Retreat Time, what image or feeling does that bring up for you? How often do you take a retreat? Daily, when you meditate? Weekly, when you have a lazy Saturday morning? Or does the word “retreat” invite you to a different space, a space of quiet, soothing, silent nourishing time just for you?
In mainstream language, retreat means to “fall back from“, something like a battle or war. For me retreat is a spiritual word, that evokes images of rest, peace and calm.
One of my best friends (now passed on) Sister Anna, was a Franciscan nun. Part of her work was to take a week in the fall and in the spring, and go on “Retreat”. A full week!!! Not a weekend, not an afternoon, but an entire week! I was so envious of her. At the time I was a young mother homeschooling 4 rowdy boys, and all I wanted to do was get away and experience quiet, without all the demands of mothering, housekeeping and my various obligations. Even then, I could see the value, the gift that taking time away can give to us.
As the years have passed, I have learned that I have to make my own retreat happen; no one will set it up for me, no one will give me permission slip to run away from it all. There’s no one else who knows what I need to feed my spirit. And I can tell you it changes. For years my retreat was a long walk, on a regular basis, and walking alone was the best! Then I began to do little overnight stays at a hostel (very cheap) near my home. It was 70 miles away, but seemed like a universe away from my responsibilities and obligations. I joined a lovely women’s group, where we do an annual retreat gathering. There is lots of visiting and lots of quiet for contemplation and journaling.
Now I try to do a get away retreat to a lovely space at least one time a year. Each month, I also put in my calendar a day where I find time and space to nourish my spirit. Sometimes I go with my life partner, sometimes with my business partner, but retreats are key to my spiritual life.
My last mini retreat was here at my home. I turned off my phone and my computer for 24 hours. I took a day to read, to journal, to meditate, to do some planning, to eat unhurriedly and with great enjoyment. I went to bed early and slept well. It was lovely and didn’t cost me anymore than the commitment to take the day off from all my obligations.
Here are my six suggestions for planning your retreat time:
- Set your intention to make time for yourself and retreat time and space. That means getting out your calendar and connecting with that intention and putting in the calendar. I do a weekly and monthly review of my calendar, and at the beginning of every month I look for space for quiet time.
- Find a book or class that provides you with monthly inspirations. Mystery School of the Goddess has a variety of classes to inspire you to be your best spiritual self.
- Seek out a quiet space near where you live, to visit on a regular basis. It could be a park, a lake, a retreat center, the foothills, a cabin, a bird sanctuary, a botanical garden or your own back yard. Go with the intention of connecting with nature, peace, quiet and your own self.
- Take your journal and see what arises in the writing. Allow yourself to just ponder life, you, your hopes, dreams, sadness, grief, joy, delight and challenges. See where your soul is calling you to pay attention.
- Go for a walk around your neighborhood, at the local park, hiking paths, the local walking trail at the lake, the river or the the mountain. For me, walking is meditation, it allows me to breathe deeply, and gives me insights no other activity exposes.
- Take a bath. One of my favorite quotes is by Sylvia Plath: “There must be quite a few things a hot bath won’t cure, but I don’t know many of them.”
Enjoy Your Retreat!!! I wish you great retreat time to honor yourself, to find quiet in a noisy world and to allow Spirit to nourish you.