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Rains: The Magic of Retreats

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Recently on a retreat I led for business owners I had someone offhandedly mention that they could not remember a time that they had ever intentionally been alone as an adult. 

They did, however, remember many times in their childhood when they would spend a lot of time outdoors, alone, lost in their thoughts and imagination. They remembered those times being very rejuvenating and life giving. But now, he said he couldn’t even go to the bathroom without one of the kids banging on the door trying to get attention. 

He told me later while we were hiking that he didn’t even know how to spend time alone. It was almost as if he wouldn't know what to do if he was alone. At a certain point in our hike I said, “You go that way and I’ll go this way and we’ll meet up at the main camp whenever you get back. The very first step toward practicing intentional solitude is simply to be alone with your thoughts. See you in a bit.”

I got back to the main camp and waited for him. And waited. And waited. At one point I was wondering if I should go and check on him. Eventually, he emerged from the woods and back to the main camp. I asked him how it went. 

“I just found this overhang and sat on a rock for 20 minutes. It was amazing!” 


Take a Beat

Intentional rest in solitude is the birthplace of inspiration. Great leaders throughout history and from around the globe have strategically practiced solitude. From Moses to Gandhi, Jesus to Martin Luther King Jr., Churchill to Lincoln—there has not been one great world leader who has not spent significant time in solitude and deep reflection. Solitude is the grist mill for great ideas, rejuvenation and clarity. 

And yes, there is a great paradox here! To accomplish much we must first rest. And to lead others well we need to often be alone. 

In addition to rest, we also explored the idea of rejuvenation. I love the word rejuvenation! It literally means to be made young again. “Re” is the prefix that means again. And “juven” is where we get our word juvenile or young one. How do we rejuvenate? On the retreats that I lead I encourage everyone to think about what they did in their childhood that made them feel alive. If we can tap into those things that made us feel alive when we were young, perhaps that will provide clues to what will make us feel young and fully alive again.  

For me I often reflect that as a child I was outside, typically playing or hiking in the woods. Then it was making trails and jumps and going through the woods fast on my BMX bike. As I got older I graduated to motorcycles and my trips through the woods got faster and faster. Eventually I got my driver’s license and just had to have a convertible! I found a 1969 Olds 442 ragtop and restored it—with much help from my dad and my dad’s team at his shop—over the summer before my senior year in high school. I used to love to take Sunday drives through local parks. 

I also tried to see how fast it could go. Let’s just say I was chased but never caught. In short, what I realized in all that was that I really like to go fast in nature. When that dawned on me about 10 years ago, I immediately bought a motorcycle. I nicknamed it my “two-wheel therapy.” It turned out that riding motorcycles makes me feel young again.

How do you find rest in solitude? What did you do when you were young that made you feel alive? I would love to hear from you! Email me and let me know. And if you’re looking for some time away we’d love to have you on one of our retreats.   


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