Tales of a Spiritual Tourist: What is a Retreat?

Travelling. Wanderlust. Adventure. Running away. A chance to look at every day anew – something that’s hard for us not-always-so-enlightened worker bees. Most of all a chance to appreciate yourself anew, to re-treat yourself. That’s what it means to me. The excitement and adventure of this opening of possibilities feeds my soul and others can see it in you too.



Take Donna and I – we met a good few years ago, lost touch and then she decided to join us on the Cyprus Retreat. While arranging to meet up to sort out the details she said: “I can’t do that week because I am going on a dream workshop……” the cosmic line up began to unfold. So when we met at Ardrossan Harbour Station we already knew we were on the helter skelter of synchronicity. Our vibe was our advance warning-


Having been chatted up at the bus stop we were cheery and a little late arriving, our chins dropped as we watched our ferry pull out of the tiny harbour, but Donna – a lady worth her salt – was in the ticket office before my brain had finished computing and the Fisherman’s Friend guy she spoke to radio-ed them back for us!


That’s how it works.


People either love or hate the energy you are projecting. In our ‘come to the pub / make the ferry turn back’ example, Donna’s engaging smile and proactive ‘we can do this’ energy motivated the ticket man to do just that. The story may have been different if frustrated we’d walked up to him saying “No-one told us that the bus would be late!” It’s basic law of attraction stuff, smile and the whole world smiles with you.



A new road ahead

So when Seda (my partner for retreats) recently asked me to write a paragraph for her new book on women travelling alone I decided to write about just that. I was pretty sure that the intention setting for the spiritual seeker would be covered, and that travellers, especially women, ought to follow local culture in terms of dressing with modesty. One of the first rules of travel abroad has to be: respect for the other person’s model of the world. We don’t all think the same, definitely not. So if you strutt your stuff in your skin tight levis or a boob crushing halter in a country where they wear ankle to toe stuff you shouldn’t be surprised at how the message you are putting out there is received. I have seen unbelievable instances of look-at-me-this-is-how-we-do-it-in-the-west stupidity. Even on my spiritual tours I’ve had to have a word in the ear about reigning the boobs in. A woman once complained bitterly to me around the pool in a Sharm El Sheik hotel that all the waiters were terrible and wouldn’t stop looking at her 16 year old daughter. I looked over the sun lounger to see a young girl projecting something between Barbara Winsor in her prime and Lolita. Simply stupid!


So when in Rome…


It just flows better that way, people like it and realise you are honouring them instead of trying to superimpose your beliefs onto their culture.


A great traveller herself, I was pretty sure Seda would have that covered. So then I thought OK if all that is covered what else do you need to ensure attracting exactly the experience you desire, mmm what about this projection thing.


Once upon a time I stuck my thumb out at the side of the road and made my way from Aberdeen to London, usually lorries. The scariest bit was when I occasionally had to walk stretches of country roads in the dark. Nothing bad ever happened. Same when I walked through places you are not meant to go in London and New York. I wasn’t deliberately courting danger. I was naive so I wasn’t displaying fear signals or trying to act tough either. I was curious and childlike – a very attractive vibe.


I did my first circumnavigation of the globe when I was 24 – I realised by then that I had this bullet-proof cloak – bit like Harry Potter’s invisibility one but I had no idea how or why I was like that. In some ways I don’t want to think about it but then that won’t give Seda her paragraph. So after a bit of head scratching I remembered the law of requisite variety (one of the presuppositions of NLP):


“The system with the most flexibility of behaviour will have the most influence on the whole”.


In other words the more behavioural choices you give yourself the better you will be able to adapt to any situation and so have the most influence on the system.


So when travelling know your intent and motivation well. Adapt to the local culture. Learn language basics. Be flexible, open minded and see every new day and new experience as an innocent child. Realise that whatever you focus on and pay attention to is what you will get, so project onto other people how you want to be yourself. And enjoy the journey. The journey itself is a spiritual unfolding – why else has the term been borrowed for all the various meanderings into the psyche. Give it all the respect it deserves.


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Re-treat and just be!

What does retreat mean to you?

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