The Inner Work
of Retreat

By Rick and Mary NurrieStearns


When life moves us, through suffering, mystical or near death experience, we know intimately that there is more to human life than what appears on the surface. Even without such life altering events we may sense that there is more to life than our normal experience and yearn to know that depth personally. When we are called by dramatic experience or by an inner yearning, our happiness depends on embarking on a transformational journey. The heart of the journey is becoming aware of the quiet inner presence that is the source of healing and joy. Everything we need is within, including the answers to our most important questions. Our task is to become aware, to listen and to respond.

More than a break from life's duties, routines and busyness, our retreats are a sacred container that can energetically facilitate clarity, creativity and love. They offer a way to move past our conditioned selves and into the essence of who we are. Most efforts for self transformation keep us within the same orbit and magnetic pull of our problems we never become conscious enough to be able to put life issues in perspective.

Our retreats offer a way to do the ongoing inner work of maturation, which can continue throughout our life span, manifesting as greater wisdom and compassion. During retreat we consciously take up the inner work of opening up and looking at old assumptions, misunderstandings, and motivations that underlie our surface experience of life. This journey moves us through the subterranean undercurrents of the unconscious mind. At times this travel can be intense as we break free of the gravity that keeps us stuck in old ways of being and prevent us from fulfilling our potential.

As each participant's needs and life situation are unique their inner work is personal. Each person's process is private and not disclosed within the group, increasing the felt sense of safety. The work enhances the participant's ability to discern between essence qualities that heal and mature and egoic desires that unintentionally perpetuate old personality patterns. Being able to recognize true essence is liberating. That awareness guides us towards our potential so that we feel more authentic and fulfilled.

Through intentional practices we learn to uncover and trust our own inner guidance. When we follow our own inner guidance, over time we find that our lives become more simple, uncomplicated, and straightforward. We begin to live and express the peace that arises from within.

Below are some of the key elements of the work that Rick and Mary facilitate during retreat.

Awareness Practice
We focus awareness into the subtle inner life of stillness, energy, presence, knowing, peace, and contentment those aspects of essence that reside beneath the activity of our outer lives. We meditate, consciously breathe to beautiful music, move our bodies with gentle yoga and practice mindful walking and eating. These practices point to the presence of spiritual qualities thus empowering retreatants to recognize their truest selves.

Inner Guidance
Cultivating an intimate relationship with breath, silence and presence not only nourishes us, it develops trust and deep listening. This inner openness allows whatever is arising in consciousness to come forth. We don't have to push to do inner work, profound shifts organically occur when we allow presence and stillness. Our conscious mind is not always aware of what insights or healing awaits us. Therefore, we invite inner guidance to reveal herself to us. By opening up the communication within ourselves, we understand our personality more and develop the capacity to listen to the inner voice of knowing. As we open, we are more available to grace and healing from the inside out.

Self Inquiry
Here we look into the personality, the person we generally consider ourselves to be. We examine both the patterns that decrease our ability to tune into the inner essence and the stories that comprise our self identity, who we usually think that we are. We look into the thick, defended, protected maneuvers of our personality that obscure our vulnerability and sensitivity as well as our ability to sense essence. We uncover the stories about who we are as individuals. Examining stories of identity frees us from the grips of early conditioning that mold our experience of ourselves and the world around us. The practice of inquiry is done through teachings, journaling and group discussions during the meetings.

Silence, Stillness and Rest
Separating ourselves from our routines, away from the business of our every day lives, supports deep rest. Other than two group meetings daily, we observe social silence. This allows us to forgo our social tendencies and focus in on our inner lives. Eliminating superficial connections with others furthers depth connection with ourselves. We retreat in a beautiful, natural setting and follow a simple schedule. The stillness of the surrounding wilderness invokes inner stillness, drawing us into the quiet. Our inner and outer environments are then conducive for immersing ourselves into the heart of our inner lives.

Transformative Energetic Guidance
A retreat within a group differs from a solo retreat as a solo retreat takes remarkable self focus, effort and much more time to see into the habituated and contracted ways of being. Successfully doing the deeper work of maturation necessitates the assistance and energetic guidance of those who walk this path. Rick and Mary, along with the energy created by the group of committed individuals, support each participant of the group. Together, a safe, intentional and revealing environment is created.