Maybe you have experienced this: you are participating in a retreat, or even an event like a seminar for work, and somebody asks you to stand up and share your thoughts or experience with the whole group. Not only does it catch you off guard, but speaking in front of a group is one of the last items of the list of things that you want to do.
For many of us a situation like this would cause our heart rate to spike, we may start sweating, and the nervousness may be overwhelming.
It is the potential of this exact scenario that is often a stumbling block for somebody considering making their first retreat.
While sharing like that can be very powerful and beneficial for the group on a retreat, we don’t want it to be the factor that holds anybody back from the refreshing and impactful experience of making a retreat.
If speaking in front of a group or being asked to bare your soul are holding you back from making a retreat, consider these suggestions.
- Don’t expect it. On most retreats this type of sharing in front of the entire group does not happen. At most, participants might be asked to participate in discussions with a small group. Over the course of the retreat you will get to know your small group well and it will be much more comfortable to discuss spiritual topics with them than with the entire retreat group.
- You have the right to pass. If you are in fact asked to speak in front of a group and you do not wish to, you have the right to say “I will pass, thank you.” If the person asking is insistent, you also have the right to be insistent on passing. Almost anybody who is asking people to share with the group will understand the first time that you ask to pass.
- Look at different type of retreats. There is only one type of retreat in which you would be asked to speak in front of a group. This would be a “preached” or “group” retreat, in which the entire group of retreatants is getting together to listen to a series of talks over the course of a retreat. There are other options, though.You may decide to make a private retreat, which means simply renting out a room or hermitage at a retreat center, monastery, or somewhere similar and spending time in prayer and quiet. You may make it a “directed” retreat by doing the same thing, but arranging to meet with a spiritual director at least daily during the retreat to walk with you on the journey and guide you in your time of prayer. In these cases, the only speaking or sharing you would be doing on the retreat is with your spiritual director.
Additionally, consider making a silent retreat. These can take many forms, but the main point is that the people making the retreat are to remain silent for the duration. There are even options for silent preached retreats, where you would still listen to a series of talks by the retreat director and participate in Mass and meals with the others that are on retreat, but all of the retreatants remain silent throughout the experience.
If you are considering making a retreat, do not let the fear of speaking in front of a group or sharing with others hold you back. There are many retreat options that will allow you to have the experience that you are looking for without the elements that you find off-putting.
Start looking for a retreat center in your area today by visiting our directory at catholicretreats.net