $100 dollars
- Enema: As scary and uncomfortable as it sounds, folks in countries like India have been doing enema as part of their overall health practice for thousands of years. Gentle enemas that include distilled water and lemon juice or aloe vera will simply “unstick” the first layers of gunk that gets trapped in the lining of your colon (sorry if that is gross but, let’s face it, if you eat the Standard American Diet, that layer is gonna be there).
Daily enemas during your retreat will make you feel energized, refreshed and lighter. In fact, you will probably find that you shed a few pounds in the process. Coffee enemas and enemas using specific herbs can have the effect of cleansing the liver and other detoxification and gut-related organs as well. There are approximately 90,000 new cases of colorectal cancer each year and close to 50,000 deaths from this form of cancer. Why? It is specifically because of build-up of matter in that part of the digestive tract that begins to putrefy and form toxins. COST for At-Home Enema Kit from Walgreen’s: $10.99
- Mineral Baths: If you have access to a bathtub while on your retreat, that is great! A daily healing bath with moderately hot water using Epsom salts and other natural mineral salts are a great way to relax, detox and raise your core body temperature, which will increase immunity. In addition, consider getting a gentle dry skin brush to massage out toxins on the skin before or after the bath. Then light some candles, put on some soft music and slide into luxury!
COST for a 2 pound bag of Detox Mineral Salts from the San Francisco Salt Company : $14.99. Tampico Dry Skin Brush through Vitacost: $7.98
A retreat that focuses on personal healing on the physical level will help you heal from stress. It will give your bod system a needed break and help to detoxify as well. Most importantly, it will give you a brand new perspective that you can take with you into your work week and, perhaps, into your life as a whole.
Have you ever taken a personal healing retreat? Do have a specific diet, detox or healing plan that you follow? Share it in the comments section below!