Why has withdrawal always been so foundational to spiritual transformation? Why do we go on retreat?
Retreat not just physical retreats but the notion of going inwards has to do with letting go of all the surface distractions in our lives. It allows the minor irritants and frustrations that create a little static in our hearts and minds to fall away. As we let go and step away from the surface, we leave behind complexity, we turn away from our projects and plans, our unresolved issues and unrealized dreams.
Retreat is what enables us to sink into our Selves. It settles us into that backdrop of consciousness that pervades all that is. It brings us home, into our deeper selves, into the heart of the mystery.
While we may physically join others, the first step or inner posture of retreat is a solitary one. We retreat alone into that cavern of the soul, into that corridor to the fathomless. Daring to leave all of our unfinished business alone, unresolved, we leave behind the fuss of the world, like shedding worn clothes, sweat-soaked and dust covered from a day of labor. As we step out of the skin of our lives, we wash ourselves clean, preparing ourselves for an encounter with the sacred.