For many of us, the logistics, cost or even just the idea of going away for a multi-day retreat isn’t possible. Yet there are benefits to having some solitary time to reconnect with yourself and quiet your mind and soul. If you are looking for an alternative, I suggest a DIY mini-retreat. It need only take place during the day, say from 8am to 5pm, but you can certainly make it as long as works for you. Here are a few things that you will need to make this happen.
The most important issue is finding a place where no one has access to you. Make certain that everyone knows you are not to be disturbed. Even if you have your own home free during the day, there are just too many distractions so consider getting out of your house. Ask a friend or relative if you can use their place while they are away during the day or if they are out of town for a few days. If you have no alternative, then you can try it at home when you are completely by yourself (say your spouse is traveling and your kids are away). Select a room where you are able to keep it distraction free.
Planning the day is critical so that you aren’t feeling lost and confused as to what to do during the time. So I recommend that you create a detailed schedule in advance for the day. Think of the activities you want to explore during your retreat. Keep them low key and vary them throughout the day. Yoga, sitting meditation, walking meditation, journaling, drawing, reading reflective or spiritual books or poetry are all great choices. I like to set intentions at the start for how I want to be during the day. Something like “I intend to be calm, relaxed and open to whatever arises.” I like to say to myself “joy is an option.” And I like to close the day with a gratitude ritual where I give thanks for all that I have in my life. Here’s an example schedule that you can modify as you like. Print it out or hand write it and decorate it to make it special so that you enjoy referring to it all day.
~My Mini Retreat Schedule~
8 – 8:15 am Sip Warm Lemon Water and Set Intentions
8:15 – 9 am Sitting Meditation
9 – 9:30 am Light Breakfast
9:30 – 10 am Journal
10 – 11 am Yoga
11 – 11:15 am Sip Tea
11:15 am – 12 pm Guided Meditation (Try the Insight Timer app)
12 – 12:30 pm Light Lunch
12:30 – 1 pm Walking Meditation
1 – 1:30 pm Read
1:30 – 2:30 pm Restorative Yoga
2:30 – 3 pm Light Snack
3 – 3:30 pm Journal
3:30 – 4:30 pm Sitting Meditation
4:30 – 5 pm Closing Gratitude Ritual
Remaining in silence throughout the day may feel like a challenge but you will find that the quiet allows you to unwind more fully. On the day of the retreat, make sure that you have an out of office notification for your email and texts. Leave your cell phone off (but make sure that someone knows where you are in case of emergencies). Or at the least turn off all notifications and sounds on your cell phone. It is very important that you surround yourself with calm and peace.
Bring a light lunch and snack for your day, water, tea and maybe a candle if your friend is OK with you lighting a candle in their place. If you use a meditation bench, bring that as well as comfy clothes and a blanket and yoga mat. If you are headed outside at all during the day, find places where you can be solitary and don’t need to speak. When you eat, go really slowly and mindfully enjoy each bite of food. But most of all be kind to yourself and give yourself the space and solitude to feel the benefit of a self-love, self-care mini-retreat.