What We Learned From Hosting a Wellness Retreat

On March 24, 2018, Evo hosted Ctrl+Alt+Del, its first wellness retreat. The idea to host the retreat emerged from Evo’s model of care that merges both mental health and physical wellness. We saw that there were many wellness retreats out there, but not many that do some of the deeper work that we do.

Since we hope to do more retreats, we decided to get self-reflective. We sat down with retreat facilitators Gali Barak and Koorosh Rassekh to think about what we learned.

Why do you think it was important for Evo to host a retreat like Ctrl+Alt+Del?

Koorosh Rassekh (KR): I really think there’s a benefit for people to combine the skill building, community building, and mindfulness to gain insight into what motivates their decisions and behaviors. It’s useful for anyone to have the space to reflect on how their combination of experiences creates opportunities and limits. Doing this work really helps people to identify new possibilities and open new doors.

Gali Barak (GB): At Evo, I think we have faith in our ability to come at wellness in an out-of-the-box, non-shaming, non-judgmental way. We approach problems with curiosity and understand that there are many nuances to people’s experiences.

These retreats are an opportunity explore what’s possible in one day. We believe strongly in people’s ability to change. Even though change happens gradually, when you open up new ways or more ways of thinking, even one day can start to create change.

  Koorosh lays out a roadmap of the day with participants of Ctrl+Alt+Del.

Koorosh lays out a roadmap of the day with participants of Ctrl+Alt+Del.

What happened during the day? How did it go?

KR: What struck me was how people were diving in and wondering and overcoming fear and really trying to dig in to solve the riddles of life. It takes courage to do this deeper exploration of where you are and where you want to go.

GB: I think that people who have had less conversations like this because they don’t regularly attend therapy were able to gain more. For them, it was a new experience and may have opened some doors they hadn’t opened before.

Other people who attended may have had more experience in therapy had a different experience. I don’t think they found it new. For these attendees, I think they left with deep thoughts and questions. And they may have left wondering where to go from here.

Regardless of where people were coming from, I really was struck by how participants were able to cultivate meaningful connections with one another. Even if these connections don’t transcend the day, it’s powerful to hear someone else say something that makes you realize that you are not alone.

What did you learn for the next retreat?

KR: Hosting a retreat with two facilitators split the focus of the day between Gali’s approach and my approach. I think it may be powerful next time to have a day hosted by one of us rather than both. It’s tough, because you lose some pieces in either day. If I were to do the whole day, you’d lose out on the story piece that Gali brings. If Gali were to do her own day, you’d lose a lot more experiential work. But regardless, I think it would be good to curate a shorter and more focused day. A two day event could also be possible. This way participants could come back the next day after some reflection and they would be able to get a lot out of it.

And it would be great to collaborate with other physical and mental health practitioners out there for future events!

GB: For me, it was interesting to learn about how to balance the day between exploration and focusing on solutions. Does deeper exploration have you coming home and thinking more or do you want practical takeaways? Ideally, of course, it would be both. Next time I would want to think about this more on the front end.

I would want to know more about everyone’s hopes and expectations and run my sessions accordingly. This would allow participants to navigate between their hopes and expectations for the day and the differences.

Koorosh Rassekh is founder and Gali Barak is clinical director at Evo Health and Wellness, a mental health program in Venice, California, that respects where you are and where you want to go.

Koorosh and Gali co-facilitated Ctrl+Alt+Del, Evo’s first wellness retreat. Both trained athletes and therapists, they share an understanding of the deep connections between body and mind. They also each in their own way have gone through deep struggles and found a way to rewrite their own stories as one pathway to change.

Learn more about Evo’s program.