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Sometimes, when we get ourselves deeply enough into self-destructive patterns, it becomes almost impossible to repair the damage without taking ourselves out of the circumstances that may have helped to lead us to this point. Recovery retreats offer this psychological and spiritual airlift out of our regular contexts and into a neutral space where it is safe to begin the process of rescuing ourselves.
All of us develop ways of coping over time. For most of us what may have been appropriate at one time no longer serves us.
Despite this, many of us tend to stay locked into old patterns of "coping" that are no longer appropriate or effective. As our coping mechanisms fail many find themselves seeking shelter through maladaptive behaviors and addictions. We become enslaved to these repetitive cycles that serve to increase rather than diminish our pain.
These destructive patterns have enormous momentum stemming, as they do, from our initial reactions to trauma. Our first experiences of pain often have to do with primary relationships and these same relationships tend to define our behaviors in later years. There are times when our whole environment seems to conspire to keep us trapped in a continuous chain of inappropriate actions and reactions.
We may know the theory of self-recovery but have grave difficulty enacting any of it in our present circumstances. This is where recovery retreats come in. Even though they remove us from the tensions of our daily life they are not so much an escape from as they are a journey towards that which is life giving.
Time out gives us the space to consider our responses and reactions to our life challenges. Spiritual development offers us the freedom to expand into the sacred potential of our life's journey. Anger, fear, unhealthy relationships and chemical or emotional addictions sometimes call an unnatural halt to this expansion.
When you enter a recovery retreat you are effectively entering a world untrammeled by the old and the ineffective. Within this safe haven you are given the tools to reinvent yourself.
Retreat centers are normally located in places of serene scenic beauty so that just the setting alone exudes the peace and stillness that rejuvenates the spirit. Daily routines are a gentle alternating rhythm of time alone in self-reflection and time with others in relationship.
The average day begins with meditation and includes individual and group therapy as well as time for gentle restorative physical exercise and creative play. The staff at the retreat center is dedicated to providing an environment where you feel safe and comfortable enough to tackle the rigorous matter of your own rescue.
Many recovery retreat programs are based on the classic, world renowned Twelve Steps that has led many a lost soul back to a life that is not only worth living but celebrating as well.
Participants are expected to arrive with the intention of cooperating with the tenets of the Twelve Step program. The initial requirement is a commitment to the honest and courageous confrontation of the problems of each participant. Problems that cannot be honestly acknowledged cannot be worked on.
For this reason it is important that participants be there voluntarily and not just "because mom wants it". Doing it for someone else can still yield surprising results if there is openness to the process. Many people in these situations are hurt and afraid. They may need time to feel safe enough to expose themselves to the rigors of self-examination.
Because the staff at recovery retreats work exclusively with people in recovery they are well aware of the various different stages of honesty and willingness. They know that it is a step-by-step process. All they require is that you turn up, not just once but every day. This takes no more than an ounce of faith and hope on the part of the participant. This is enough to work on.
Recovery retreats work on many different levels starting from the seemingly mundane right to the transcendent. The seeming mundanity of routine is important. It creates a structure that underpins the sometimes chaotic exploration of the world of thoughts and emotion.
This rigorous self-examination is balanced and held by a routine that works like a comforting mantra. Good healthy food and fresh air supplement the routine and are a way of emphasizing the importance of self-care on every level. The individual is precious and the simple lesson of caring for it is a profound one.
Starting the day with a regular meditation teaches the valuable lesson that a day deserves to begin in the right way. Meditation is simply a time to be with God and oneself. The meditative path is a miraculous element in the process of recovery. It allows a progressive opening to Spirit and is the enactment of the biblical instruction to "Be still and know that I am God".
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