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Retreats, Journeys, and Neuroplasticity

Every good story, whether found in a novel or film, involves characters embarking on some sort of journey. This could be a literal trip towards a physical destination or experiencing a crisis at home that creates internal movement. Whether it is Odysseus’ epic struggle to return home after the Trojan War, Sansa Stark leaving Winterfell, or the boys in the Sandlot trying to recover a lost baseball, all stories involve protagonists experiencing something that pushes them outside their ordinary boundaries. As they encounter these new challenges found on the journey, the characters are left forever changed at the end.

When we choose to go on a personal retreat, we are intentionally creating a small journey of our own. Going away to experience new things out of the ordinary, provides the fertile ground for growth. Every time we step away from our normal life rhythms, places, and relationships, we are allowed the opportunity to be changed through novelty.

Psychologically, our brains change through new experiences.

Research within the field of neuroscience is teaching us that when we encounter something novel, especially when emotionally impactful, it has the potential to create new neural pathways. Our brains can form additional synaptic connections throughout life, through a phenomenon called neuroplasticity, as we continue to interact with the environment in new ways that challenge previously held understandings. New experiences can literally change the way our brains perceive the world, allowing for more mature, open, and broad ways of thinking. “Newness” experienced in life can create newness in our brains.

Setting time aside to go on a retreat, to experience newness, challenges old self-concepts and provides fresh insight to promote cognitive growth.

And, just like the protagonist in a good story, the goal of the journey is always to return home a bit different. However, the hope of becoming changed is not just for our own sake, but for the good of impacting our communities. Luke Skywalker didn’t find Yoda purely to elevate his own self-actualization. Similarly, when we take time to retreat, to set aside a special time away from our communities, it is so we can come back renewed, grounded, and with a bit more self-insight to better impact those in our world.

I am excited about being part of the Enneagram Innerwork Retreat because it will allow for a small community of people to intentionally create time and space to focus, reflect, and experience something new. Further, the enneagram itself is such a useful tool to provide a launching pad for this type of self-exploration. The concepts within the 9-type system provide language and mental footholds that foster curiosity about our patterns of relating in the world. I’m especially excited about this retreat because we will be a group that already is familiar with the enneagram, which will allow the content to go deeper into the system and how it applies to our growth. And, just like the character in a good story, I am anticipating that those of us participating in this retreat will experience ourselves and others in new ways that will allow for an expanded view of the world. Essentially, I hope we return home a little different after this journey.



On Site Therapist for the Enneagram Innerwork Retreat.

Ryan is passionate about the enneagram as a tool to support life-long personal growth. After first discovering the enneagram in 2010, Ryan has incorporated this personality typology system into mentoring, teaching, retreats, and now therapy as a means to support one’s journey towards increased self-understanding, personal freedom, and promoting healthy relationships.



-Tickets are all inclusive food, lodging, programming and the beautiful outdoors

-Learn from a Therapist, Coach and Spiritual Director

-Program is aimed toward folks who know the enneagram well + want deeper transformation

-Enneagram Subtypes and storytelling


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