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Every day a mini holiday gives mental peace and balance

Experience what meditation can do for you

Why a retreat?

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A retreat gives you a break from being in the storm of stimuli and impressions. A break that has many benefits and gives you a more profound form of relaxation and recharge than almost any holiday.

Learn here more about what a retreat is and can do for you!




Retreat means taking distance from your daily life. Not to escape from the external world, but to explore the internal world. This gives you the opportunity to restore the balance between the two, because nowadays our attention and focus often is for the biggest part (if not completely) absorbed by what happens around us.


Meditation training camp


By deliberately abandoning your regular life for a while, you can disconnect from all the obligations, roles, patterns and other things that keep you busy and distracted. Turning your attention inwards puts the focus on what is going on inside of you and how you react to all the things that draw your attention. That’s exactly what you do and happens in meditation. In a retreat this isn’t for just one session though, it is something you do for multiple sessions a day and without too much distractions in between.

Retreats are training camps for the mind. Like with training camps in sport you spend a certain amount of time to almost exclusively focus on improving certain skills and work towards specific results. To make that training period most effective, it is done in circumstances that are optimally fit for the training you want to do. For meditation that’s a serene and quiet location without too many distractions.


‘All you encounter in meditation on a remote mountaintop, is what you did bring up there yourself‘


This is a Tibetan saying and means that it doesn’t matter where you meditate and the things that come up during meditation will not change too much by the circumstances. The most important distractions are thoughts, feelings and emotions and those come from within. So you do not necessarily have to go to a special place to practice effectively. A different location that is optimally suited for meditation, can make it easier though. When you are somewhere that is set up for meditation, quiet and with not a lot of possible distractions, the external distractions are less so it makes it easier to work with ‘just’ the internal ones to get past the superficial layers and to go deeper into yourself.In a retreat place you are there to meditate and nothing else. Also there is not much else you can do and that is different at home. There you can always find something to do, clean or fix (and maybe will even be looking for something to have an excuse to get out of meditation when things get a bit uncomfortable). A new environement without too many stimuli helps you to detach even more from your life and to focus on your practice.


Fixing the subconscious turmoil


Your attention normally is with the superficial layers of your consciousness because we are mostly focussed on external distractions. When that calms down, the deeper layers emerge and this is where the unprocessed stuff comes up. Stuff that is present in the background and prevents you from real relaxation. It hasn’t got the opportunity to be processed because it is constantly overruled by the movements in the superficial layers. The same happens when you have a busy day and the first moment of no input, when you lie down in bed, all the unprocessed stuff that happened in the day make their way into your consciousness. They come up because there was no time for it before and now interfere with your peace of mind, which is necessary to fall asleep. The same applies to life in general.Unprocessed things will surface as soon as there is an opportunity to and a retreat often is that moment. Away from all the distractions and things that kidnap your uncontrolled attention all the time, deeper layers emerge. Which kind of feels unwelcome because you want to relax, but is good because they are partly responsible for that you haven’t got the peace of mind you want in daily life. That they are present unconsciously doesn’t mean they don’t have any impact. Not only are they between you and deeper forms of relaxation, they subconsciously affect your present moment. It is like having the extraction fan on, ‘de afzuigkap’ in Dutch, while cooking. After a few minutes you don’t hear the noise anymore and it goes to the background because your attention is with cooking. When you turn it off afterwards though, you will notice the calm and quiet you suddenly experience and that wasn’t there before. Even if you didn’t notice the noise anymore.



  • Although it gives even a deeper form of relaxation, a retreat is all but a relaxing holilday



Just like in meditation in the evening helps you to process the impressions of the day and help you fall asleep better and easier, a retreat helps you to process the things that are in the way of a deeper peace of mind. It helps to calm down the things that keep you busy and make you restless because they are present in the background and that gives you more calmness and peace in your life. It is like turning off the extraction fan. Off course not all your worries and problems disappear with one retreat, just like not all the restlessness before the night disappears with the evening meditation, It does noticeably increase your mental calmness though.


Not just a holiday


After a retreat you almost always have a holiday feeling, that is deeper and lasts longer than after a regular holiday. That isn’t because a retreat is all so relaxing. Just like with meditation, the process itself isn’t always very smooth and serene. By a retreat you go deeper than in a single meditation and therefore reach deeper layers of calm and presence, the ride can be more bumpy and less nice, cosy and tranquil than in a meditation as well. Things that can be very confronting are less the boundaries of your patience and ‘concentration endurance’. The confrontation and frustration about all that comes up and the lack of control you notice to have about your mental processes can be hard work and ask a lot of discipline.

Although the ‘work done during’ is a bit more challenging every now and then compared to a single meditation session, the rewards are even bigger and make it worth while. Also it will helps you to improve your skills because you have to show more endurance and it helps you to make a leap in your practice. The progress is also much more than just the sum of the individual meditation sessions at the retreat. Not in the last place because you get to know yourself better because of observing how your mind works when things might be less pleasant and you have less of an escape to external distractions.

In a retreat you reach the deeper layers easier and work towards deeper relaxation. The result is that you achieve a deeper sense of calm, one that is definitely different from the ‘relaxation’ that people think they get from watching a movie or series. It is like the feeling you experience after a meditation session and than deeper and more stable.


Open versus closed retreats


Closed retreats means all the distraction by other people is avoided. That means no communication or even contact with others. Open retreats have breaks where you can talk or connect to the people around you. The last version is less hard-core and easier to process and that’s also the form of retreat I use in my retreats. By breaks between the sessions, time to talk about your progress and guidance by an experienced person, things fall into place easier and better when you don’t have a lot of retreat experience yet. And although closed retreats go deeper when you know what to do, open retreats will also bring you a lot of insights and relaxation.


Try it yourself!


To sum up, retreats are more effective than weekends off or holidays when it comes to relaxation and working with yourself. I wanted to be upfront that they are challenging even now and then. The rewards are more than worth it though and it is quite probable that you can’t really remember the last time you felt so relaxed and recharged in the days afterwards. The results are more profound because the investment also is. It is like running a marathon when you normally do ten kilometre runs. The training process and challenge of the retreat is thereby bigger than the sum of the sessions alone and effectively deepen your skills and your development and understanding of yourself and how your system functions.

Give yourself the present of a retreat every now and then and make the next step in your practice with the profound results. It is more than worth it!!


If you are looking for a retreat, let me know or check my agenda when the next one is planned! Of course you are alos welcome for courses, workshops, the open meditation evenings. Even if you want to dive into meditation without leaving your house we have options like the audio meditation here on my website, my blogs or my book ‘Meditatie, je dagelijkse minivakantie’ (that unfortunately is only available in Dutch). We love to help you!

Roel Wilbers

Meditation trainer and autor of ‘Meditatie, je dagelijkse minivakantie’

More information about meditation you can find here on www.meditatie.amsterdam and our Facebook page

Interested to work with me?

Do you also want to benefit from all the research and experience I gathered for many years to get to the core of meditation and translate it into contemporary, accessible and practical methods to get the best out of yourself? If you would like to work with me, apply now for one of my next activities.
Beginner or more experienced, I am happy to help you on your way towards more inner peace, balance, energy, clarity and freedom of mind, with methods that can have lifechanging effects within weeks. See you soon!

Roel Wilbers – meditation trainer and author of ‘Meditation, your daily mini holiday’