Ask a girlfriend what they are doing for vacation, and you are likely to be immediately corrected. They are not going on vacation this year! This year they are off to take a retreat and often it is an all female retreat. This is especially likely if your girlfriend is close to or over 40 years old. Perhaps women in this age group are particularly attracted to retreat experiences because they are finally in a place where they can re-examine their lives. And many of them are wanting a change.
It could be that they are considering what is next in their career, or be complete with having or not having children. In early mid-life, relationships and jobs can shift, and now a retreat can be a path to something new during a time of transition.
The reality is that our world can be very challenging for women. With feminism under our belt, we are determined to be educated, professionally and personally successful, sexy, and available to everyone in our lives. I don’t know a single woman who has taken herself off the hook for “doing it all.” If we ever stop to catch our breath and look around, we may find ourselves in a place where we can question it all. And that is often when we become women who retreat into retreats.
Most people consider a vacation a luxury and a time for mindless play. Perhaps that is why the retreat is becoming fashionable among women. While they want some play and relaxation, these women are on a mission to find something bigger in their own lives. And though retreats can be pricy, for many women, taking a retreat is not considered a luxury item. Instead retreat taking has become a part of their ritual self-care, carefully scheduled into their yearly calender.
When I have asked women why they are choosing retreats over traditional vacations, they tell me that they are feeling a need to step out of their everyday lives and come to a place where they can learn to feel free to expand their bodies, minds, hearts, and spirits. Some want to take chances and move out of their comfort zone in a safe, guided environment. Many women are seeking the Divine within themselves and often each other. They are using their vacation time to explore some aspect of themselves that may have remained unexplored before coming to an understanding of what a women’s retreat can do for them.
Retreats are about going deeper, and create an opportunity for us to explore new ways of being and to consider changes we might want to bring into our lives. When women go on retreat they are often seeking a new perspective.
Sure, we can get some of this while on vacation, perhaps even at Disneyland, but the intentional questing retreat holds a different purpose in the lives of women. When women go on retreat they are making a statement about investing in themselves. Women are retreating to places that often support them in places of questioning their life’s purpose, or an aspect of their life like their sexuality, spirituality, or wellness. Some go on retreat to get a fresh view on their career paths, let go of habits or self limiting beliefs, or even seek answers to heal life’s challenges.
Women are retreating for so many reasons, but the upswing in women taking retreats is certainly a sign that we are finally learning to give back to ourselves in real and meaningful ways.