Reflection, Relaxation, Self Appraisal
Mariners Inn Sixth Annual Housing Retreat took place this year, October 11th through the 13th. Thirty Housing residents participated in a weekend of therapeutic relaxation, meditation and solidarity.
Six years ago, the purpose of the housing retreat began simply for the Housing residents and Alumni members to enjoy a weekend out away from the inner city, in the country. However, through the years the purpose appeared greater than simple enjoyment. The men who returned from the retreat often spoke of having a spiritual awakening, getting closure to their higher power, meditating on life, letting go of stress and being in tune with their greater self. Because of new revelations the men often returned with, the retreat is often referred to as a spiritual retreat.
Upon our arrival at Gull Lake, late afternoon on a bright fall Michigan day, there was a sense of unknown among the Mariners Inn residents. After settling in, the men of Mariners Inn assembled together for the first time during dinner. Shortly after, an open talk took place regarding the expectations of the weekend for each individual. The group was then able to enjoy each other’s company or participate in the many activities provided at the retreat such as basketball, rock climbing, ping pong, pool, walking along the lake, or just spending some alone time to reflect and relax.
The next day the group assembled for breakfast and prepared for the group activities in the recreation center. One group activity involved the residents in identifying common interests or differences that may have not been known before about each other. Markers were placed around the gym and each resident stood on top of it, after a question was asked regarding several topics the resident had to move to another marker if he agreed with the statement. The next group activity involved a team work exercise that involved effective communication, working together, and overcoming obstacles. Needless to say our Mariners Inn residents were successful in completing the challenge.
This year, one of the standout activities that the men participated in was a team building activity called Stepping Stones. The objective was for the entire team to cross over stones, symbolic of life obstacles, and make it to the island of recovery, without losing a member of the team along the way.
The next day the group was able to enjoy the Gull Lake grounds for the rest of the day. After dinner, the group participated in the annual anticipated bonfire event. This activity allowed the residents to openly share about what they got out of their experience at the retreat and how they will use it for their benefit in the future. It became apparent that the annual weekend retreat was a remarkable success that will greatly assist the men in our Housing Program throughout their journey in recovery.
From a clinical perspective, the retreat is a great therapeutic intervention that incorporates meditation tools such as guided imagery, focusing on the present and silence or quite time. Often the residents within the Housing Program are not able to use these tools in their everyday urban environment, and this retreat provides an opportunity, at least, once a year to do so.
Gull Lake Experience Testimonials from our Residents
Upon my arrival at Gull Lake, an instant calm and serenity came over me. The room we gathered in had a Vermont ski lodge fell. I've never been inside of a ski lodge and I thought to myself, “This is what it must feel like”. There were deer heads on the mantle, a fire place and simply a group of men, not addicts.
The most enjoyable moment was when I took a paddle boat into the middle of the lake, alone, to enjoy the scenery. The water put my mind at peace. While on the water, I decided to call my daughter, sister & then brother. I wanted to let them know how I was feeling. I felt that I have gained a much deeper appreciation for Mariners Inn and the staff. Because of this experience I will forever remember Mariners Inn.
I gained a better appreciation of the people I share the TH House with, as well as staff. I have gained an appreciation for peace and being humbled to things that are unfamiliar to me.
As a result of the trip to Gull Lake I developed an appreciation for meditation and the power of it. It is amazing how clear ones thoughts can become about love, life and faith, and the future while alone in the middle of the woods while in complete silence. On a lighter note, I also realized that I am definitely getting older because climbing the wall was not as easy as it looked.
Gull Lake was a restful and peaceful time for reflection. It was a time to look at where I am going in life now. Also it was a time to strengthen the spirit and commune with God.
My experience at Gull Lake was great! It was very relaxing and gave me peace of mind. It’s a different environment and gives you a better perspective on life other than the inner city commotion and tendency for depression. I really enjoyed myself and would love to return.