Recently, I was speaking with a client who is approaching a milestone birthday. She shared with me that what she really wanted as a gift was to retreat for a few days alone without family or friends. She expressed her feelings of “guilt” because she wanted to be alone, and felt anxious about going on a retreat as she’s never really been alone for an extended period of time. This got me thinking about how Smart Women understand that it’s essential to rest, recharge and renew—alone.
Women wear many hats and take care of a lot of people. Most days we work “8 to faint” being mothers, wives, partners, friends, daughters, siblings, business owners and community activists. It can feel uncomfortable to desire being alone because of the overwhelming responsibilities and to-do list; however, it’s necessary if you are to live a passionate, energetic and meaningful life.
I remember when I went on my first retreat some years ago. I traveled to Ojai, California, to a retreat center. The rooms were basic with no TV’s, no internet, and no phones. Cell phone use was only permitted in the rooms. The retreat center had a “silent” policy, which meant it was understood that no words were spoken at any time or with anyone. Get the idea? The only person I was to be in conversation with was me—my authentic self.
I felt a little uneasy and scared when I arrived. I’d never been silent for 24 hours in my life! There were moments when I wanted to pack up and run home to my family. After a few hours, I eased into my silent retreat and began to enjoy the space and solitude that I had created for myself to reflect, recharge and renew.
How about you? When was the last time you really reconnected with you–your authentic self? If you feel overwhelmed, stuck, or trapped in some area of your life, a retreat may be just what you need. If you’re feeling ready but unsure how to make the most of it, here are a few solutions:
1. Pick a spot – You get to choose what type of retreat you’d like to experience. Maybe you’d like to retreat at a spa where you can enjoy all of the pampered services. You may want to go “bare bones” to a basic retreat center. And, by the way, you can retreat at your home if you are on a budget; I’ve done this several times.
2. Say Yes to no phones, TV, or email – this is a really important ingredient to a successful retreat. The idea is to reconnect with your authentic self. If you have someone with whom you must stay in touch, schedule time for a 5- to 10-minute check-in. (I invite you to make arrangements at home so that no check-in is needed, if at all possible.) Those emails and favorite TV shows will be there when you return—I promise.
3. Practice solitude – I took a meditation class a few years ago, and I make this a part of my life and retreat experience. Don’t panic if you haven’t practiced meditation before. Just sitting quietly is a form of meditation. Focus on your breathing, and free your mind from distractions. Practicing this for just 5 to 10 minutes a day can make a big difference in the quality of your retreat time.
4. Practice journaling – When your mind becomes quiet and you get centered, you may discover some new ideas and dreams that you’d like to consider once you’ve finished retreating. Bring along some unlined paper, colorful markers, or a favorite pen to record your thoughts.
5. Sleep in/Take a walk – I’m an early riser; however, when I’m on a retreat, I typically don’t set an alarm. I ease into the process of greeting the day. Retreat centers and spas almost always have beautiful grounds and surroundings. Taking a walk can release those healthy, happy endorphins in your body and support you in feeling gratitude for this special time in your life.
I’ve just spent the last few days doing a mini-retreat here in my home. My husband and children are in Utah with my in-laws having a wonderful time, and I’ve enjoyed some quiet solitude mixed in with the work that I love doing with Smart Women. Practicing solitude has become a necessity in my life. It’s like breathing—I have to have it in order to live. I invite you to start making plans for your very own retreat where you can rest, recharge and renew.
Anything is possible. Everything is waiting for you.
© 2010 Joy Chudacoff
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