Whether you are attending an organized, multi-day event or spending a quiet afternoon at home, retreats are a wonderful way to reconnect with yourself. Here are some tips we’ve found especially helpful in preparing for a retreat:
What is your heart’s desire? What is your hope? What are your intentions for what you will experience, learn, or develop? Before answering these questions, take a few minutes to breathe and ground yourself, tuning into the intelligence of your body, heart, and curious mind. Use a journal to write down your thoughts.
Imagine a ramp or hill with a slight incline in front of you. At the top is your retreat. Take some time and energy before you arrive at your retreat to climb that gentle slope. For example, even if you are only “traveling” to your living room for your retreat, prepare your space with a special sitting area, pen, and paper. If you are traveling a distance, try packing your bags a few days early, while holding your intentions close to heart.
If your retreat involves lengthy meditation or contemplative practices, include some additional time with those practices leading up to the retreat. Allow this preparation time to ease yourself into your sacred time and space apart from the everyday.
You’ve now arrived at the top of that hill. Use a ritual to signify the start of your retreat, such as lighting a candle or turning off your cell phone. This is now your time.
As with the planning of your arrival, the departure from your retreat is just as important.
If possible, ease back into your work or personal obligations. Consider avoiding overly stimulating sights, sounds, and conversations, as these may feel especially intense on your nervous system after a retreat. Using the visual of a ramp, imagine you are walking down a gentle slope, rather than down a steep embankment.
It can be very helpful to draw or journal to help process and reflect on what you experienced. You may want to share out loud your thoughts via conversations, text messages, and social media. You get to decide what and how much you want to share.
Consider that not everyone will respond in a way you want or expect, and their response does not take away from your experience. It can also be frustrating to try and describe a transformative experience in a few sentences. Discerning with whom, what, and how much to share is part of the retreat experience, too.
Join us for our next free monthly Deep Living Dialogue Thursday, April 6, Noon–1 P.M. PST. In this dialogue, we will explore these four aspects of preparing for a powerful personal retreat in detail.
If you are looking for a way of connecting with yourself, we would love to have you at our upcoming Deep Living Retreat on April 27-29, 2023.