When your house is full of adults working and children studying, you might crave some quiet moments for reflection. A retreat at home can be just as meaningful and relaxing as traveling to a cabin in the woods.
Taking time out may also cheer you up if you’re feeling sad and anxious about the changes that the recent pandemic has made in your life.
Calm your mind and lift your spirits with these suggestions for retreating in place.
There are many varieties of retreats. Forming an intention will help to narrow your options and guide your efforts.
- Rest and relax. Relieving stress may be your top priority. One morning of restorative yoga and deep breathing could reduce inflammation and fix any sleep issues.
- Increase your mindfulness. Living in the present moment and letting go of judgements builds resilience. Center your retreat around meditation and other mindfulness exercises.
- Deepen your spirituality. Retreats can be adapted for any religious or personal beliefs. Your mind is the only thing you need to have a sacred experience.
Take care of the details in advance. That way you can settle back and nourish yourself when your retreat day rolls around.
- Arrange your space. Maybe you already have a meditation room or a nook with a shrine. Whatever space you use, try to find somewhere quiet and decorate it with objects that inspire you.
- Create a program. Would you host a meeting without an agenda? A written program will help you structure your activities and use your time constructively.
- Browse for resources. Access a vast selection of videos, podcasts, eBooks, and more without leaving home. Search the digital collection at your local library or visit the websites of organizations like Tricycle magazine and Insight Meditation.
- Connect with others. For more fun and enrichment, be social. Invite your partner or children living at home to join you. Organize a group of friends or church members to schedule a retreat on the same day and share some of your sessions online.
- Limber up. Leave your retreat with happy memories rather than a sore back. Stretch daily so you’ll be comfortable sitting for longer periods.
If you become sleepy or restless while meditating, you may run into similar obstacles during a retreat.
- Start small. Three minutes of focused meditation beats an hour of fidgeting and daydreaming. Respect your limits. Allow yourself to progress gradually.
- Limit distractions. Turn off your phone and forget about checking messages for a while. Ask others not to disturb you except for emergencies.
- Schedule breaks. Pause for 10 or 20 minutes in between each session. Stretch and walk around. Drink a glass of water or a cup of herbal tea.
- Dress comfortably. Layer your clothing so you can avoid becoming too cold or too warm. Choose soft garments with a loose fit. Keep a light wrap handy that you can drape over your shoulders.
- Eat light. Foods and beverages that are easy to digest will keep your stomach peaceful too. Prepare meals and snacks in advance. Good choices include yogurt with fruit, vegetable smoothies, and lentil soups.
- Transition back. You may have little to show for your retreat if you rush back to binge-watching reality shows. Enjoy a closing ritual like chanting or self-massage. Try to remain quieter and more deliberate as you resume ordinary tasks.
Once you’ve completed your first home retreat, it’s time to start thinking about putting the next one on your calendar. Blocking out time regularly for relaxation and contemplation will help keep you strong and well.