Recently, while on a women’s retreat, I had the opportunity to sneak off for a walk by myself in the wild circus of colour this autumn has gifted us with. It was such perfect bliss, and I delighted in the pure joy of breathing in the crisp air, crunching on the riot of colourful leaves, and giving my mind space to think… Simple and Beautiful. Life-giving.
I thought about going home… and wished desperately to hang onto the serenity of the camp retreat in my own home, on my family’s schedule. How can I tuck that away in my heart, and hang on to the peace when I’m dumped into the middle of the chaos that is family life with four kids? How do I breathe deep and experience the calm and inspiration that drenched me over the weekend?
There has to be a way to live between retreats as though still on retreat. So what creates that atmosphere, and how can I recapture it at home? The conclusion I came to is that I can’t. Not fully, at least. At home I have assignments to help with, meals to cook, laundry to fold, and blog posts to write. I’m on call 24 hours a day. I have bedtimes that take 2 hours too long, and nights that are way too short. But. I can choose where my soul finds its strength, and nothing can take that away.
The following are retreat experiences that can be replicated at home:
- Solitude. Take some time every day to simply sit in solitude. I know you have babies, or emails, or dishes… but everyone can find 10 minutes for themselves to just be. Quiet, still, breathing deep. Have no agenda, have no noise other than soft instrumental music. Breathe in, breathe out.
- Prayer. Spending time in prayer and/or meditation is easier when you’re tucked away at a camp retreat, but it can be done consistently at home if you’re living intentionally. Set the alarm a few minutes earlier, wind down for the night a little earlier. 10-20 minutes per day.
- Sleep. Listen to your body and make sure you’re getting enough sleep. Drink the tea, have the warm bath, read the book… whatever it takes to wind down and drift off to dreamland. Heck, I’m not against prescription sleeping pills if you’re regularly fighting insomnia.
- Read. Download books on Kindle, borrow books from the library, listen to audiobooks… Scrolling Facebook does NOT count. Read big juicy novels, read self-help books, read kids’ books. Read often, and voraciously!
- Walk. Bundle up if it’s cold, wear comfy shoes and gloves, put your earbuds in and walk. Walk until your thighs burn, walk until your thoughts slow, walk until your heart feels light. Just walk.
- Connect. A vital element of a retreat is connection. We are social creatures (yes, even us introverts!) and we need connection with other humans. Go for coffee with a friend, take someone on a walk with you, bring a plate of fresh cookies to your neighbour. Exchange a smile and a 1-minute-longer conversation with people you meet. And again, Facebook doesn’t count as true connection.
What are some ways you’ve added retreat habits to your daily life?