It is very common to assume that spirituality is an intimately personal matter that is best kept private and not shared with others. The traditional image of the spiritual seeker is often an image of a solitary individual seeking seclusion at home or in nature. It is from a place of seclusion that many people contemplate their spirituality, finding peace and quiet to be alone with their most spiritual thoughts. When people return from these spiritual journeys, they are not often expected to talk to the rest of us about their experiences or discoveries. However, by keeping spirituality private and not letting it mingle with social life, we may be doing ourselves an injustice.
Some people who are in search of non-denominational spiritual enrichment choose to attend organized spiritual retreats with other people who take the same open-minded approach to matters of the soul. Such spiritual retreats come in many, many different varieties. They may be centered around a specific idea or group of ideas, they may emphasize the setting where they are held (such as a mountain cabin retreat), or they may encourage people who attend to work toward a particular personal spiritual goal. Whatever the theme, spiritual retreats involve gathering together with others to participate in the spiritual journey in a social setting.
Talk About Your Spiritual Side
There are many benefits to being social with spirituality. Talking to others about spirituality can be difficult, intimidating, and even frightening at first, because we are usually taught that personal matters like this should not be discussed with others. In a safe setting, however, discussing your spirituality can lead to discoveries and personal growth you never thought possible. Learning to express your spirituality so that others can understand it and to hear others' perspectives on spiritual matters could provide the catalyst for spiritual seekers to take the next step they have been waiting for.
Benefits of Spiritual Isolation
Of course, although sharing spirituality in safe social settings can be and immensely rewarding and useful experience, spiritual solitude still has its place. Isolation in nature, silent, inward meditation, and private introspection are all an integral part of getting in touch with your inner self and learning to appreciate your spiritual side. For that reason, many spiritual retreats develop schedule or programs that incorporate ample time to be alone and think about spiritual matters. Additionally, silent meditation may be done in a room with several other meditating people without greatly hindering the experience.
Combining Social Spirituality and Solitude
One of the biggest perks of social spirituality comes when people combine the best of both worlds. Organized spiritual retreats are good for this because they allow attendees to take some time to themselves to contemplate and engage in deep, introspective thinking. After everyone in a group has done this, the group can come together and share experiences with one another. This is when significant growth can happen. Individual spirituality is given its place, but the solitary experiences are augmented by the opportunity to share, listen, give feedback and receive feedback from like-minded individuals.
How to Choose a Spiritual Retreat
Unfortunately, because personal spirituality can be such a free-flowing, nebulous topic, organized spiritual retreats can vary greatly in quality. Some such events are run by real experts who want to help people discover their deeper selves, and some are run by what amount to scam artists with no real spiritual feeling or experience guiding others in their spiritual journeys. In choosing a spiritual retreat for yourself, be sure to choose one that has a good reputation and is run by individuals with clear credentials.
Alternatives to Spiritual Retreats
Also, consider less formal alternatives to spiritual retreats, such as engaging in discussions about spirituality with others in your community. Whether you casually discuss spiritual matters with your friends or form a group of community members who meet once per week, sharing your spirituality with others whom you trust is a positive experience.