We’re asked if we are doing in-person retreats yet. We can’t wait to say, “YES!”
Like many people, we are more than ready “to be done” with this virus. Unfortunately, this virus is not yet done with us.
Even more unfortunately, an in-person retreat is a super spreading venue for COVID-19 that is far worse than what are considered to be the worst known superspreaders.
So we are not conducting in-person retreats at this time. We sorely miss giving them in person. But it makes no sense to do them now, especially since we found out that there is no advantage to working in person compared to our virtual retreats.
To the contrary, we have often heard from our clients that our virtual retreats are more effective than in person retreats! This certainly surprised us at first… but we now understand why our way of conducting virtual retreats is so effective.
Why Are In-Person Retreats the Worst Superspreaders?
COVID-19 spreads through tiny droplets that are continually emitted by breathing or talking. This aerosol transmission spreads these suspended droplets throughout a room.
With every out breath, an infected person sprays out more and with every in breath everyone else in the room takes in more, regardless of social distance.
The probability of catching the virus is directly proportional to the length of time you’re exposed to it. It’s cumulative. With each breath, you take in more. Compounding this, each time the infected person breathes, more tiny droplets are sprayed out into the room to produce a denser accumulated cloud of virions.
All things considered, what makes it certain that an in-person intensive retreat will spread COVID-19 is the length of time we’re in the room together, unmasked, talking, just breathing, and sharing the air.
There’s no way to know if any one of us is infected. Maybe you just got it traveling, dining out, or where you’re staying. Maybe we just picked it up from our previous clients, but are not yet showing symptoms.
In an intensive retreat, we’re sharing the air in a room for eighteen hours. The math is straightforward. Everyone in the retreat room will become infected if anyone is an asymptomatic carrier. Fancy ventilation won’t be enough to prevent transmission.
What about Wearing Masks or Being Vaccinated?
Masks help keep us from spreading the virus if we are infected. Masks are also effective at preventing us from catching the virus.
But wearing a mask during an in-person retreat is like an oxymoron. It would contradict what a retreat is about and would prevent it from being effective.
Part of a retreat is about lowering one’s defenses and engaging in emotional reconnection. It’s about getting to be more your real selves with each other. That’s like “un-masking” if you will.
At this time we are hopeful that vaccines will provide a solution to working in person again. But we are not out of the woods yet. While it looks like vaccination keeps people from getting severely sick, three factors endanger the success of current vaccines.
First, viral variants are gaining strength over vaccines, being more easily transmitted and more deadly. Second, our “freedom-loving” nature renders us likely to prolong the spread of increasingly strong mutations. Third, many countries not having resources to inoculate their populations remain hot spots for ever stronger mutations to evolve.
These three factors put us in a tight race against the virus. We pray the vaccines will enable us to win. We are more than ready “to be done” with the virus.
When Will We Offer In-Person Retreats?
Again, we would like to say “Now!” But given the state of the pandemic and the super spreading power of in-person retreats, we cannot yet say now is the time.
Some of our clients are very vulnerable. Playing any part in spreading COVID-19 goes against the healer’s oath: “First, do no harm.”
We could not claim to be healers if we ignored this. Thus, as vaccines have not yet won the day, and increasingly powerful viral variants are spreading, it is not time yet to start conducting in-person retreats.
Meanwhile, know that it is just a myth that meeting in-person is better. Based on our experience for over a year now, we have consistently found that our Zoom retreats are at least as effective as meeting in person. And sometimes more so!
Yes, couples have told us their virtual retreats turned out to be even more effective than in-person would have been. See feedback from our virtual retreat clients.
As a pioneer of the intensive private marriage retreat format, we have been conducting retreats for three decades. We have developed a best-in-class approach to working with couples. We can be as effective via Zoom as in person.