By Ashley Aarti Cooper

Ashley Aarti Cooper is a storyteller and yogi. She is one of the organizers of the Restorative Arts and Yoga event at Granlibakken Tahoe. You can contact her at [email protected] or follow her on Instagram at @ashley_aarti. Learn more about Ashley and her practice here.

Yoga overlooking Lake TahoeWhy do we go on retreat? If you are reading this, you might not. Yet. Those of us who do retreat from our every day lives do so with eager hearts, practically running from our duties and tasks and diving heart first into the moment of surreal reprieve.

When you retreat, you will find that all of your duties and tasks will be waiting for you upon your return. Some of you may even find that the world has continued its orbit without you, perhaps giving others in your life an opportunity to rise to an occasion not often left for them to try out.

The reasons we retreat can be many: to make new friends, to try new things, to explore within the safety of a nurturing environment.

The reason you will continue to retreat time and time again will become apparent shortly after your arrival. It is because by retreating from our every day life, we feed our soul, our bodies, our hearts. Clarissa Pinkola Estes calls it homing. It is our right as humans who give so much of ourselves to replenish our stores of energy and inspiration. It is necessary if we are to continue on with the full force of our potential, strength, and creativity. And all of these things are necessary if we are to continue to serve our individual dharma, or life purpose.

“It is right and proper that we eke out, liberate, take, make, connive to get, assert our right to go home. Home is a sustained mood or sense that allows us to experience feelings not necessarily sustained in the mundane world: wonder, vision, peace, freedom from worry, freedom from demands, freedom from constant clacking.

Whatever revives balance is what is essential. That is home.

There is not only time to contemplate, but also to learn, and uncover the forgotten, the disused, and the buried. There we can imagine the future and also pore over the scar maps of the psyche, learning what led to what, and where we will go next.”

You know home, and it is not any single physical place. It is that peaceful, soulful, mindless moment in your asana or meditation practice. It is that feeling of relaxing into your car seat as you take a drive with the windows down and no pressing destination. It is the flow of painting, dancing, writing, or singing. It is in the noticing of the sun or a warm breeze on your skin, the gentle give of earth beneath your feet or between your fingers. It is the laughter you share with a special friend when you have nowhere else to go.

Sometimes it is total peace and joy. Other times going home is an opportunity to reflect, revisit our intentions, remap our next steps. We may be licking our wounds or strengthening ourselves for a march ahead. We may simply need rest.

The reasons to retreat are many, but one thing is certain: stepping away from our every day lives in order to settle once again in the seat of our power is the only way to live a life with integrity, grace, and creativity.

hanging hammock

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