As many of you know, I head out into the desert for a week every August, to spend time listening and wandering among the ruins and hoodoos
English: Fritz Swanson took this picture of the Fajada Butte in the summer of 2005. The Butte stands at the entrance to Chaco Canyon in the northwest New Mexico. Chaco Culture National Historical Park. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
How can you create your own retreat, even if you can’t get away for an entire week?
Retreat isn’t about moving away from your life, but toward your core values, personal truth and definite best. While we retreat from distractions and energy drains, we embrace the practices and habits that give us sustenance and allow us to bring it in our everyday life.
To create your very own retreat, decide on a time and a set of core practices that you know fill your heart. Start with three days. If you can take three days off from obligations of work and social life that’s great, but if you want to have a retreat in concert with your everyday life that’s great, too. Either way, mark this time as special: you might begin with a massage, an extra special yoga class or simply a solo hike. Let the people in your everyday life know that during these days you won’t be taking on extra tasks. Consider taking an email and phone break, if only before and after work.
Consider changing your routine and surroundings regardless of whether you plan to take time off. Make the house extra neat and clean, enlist a family member to have quiet coffee or tea with you in the morning. Set your space up with the books you want and any other resources you desire: yoga mats, blocks, blankets, bolsters, DVDs or streaming videos, special bath salts. Make sure the cupboards are stocked with food that will make you feel good. You might decide to eat lightly during this time.
Decide which distractions to eliminate and what practices to embrace during this time. Begin by considering your “ideal day.” If you could have anything and everything you wanted for 24 hours, what would that look like? Would you sleep for 10 hours and have a luxurious yoga practice with meditation upon wakening? Spend the afternoon reading inspiring, soul-filling books or go on a challenging hike? Would you eat all vegetarian or buy extra special wine to go with dinner? Think minimal distraction, maximum practice. What would feed your soul?
Finally, design how you will avoid the inevitable distractions. On my retreat trips, I go as far away from civilization as I can get in the contiguous 48… and recently, I was able to get cell service. I’ve learned that I have to turn the phone off and make it inaccessible to maintain my chosen discipline. If I bring my computer for writing, I disable the wi-fi. The point is to go inward, cultivate silence and listen for what comes from deep within.
Make this a pampering time as much as one of discipline. Have your favorite healthy food, best bath salts and linens, go to your favorite location. If you take time literally away, expect the first three days to be an emptying out. Journal, draw, walk, record the insights and fears… but always relate to them as interesting products of your thinking, not necessarily as reality. Reality is here and now, this breath, this sigh. Keep coming back to your breath. If you’re taking more than three days, you can anticipate a great calm after you’ve cleaned the pipes.
How do you connect with your core truths and self? A retreat – whether on your own or joining a planned event – is a great way to reset and restore your factory settings. Do you remember what those are? Find out! Treat yourself to your own retreat.