As we arrive at the winter solstice here in the southern hemisphere, schedules are heating up and busy-ness abounds for many. It’s a good time, before another month whizzes by, to take the momentum by the hand and S L O W THINGS D O W N.
How do you do that?
As well as all the usual suspects like checking what you’re saying Yes to that could be a No next time, going to bed a bit earlier and so on, a great way to take hold of the reins again is to actually stop. Pause. Rest. Reset.
Perhaps even for a whole day.
Having recently been away on a 6-day meditation retreat, it reminded me that for many people it’s not easy to take off for a week or even a weekend to be on retreat, and yet I’ve had many a nourishing retreat at home. You can too.
It’s totally possible to create a space for yourself to truly pause and recharge. Here are some suggestions for logistics, tools and what not to do … to have your very own retreat at home.
Make a date
Plan ahead if you can and put the day in your diary. It might be a weekend day, or you may have Friday’s off or I know Mum’s who have taken a day off work when the kids are at school. Do what works for you. Bottom line: put it in your diary.
How do you like it?
Each of us has a preference for how we like things to be arranged – some like a method and steps to follow, and others like to know they have options. Consider what your preference is here, and shape your day with this in mind. That means if you like having a methodology to follow, then plan your day to some degree so you can relax and simply move from one thing to another. If you like options, then treat the following ideas as a ‘menu’ for you to select from throughout your retreat day.
Create a space
If you don’t already have a meditation space, it’s nice to set up a corner of a room or a whole room in which to meditate and rest. You may like to place a candle and a flower in a vase there, and make a comfortable place to sit. I have a small altar at one end of my large bedroom, with a small comfortable chair and a folded blanket I put my feet on that I use for meditation. You might prefer to sit on a cushion. Be comfortable. This is sacred space in which to S T O P and B E.
Put the washing pile in a room and close the door. Put newspapers away. Turn off appliances you’re not using. Create a peaceful, restful environment that will allow you to R E S T.
Creating space is also about claiming this day and letting people around you know that you are essentially unavailable. If you were on an actual retreat, you’d be away from home with your phone off, so consider re-creating this for yourself. If you have children at school who you need to be available for, you might put your phone to silent (without vibrate – which is not silent!) and check it every two hours for messages. Take the home phone off the hook. Put your voice mail on. Put your out of office on. This all sounds pretty obvious, but I am continually amazed at how little people utilise their technology to protect their time.
Crafting Your Retreat Day
Here are some key ingredients for a nourishing, restorative retreat day… read on.
“Waking up this morning, I smile.
Twenty-four brand new hours are before me.
I vow to live fully in each moment
and to look at all beings with eyes of compassion [including myself].”
- Thich Naht Hanh