How to choose the right retreat for you.
The way to get out of the rat race is to get OUT of the rat race.
The Rat Race is a term used to describe a frustrating and often overwhelming lifestyle, seemingly impossible to break out of. What's even more fascinating about the rate race is that it has become so much the norm that most people are totally oblivious that they're right in it. Do you also live from weekend to weekend or holiday to holiday and hope that someday things will get better?
The main reason why so few people ever really get out of the rat race is that they try to get out of it, whilst being in it. That's a bit like trying to get out of quicksand by moving around frantically; it's just not going to happen.
Before we look at ways to get out of the rat race, let's turn to science to see what may happen if you don't.
Your brain functions on brainwaves (patterns of electrical impulses); these impulses can be short, sharp and intense - like when you're really stressed, or more measured, relaxed and spread out - like when you're in a deep restful sleep. Science has identified 4 main brain states, based on your predominant brainwave pattern.
A very active mind - multi-tasking, running around, logical thinking and planning - results in short, short and intense brainwaves, called a Beta state. As functional and important as Beta brainwaves are, they can also cause stress and anxiety, especially if prolonged.
When you spend a lot of time in a Beta state you miss out on accessing the other states:
Alpha waves - helping you connect to your intuition
Theta waves - fostering a deeper spiritual connection
Delta waves - allowing you to access unconscious information that you cannot get in any other state; also critically important for deep sleep, which in turn is essential for regeneration; missing out on this can impact your health significantly.
Only taking time off for a few hours here and there, an afternoon or a weekend, is often not enough for your brain to reset itself and to move out of the Beta patterns; especially so if you're constantly checking emails or worrying about things even when you're away.
Being in a Beta state for an extended time impacts not only your physical health, but also your emotional and spiritual wellbeing. No wonder that a lot of people do what they can to escape from the discomfort - partying hard or working harder, playing extreme sports, going to lovely holiday destinations or becoming addicted to cigarettes or TV. Even though there is nothing wrong with these activities per se, the problem is that none of them actually change anything; after the weekend or holiday or party you still go back to the same old, same old.
The other classic problem with busy people, who spend a lot of time in Beta, is that they are busy people! Their diaries (like their minds) are often full or they are in positions of responsibility which makes it difficult for them to get away. Busy people often set up their lives so that others depend on them - children, partners, colleagues at work - making it impossible for them to get away.
All these dependants and having little time and ever more pressure, unconsciously fuels the stress - and yes, you guessed it, the Beta waves, making it increasingly harder to access the other states. Over time this also affects your REM (rapid eye movement) sleep which significantly impacts your well-being.
It's easy to convince yourself you just cannot get away, and that you'll take time out later, when the truth is that being in a prolonged Beta state depletes your inner resources (physically, intellectually, emotionally and spiritually). That not only makes it increasingly harder to deal with day-to-day stress, but also more difficult to switch off when you do take time out for short periods of time, a day here, a day there.
If you've set up your life like that, it may be time to really challenge yourself and be honest about the potential consequences on you and your loved ones if you don't take care of your wellbeing.
Maybe you, like so many people, think that things will change one day; the thing is, for most people, one day never comes.
The way to change tomorrow is to take responsibility for your wellbeing today, to say no more to the rat race and to say yes please to some time out, to decide that your life is valuable to enough for you to take the time out to evaluate what really matters to you. Whether you do or don't, the clock's ticking.