Less Doing, More Being

Soulful Retreats
By Hatheway Rawlinson

Sometimes you need to lay down arms and surrender. Give yourself the time you need to find meaning in the ebb and flow of life’s challenges. We are here to give you full permission to put you first. A revolutionary concept, we know, but it is time you indulge in a contemplative, quiet and soulful retreat.

It can start practically as close as your backyard, at the Benedictine Holy Wisdom Monastery in Middleton, which offers a “Center Prayer II: Exploring the Dimensions” workshop to meditate on heart-centered compassion. Or partake in a personal retreat for up to three months in overnight lodging to reclaim the lost silence and balance of your life. Take the time to journal, browse through the monastery’s 4,500 volume library and walk along nature trails. Meet privately with a trained spiritual guide for counsel on life events as well as connect you with a higher power, yourself and others.

If you prefer to take a slightly longer jaunt, enjoy a day retreat at the Deer Park Buddhist Monastery in Oregon, to introduce yourself to Buddhist teachings about your life challenges through ideas like karma—how actions in life affect the future, and samsara—the cycle of birth, life and death. Find a cushioned seat in their meditation room to let go of all the negativity and release it into a sacred space. With regular weekly teachings and monthly pujas (worship) open to the public, all backgrounds and faiths are welcome.

A bit farther afield, find yourself on the shore of Lake Michigan in Racine for the Siena Retreat Center, to join a “Just Be” day of solitude or group mindfulness meditation. Meet for spiritual advisory by “listening to the heart of another,” a practice meant to cultivate personal growth and redeem a whole sense of self.

Travel north and stay overnight in a farmhouse in Bayfield at the Flowing Waters Retreat Center for a combination of writing and art alongside massage therapy, yoga and meditation, all devoted to rest, renewal and healing. Choose from a variety of retreat packages, including a customized package deal, allowing you to mix and match activities to craft the perfect weekend getaway.

Another option of stay is the Artha Sustainable Living Center in Amherst where you can more deeply connect with nature and learn how to better live in harmony with the environment. Investigate the healing properties of herbs on physical and emotional wellness—and experience sustainable living in a solar-powered bed and breakfast hidden in the woods for the ultimate insular experience.

Continue on your path toward peace at the Windhorse Center Retreat, a Shamballa-based practice and spirituality center in Plymouth, with a vast area of land as a part of the Kettle Moraine State Forest. Join a Werma Retreat, a Tibetan term for a spirit thought to protect its practitioners, to master your meditation technique and explore the nature of the mind. Venture into the bio-shelter space carved into the side of a hill and make lasting friendships with other individuals who gather together for a similar purpose.

Seek complete isolation from a noisy city at the Sinsinawa Retreat Center, a peaceful 90-minute drive through Southwest Wisconsin in Sinsinawa, surrounded by 450 acres of abundant woods. It includes a labyrinth so you can lose and find yourself again—a perfect symbol for how we may feel lost in the chaos of our lives, but eventually find the balance again in a personal retreat. In early February, take a “Compassionate Acceptance” retreat to finally let go of resentments, betrayals and traumas. The workshop helps participants learn acceptance rather than resistance to those deeper wounds, helping the heart open through the lens of forgiveness and acceptance.

If you’re wishing to step a little farther from home, the Christine Center is three hours north to Willard, Wisconsin, and the retreat highlights a series of events this December. “Awaken your Intuition” will help you de-stress, revive inner peace, nourish the body and create a vision for how you want your life to be. Join the “Yoga Nidra: The Healing Power of Extreme Relaxation and Effortless Meditation” and experience the relaxation technique that translates to “conscious deep sleep” and strives for stillness of the mind. Individuals who have anxiety, stress or are undergoing medical treatment can benefit from this relaxing state of being. Or, come full circle by “Greeting the New Year with Silence, Soul and Centered Grace,” to set new intentions for the year ahead.

Last but not least, the Bearskin Lodge in Grand Marais on the Minnesota border is, in fact, peace on earth. Bearskin Lake is so untouched, it acts as a mirror that reflects the surrounding white pines and birch trees back to you. Choose from upscale lodging or classic cabins with private docks and fireplaces to warm nippy toes on a brisk winter night. Seek privacy in a wilderness setting away from electronic devices. Then, treat yourself to massage therapy, a private hot tub and a sauna or twirl your worries away ice skating in a serene environment.

After a rich and meaningful retreat, return home more at ease with yourself, your life and everyone in it. A little peace and quiet and a touch of golden solitude will take you far. Cheers to a year ahead of less doing and more being!