Leading You Through a Retreat

Picture of the Ojai Valley in California Where I Live

Since the mid 1990’s I have been leading people on retreats. Though I focus mainly on taking people on retreat in California these days, I have also led people on retreats in Maui and Sedona. As a counselor with decades of experience, I confess that I get a special kind of joy taking someone on a one-on-one retreat.

Lisa2016STEP ONE: Free 30 Minute Phone Call.

The start of any retreat begins when I get that first email asking me to contact someone for a retreat. From there I set up a free 30 minute phone call where I start to discover what is going on in that person’s life that is causing him or her distress. Is it a feeling of overwhelm at work?  Has a breakup, divorce, or death happened in his or her life?  Does he or she need to take time to focus, sort things out and make a change so a new direction in life can be faced with more confidence and ease?  Is the person, or even couple, searching for real love and needs guidance in how to go about it?  Or, is there a deep need to feel spirtually reconnected and back in touch with the deeper essence of who we all really are, what I call the Peaceful Self.  Then again, maybe it is something else entirely. Whatever it is I am already in the process of drawing upon my vast experience to help the person discover what he or she needs to let go of to get unstuck and remember the Peaceful Self — that loving, joyful, calm person — they know themselves to be underneath whatever they are going through.

zengardenSTEP TWO: Determining Your Needs Session.

After the initial phone call if you decide you want to go on retreat with me, the next step is a phone call where I speak with you more in depth to understand what you are going through so I can determine what will help you heal. And, here is where I differ from many people who will lead you on a one-on-one retreat. Long before you arrive I have spent a considerable amount of time thinking about you, meditating about your situation, and putting together in my mind and on paper what your needs are and how I can help you make a significant shift during our retreat time. I am also drawing upon my decades of experience as a highly trained counselor who has worked with literally thousands of people, to discern how best to help you. All of this is then channeled into what comes about in Step Four: Creating Your Retreat.  But, first let me introduce you to Step Three.

GetReadyForRetreatGuideSTEP THREE: Setting Up Your Retreat

Once you decide you want to go on retreat with me, in addition to being your counselor, I put on the hat of acting like your Travel Guide to ensure you get to the right location, at the right time, in the right way so you can relax and feel supported and safe on your retreat as much as possible. Along these lines I help you answer the following questions.

  • What do you hope to have happen during your retreat time?
  • Will you be going through a retreat during a 3, 5 or 7 day time period?
  • Will you come to see in me in person in Ojai?  Or, will you be going to a retreat center, motel, or resort and work with me virtually through the phone or Skype?
  • What dates work best for you?
  • How much counseling time do you want to be including in your retreat time?
  • What kind of additional services do you desire in the way of yoga, massage, nature walks, or other healing services?
  • We will also discuss, other questions that may emerge.

After I am clear on what you are needing I am available to answer any questions you have to help you start your retreat in a comfortable manner. As the date for your retreat gets closer, I also send you my Get Ready for Retreat Guide as a .pdf file . And, if you are coming to Ojai, I send a number of other .pdf guides I have created to help you make the most of your stay in the Ojai Valley.

STEP FOUR: Creating Your Retreat

The next step is the most creative for me as I take considerable time to actually design your retreat. Drawing upon my experience helping literally thousands of people, I design a retreat manual of experiences customized just for you. The entire retreat is laid out in a way that is easy to follow. Your manual includes your retreat schedule carefully outlining when you will be working on exercises in your manual, having free time, or participating in services you have selected to add into your retreat like counseling, yoga, massage, nature hikes, and much more. Many of the exercises in the manual I have taken the time to develop and write out especially for you. Keeping everything flexible, during your retreat, if need be I switch things around or even add in new exercises or experiences if that is what works best for you.

STEP FIVE: Leading You Through the Retreat Itself

6243695_lAfter many years of leading retreats, I have learned to keep in mind that down time is just as important in a retreat as activity time. A lot happens when we are apparently doing nothing. We can spend time getting back in touch with that inner voice within, what I call the Peaceful Self. Insights emerge. Our emotions calm down. Our bodies repair and rejuvenate. Creative impulses well up. We get back in touch with the natural world. Most of all, we heal.

