The Whys Behind the Rise

Greetings again from The Reluctant Riser!


In my first 3 posts, I described the remarkable ways the 2018 Weekend Getaway impacted me despite my baseline, not terrifically spiritual outlook on life (A Few Words from a Reluctant Riser). I attended my 2nd Weekend Getaway in 2021, and when I opted out of the Fall 2022 Weekend Getaway, I felt such palpable regret I wrote about those feelings (Regret and the Reluctant Riser).  And yet, even as I plan to attend my third Rise Weekend Getaway retreat this September, some of my old reluctance is creeping in. Despite knowing what to expect and prioritizing myself, I can be resistant and even resentful of wellness as yet another health related goal to attain. So recently, I spent some time digging into the concrete health benefits of a weekend retreat. In other words, I sought to understand the whys behind the Rise!

And here is what I learned:

One of the most common sentiments expressed by past retreat attendees like myself is the joy felt from being together with other women. Well, did you know there is a term for that high or joyful intoxication we feel during these shared experiences? It’s called collective effervescence, a phrase coined by French sociologist Emile Durkheim. In fact, sociologists actually encourage and affirm that women getting together with women in group settings for joy (and pain) are health imperatives. Psychologist Shira Gabriel’s current research reaffirms that “these effervescent experiences fill the human need for belonging in a way that most social psychology research — so long preoccupied with couples, families, and small groups — has tended to overlook. It underscores how customs as ancient as pilgrimages and feast days, and modern as protests and pro sports, help people to lead happier, connected, and more personally meaningful lives.” Another social psychologist, Shira Adler, reinforces that group gathering is linked to fulfillment and personal growth. Her research confirms that the experiences of collective effervescence in our lives are strongly related to “human flourishing.” In a video I watched, Adler explained that “the more people experience collective effervescence, the lower their stress level is, the less likely they are to suffer from depression, the more likely they are to feel as if their life has meaning as if there is a purpose to what they are doing.”  

Going further, I found that the more well known Brené Brown, Ph.D, LMSW also writes about effervescence and collective assembly. Brown explains that collective assembly, be it for joyous or painful events, has long been a part of the human experience. “Collective assembly is more than just people coming together to distract themselves from life …instead it is an opportunity to feel connected to something bigger than oneself; it is an opportunity to feel joy, social connection, meaning, and peace.”  

Our Rise Gatherings founders start with this exact essential premise that humans are wired for connection - that we have primal yearnings for collective experiences. But, like Brené Brown writes and we all know, life gets in the way, and “we don’t show up for enough of these experiences.”  I’ve come to understand (I’m data!) that attending a Rise Gatherings retreat fulfills the human need for collective assembly and creates a shared and lingering sense of collective effervescence.   

But there is even more science to it. Those group activities at Rise -- the dancing, the gathering, the stretching, the forest bathing, the walking, the painting, the yoga, even eating together in a communal space – all contribute to a multi-faceted chemical mood boost which can help jumpstart and keep us on a path of improved physical and mental health. A Washington Post article from 2020 details that an exercise “high” is not limited to long-distance running. In fact, many group movement activities, even those that aren’t high intensity, can induce a dopamine boost and produce a surge of endocannabinoids – both of which result in the joy/high and a longer lasting sense of contentment and connection with those around you. Per Brene Brown, “[a]ny form of exercise can lead to these effects. Move in whatever way feels good or makes you feel good about yourself. And know that you are not just strengthening your heart and your muscles. You are also strengthening your capacity to experience happiness, connection and courage.”

If you, too, are reluctant and want to understand some more, here are links to some of the on-line resources I used if you wish to dive in deeper. Enjoy!