Rituals and mindfulness for exquisite self care.
3 Ways to Take a Retreat Without Even Packing!
Since time began humans, especially women, have understood their need to withdraw from time to time from his or her usual routines and habits, or the company of others.
Equipped with a brain that functions with an average rate of 48 thoughts a minute (70,000 a day!) taking a deliberate break from the usual busyness of life is as important as sleeping. In this age of technological multi-stimulation, where we are bombarded from every angle and in every minute with stuff vying for our attention, so many fascinating media rabbit holes to go down, it is ever more challenging to discipline ourselves to simply stop doing and find a way of just being.
For those who are able, taking the time out to go on an organised retreat is a loving practice in self-care, because it allows for a severing from every day stress, logistics and obligations.
A retreat can catalyse change and renew inspiration in our lives. It lends time to clear out the habits we wish to break, it allows us to reassess our values, to discover new truths, and it inspires our path forward. A retreat also helps us to reconnect with our inner selves and check in with our aspirations and dreams. Regular withdrawal can enhance our vitality, favour connection to our life’s purpose and is often a transformational experience that gives the practitioner a sacred space to restore, strengthen and heal. In departing from our loved ones for a while, we're always happy to see them again!
So back to real life. In spite of knowing all of this, most of us don't prioritise a regular pattern of withdrawal until a health, relationship issue or other crisis prompts us to take radical measures.
So soldered are we into the system of material achievement, we'll give ourselves a hundred excuses why we must just keep hammering away with perpetual doing and constant thinking. In doing so, we shrink the precious space given to rest, recuperation and reflection.
Time, money, and obligations to others are the top excuses (I've been there often!) What if you tried a few ways of taking a retreat without ever leaving home? And just suppose you committed to taking time out? That it became the most important ritual you care about? With regular space just for you, how near you dreams would seem once more! The good news is, it doesn't have to be complicated, and it doesn't have to cost a dime. There are simple ways to retreat right where we are!
First things first:
1. Awakening from sleep is the most important time of the day. It allows us to set intentions, perform rituals, prepare mentally and physically for the day. It may sound odd, taking a retreat at the beginning of the day but many women have only that space to juggle with in their daily agenda.
Over the years, I've learned to value the awaking zone as the most valuable time of the day to retreat. In silence and after deep rest, when others are sleeping and before all the day's demands begin, a time to be empty or reassess is the most creative and effective time of all. Meditation, self-care, exercise alone, journaling, these are precious moments to set yourself up to be your most amazing self . But you need to claim that space and make sure that others around you respect your need for temporary separation. Phones, pcs, TV, media – all buttons should be OFF. Silence – is golden. Not speaking for a while is the fastest way to connect with your soul. Meditative music will enhance the atmosphere of sacredness. It is important to feel supremely comfortable.
You are Not Available until you're ready. In a shared house, it may take others a bit of time to accept your need to not be disturbed for a while, but they'll get over it. A retreat like this in the morning can take 5 minutes or 50. You can allow as much or as little time as you have. But in the act of taking this time out, you declare self-love before you begin the day.
Right here, right now
2. During the bustle of the day, once our brains are on auto-pilot with stuff to get done, there are opportunities to take mini-retreats from right where we stand or sit. With attention to our breath or even a murmured mantra of reminding, it is even possible to disconnect from your surroundings in a room or bus full of people. The key here is to deliberately step outside of our own thought patterns and become the watcher of that is with detachment. All day long we're making judgements about people, ourselves and events continually. The art of mindfulness is the art of slowing down the maelstrom of analysis we tend to do without cease. Even those of us who understand the inter-connectedness of the universe and function with great empathy to our world, it is refreshing to clear our perceptions by endeavouring to see the world around us without constantly giving it labels. If you can, practise taking judging words out of your vocabulary – for yourself and others. Try to see the humanity in everything. If you feel in safety, simply close your eyes and be GONE for a while. Put on dark sunglasses and a hat and go for a walk incognito. Pass amongst the busy-ness as if you were doing so for the first time.
The Kingdom of you
3 Remember how to daydream? Day-dreaming is the most powerful way of taking time out. In your imagination, you fully inhabit your inner world. Learn to visualise powerfully and creatively. As children we day-dreamed naturally and regularly. It was a vital part of growing into who we are. Fantasy, if it is in benevolence to all things is wonderful place to visit. Nobody else is there! No one can hear you. No one can see what you do. Visualisation is meditation on steroids. If you can't conjure up pictures, there are plenty of superb guided visualisations online, for every taste!
You can also doodle, write in a journal, sketch, play music, sing and dance! Carry around or wear some kind of symbolic object that represents your goals. Play with it in your hand during the day as a trigger to re- visit the kingdom where everything you desire plays out as you wish. In doing so, you are deliberately activating the good old laws of the universe to come to your aid. It sounds so simple but day-dreaming is one of the most powerful ways to transform your life! If you can take special time out for this. Go and hide in nature or in a special building that feels sacred to you. Tell no-one about your day dreams, except maybe the ones who truly love you for your truth.
Retreating is less about logistics and more about sacred ritual. None of these mini retreats need take very long, but the daily integration of these little sanctuaries of time are an affirmation of your deep commitment to your destiny. Just hide, breathe and imagine...