Every year I try to take a personal retreat. I do it for spiritual reasons (to connect with God, pray, meditate, and listen to God on what He has for me and any new endeavors He wants me to pursue).  However, there are numerous reasons why I enjoy these kinds of retreats.  Here are a few of my favorite.  

1.  Unplug.

Have you ever been in a place where you can’t use your phone and cannot access the internet?  It’s wonderfully freeing.  At my parents ranch in the Texas panhandle, I do not get cell reception, and they do not have access to the internet.  It’s that remote.  And it is glorious!  I can’t help but unplugging and unwinding and enjoying the quiet, simpler pace.

2.  Create.

I find that when I unplug from everything and have more space and time to think, I become more creative.  It allows for that space to be able to tune everything out to discover and conceive of what is possible.

3. Rest.

There is more to rest than just sleep.  Your body needs environments that are restful in addition to sleep.  Always going and never stopping to rest is not a healthy way to live and can result in burnout.  A personal retreat allows your body, mind, and spirit time to rest.

4. Think.

Think about what is important.  Are you focusing on the most important things?

Think about what you want out of life.  Are you pursuing those things?

Think about your work and/or ministry.  Are you

Spend time thinking about life, family, God, your spirituality, and more.

5. Decide.

Have you been putting off any decisions?  On your retreat, you probably will have some time to reflect on your options and come to a decision.

Or maybe your time alone has resulted in some conclusions that there are things that you need to change.  Now is the time to decide and commit and change things once you get back.

6. Renew.

Personal retreats are great for renewal.  After completing a retreat, I always come back refreshed, rested, and ready to take on any challenges that come my way.

Unplugging and allowing your body, mind, and spirit time to recharge helps prevent burnout and

7.  Pray.

With all the quiet that will be a part of your retreat, you will have plenty of time to pray.  Bring a journal and write down your prayers.  I’ve done this on many retreats and it is amazing to go back months later to see what I prayed and how those prayers have been answered.

8. Reflect.

Most of us are so busy that we take little time to reflect on our lives and what’s going on around us. Personal reflection helps us [analyze] our lives and see what we want to keep and what we want to get rid of.

Are there habits that you need to change, either add or subtract?

Are there friendships that need restoration?

Are there people you need to forgive or ask for their forgiveness?

Reflection can be a very powerful part of your time, but only as much as you allow yourself to dive in and reflect on important issues.

9. Listen.

When is the last time you’ve stopped and listened…

…to the wind rustling through the leaves?

…to the birds chirping and singing?

…to a thunderstorm rolling in?

…to your own heart beating inside your chest?

10.  Read and write.

Take a good book or, even better in my opinion, take a Bible and journal and spend some time diving into Scripture.  Read whole chapters and books at a time to give you a different perspective on Scripture (one most people don’t have).

Write down what you notice and things that jump out at you.  Write down questions that you have from your reading.

11.  Observe.

Most of my retreats are in the mountains.  I love to be in the outdoors and be around nature.  It makes me feel closer to God, and it helps me to connect to Him on a deeper level.

I try to observe things around me and pay attention to the little things:

Spiderwebs spun in between two cedar trees.

The sun reflecting off the stream.

The stars at night. (There are few more beautiful things than a star-lit sky away from the lights of the city).

12.  Play.

I have a pastor-friend who, as part of his annual retreats, goes skiing.  He reads his Bible on the ski lift on the way up the mountain and skis down.  He spends the evening in silence and doesn’t respond to email or phone during his extended stay.

Whether you like skiing, the mountains, the beach, or whatever, spend some time doing activities you enjoy. Personally, I like to go hiking, but I’ve also gone snowshoeing and gone coffee house hopping on other retreats.

It’s your choice – spend it on things you enjoy, but challenge yourself to remain unplugged and not check voice mail or email.  Limit your phone conversations with family to help keep you focused on why you’re there (and to not allow noise or guilt invade your time and space.)

When beginning these personal retreats, start with a day or a half-day and build up to a multi-day retreat.  It will depend on your schedule; however, if you can spend at least 3 or 4 days on a personal retreat, you will begin to relax, get in the groove, and really begin savoring your time.

Have you ever taken a personal retreat?  What are some of your favorite reasons for doing them?  Let me know in the comments below.