Happy New Year.
Whatever resolution you might have set for yourself this year, I wish you all the very best in achieving it. One of the ways we can succeed in meeting our goals is to be fully present.
The way to be alert and aware of yourself and your surroundings is to get to know yourself. And retreat is a powerful way of doing that.
During a retreat we cut ourselves off from the external world (as much as is possible), and redirect energy, focus and attention inwards. In a secluded and distraction-free space (no media, games, novels and so on), we attend to our emotions, thoughts, feelings, and interactions, if any. We notice the constant inner chatter, topsy-turvy mind, and emotional fluctuations.
Being with ourselves in an open and spacious welcoming way will, over time, reveal our usually unconscious motivations, fears, and limiting beliefs.
A journey of self-discovery doesn’t necessarily have to be at a retreat center or in some exotic locale. It can be done in the privacy and comfort of your own home (with a few minor adjustments).
Set aside a dedicated space. It’s optional, but you could set up a little table with a few inspiring items on it. These should be meaningful things that encourage you to persevere in your meditation retreat. Sit in front of it for your meditations.
Your retreat time does not have to be spent only sitting in meditation. Of course, there are retreats with this intensity and focus. But it is important that you structure your retreat to be as nurturing and revealing for you as you want and need.
Your self-time should include some sitting meditation practice. Focusing your mind on your breathing is a powerful healing, centering, and stabilizing tool. You don’t have to necessarily sit in a meditation posture, but it can be helpful in preparing your mind and body for the inner journey.
Dedicate some time to absorb and process your experiences and discoveries about yourself; this can be through journaling, but it can also be simply thinking and reflecting.
If you are new to meditation then you should consider maybe doing 2 or 3 formal sitting meditation sessions of about 10 minutes each. Before you sit down to meditate, read some inspiring, uplifting, and supportive material. Ideally your first meditation session should be before breakfast, the 2nd before lunch, and the 3rd before dinner.
In between sitting sessions, you can read, journal, take a walk, sit quietly, nap, or simply be in nature observing life, and your reaction or response to it. As you are preparing your meals, dressing, showering, and so on, be mindful of what you are doing and your thoughts.
Essentially, focus on activities that will relax you and help you connect to yourself in a new deep and clear way. A calm and rested mind and emotions will help you see yourself, your life, and experiences in a whole different light. Make your retreat a journey of self-discovery.
Friends, I will be in retreat from February until April, so for the next 3 months I won’t be publishing any articles. But check out previous years' articles on my site if you need guidance and inspiration.
May your retreat increase your mindful presence.