For all these reasons, I keep in mind that this is a retreat, not an intensive or workshop. Though your manual includes exercises to work through in the way of reading, journaling, going through guided meditations, or exploring around the theme you are retreating on, they tend to be kept to a maximum of three hours a day. Those who retreat with me can do these throughout the day, or concentrate on them primarily in the morning, afternoon, or at night.  As for themes they may include:

  • Emotional healing especially after a loss of some kind, or to help you find inner joy, peace and hope again in your life.
  • Visioning the next steps you want your life to take in the way of personal and spiritual growth, or changes in career or relationship.
  • Relationship work in the way of helping you move past unhealthy relationship patterns, or discovering what Real Love is and how to attract it more into your life.
  • Spiritual growth in the way of releasing stress, deepening your spiritual practice, getting more into the present moment, and getting more and more anchored in what I call your Peaceful Self.
  • Self care and stress relief helping you to identify the ways in which you tend to deplete yourself by giving more than you receive and helping you open up to receiving more both at the retreat and after you are gone.
View from room at the Ojai Retreat

In addition to time you spend working on the exercises in your manual, your days are also filled with activities you have selected to add into your retreat including things like counseling sessions, yoga, massage, nature walks and more.

Just as your retreat starts, if we are meeting in person, on day one I will deliver your customized retreat manual to you, or if we are meeting virtually through Skype or on the phone, I will email you a .pdf file of  your retreat the night before. I then take the time to go over the entire manual and retreat process with you so you feel safe, comfortable, and clear about how your retreat experience will unfold.

Though everyone’s retreat is unique, here is a general idea of what a daily retreat schedule might look like.

9009324_lSTEP SIX: General Schedule for a Retreat.

This below is a general outline of what happens during a retreat. Once again, three times are typically left open for participants to work on Retreat Manual Exercises. As you see these take place in the morning, afternoon, or evening giving plenty of flexibility to either relax or move through the recommended Retreat Manual Exercises for the day.

As for Counseling sessions that are part of the retreat, they typically happen in the mornings, though at times they may happen in the late afternoon or early evenings. If yoga or meditation sessions are scheduled they are best done in the morning or early evening hours. Nature walks, a spiritual tour of Ojai (if you have come to retreat with me in person), massages, and energy healing sessions are typically done in the afternoons. Again, everything is flexible depending on your needs, with changes to the schedule made at times during the retreat.

7 am to 10 am:   Free Time (or Retreat Manual Exercises)
10 am to 11 am:  Counseling Session, Yoga, Meditation (if scheduled)
11 am to Noon:   Counseling Session, Yoga, Meditation (if scheduled)

Noon to 1:00:    Lunch
1 pm to 4 pm:   Free Time, Nature Walk,  etc. (or Retreat Manual Exercises).
4 pm to 5 pm:   Massage, Energy Healing Session (or Free Time)

5 pm to 6 pm:    Dinner
6 pm to 7 pm:   Counseling Session, Yoga, Massage, or Other Scheduled Activity
7 pm to 10 pm: Free Time (or Retreat Manual Exercises).

This process is repeated for every day you have scheduled a retreat.  (Note: Retreats go for three, five, or seven days).

peace2STEP SEVEN: After the Retreat Ends.

After your retreat for those who wish, another retreat can be scheduled to deepen your process sometime in the future.  Or, you may schedule follow up counseling sessions independent of retreat time.

Ultimately, my goal is to make sure that at the end of your retreat you feel more whole, complete, loved, healed and of course peaceful!  Whether it is a typical one or two day retreat we create for you, or something much longer, I welcome you to work with me to discover a bit more of the PEACEFUL SELF you are!


Peace, love, and light!

Dr. Lisa Love

Want support with the above?  Contact me below.

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