WHY DO WE RETREAT?
We retreat to get away from it all and collect our energy that is otherwise spread out in multiple directions for inner growth. All the stress, noise, responsibilities and distractions of everyday life melt away and we are able to get back in touch with who we are and what is important to us. We use the fresh perspective that a new environment provides to reconnect with ourselves and find our flow. Sometimes we learn something new or understand a situation that has been troubling us. Sometimes we meet someone who inspires us. Most often we are simply reset and reinvigorated and return home hoping to keep this fresh perspective alive.
WHAT HAPPENS WHEN WE RETURN HOME?
We leave our retreat with clarity, an open heart and mind, and renewed energy. We can’t help but want to bring these qualities home with us and perhaps share our experience with those we love. The first few hours and days back at home can be spent in a blissful state of possibility. We recite our mantras, we practice gratitude and we look at life through a retreat lens…for a while. Unfortunately, for most of us, this blissful state wanes too soon after we walk in the door of our normal life and over time, life as usual takes over. Our daily environment, work, stress, responsibilities, relationship pressures, old habits, well-worn routines and distractions of all sorts swallow up our best intentions to bring our retreat experience home.
Wait a minute! The whole point of the retreat experience is to gain clarity and yet we somehow lose touch with this clarity as we move away from the experience?? Why do our best intentions to remain open and bring our retreat experience home so often fail? While there are a variety of reasons we are challenged to cultivate our retreat experiences at home, I am going to highlight what I feel are the two most important and offer tips to integrate our retreat experience into our daily lives.
#1 Our home environment is not set up for success. What if we prepared to come home as much as we prepared for our journey? In order to bring our retreat experiences home, we need to start preparing before we ever pack our bags.
TIPS TO HELP BRING OUR RETREAT EXPERIENCE HOME BEFORE YOU LEAVE:
- Fix what is not working. Make a list of things in your environment that are broken and no longer working…the things that you are just putting up with like systems that are broken, relationships that need care or repair, piles of stuff waiting to be organized, actual broken things, etc. Pick 3-5 of these to eliminate or resolve before your retreat.
- Stay healthy in your current environment. Start healthy routines and self-care before you go on your retreat. Just as we tend to eat poorly before starting a diet, we can let our health go in the days and weeks leading up to our retreat. Creating a strong and healthy foundation in your life before you retreat will support your changes when you return.
- Slow down and pay attention. Become curious about your internal experience and take time for self-reflection. Cultivate a practice of getting in tune with yourself for a few moments each day.
#2 The retreat is only a small part of the clarity we seek. Clarity is the culmination of all that is learned but not yet integrated. On retreat, without the backdrop of the daily routine of life, we are able to see themes and patterns of growth that were going on in small baby steps. These baby growth steps bring us to an “aha moment” or a moment of clarity when we can look back and understand all of the necessary steps that it took to get us here. Part of the problem is that we view the aha as a singular solitary moment when it is actually the culmination of everything that came before. The aha moment is, in essence, the “peak of critical knowledge.” Standing at the peak, we can see the progression of experiences that lead us here and the confusion that we lived in before the aha. We can also see what is not working and what we need to change in order to live the life we desire.
TIP TO HELP BRING OUR RETREAT EXPERIENCE HOME RIGHT BEFORE YOU LEAVE:
- Ground the experience in your body to take it with you! Yes, you need to find a way to physically take this experience with you. One way is to ground the experience in your belly center; your center of power and intuition. In Japanese martial arts this is the reservoir of vital energy as well as the center of gravity called the Hara. You can visualize the change you wish to make or the insight you gained living in this center of the body located in your abdomen just below your belly button.
TIPS TO HELP BRING OUR RETREAT EXPERIENCE HOME AFTER THE RETREAT:
- Strengthen the clarity gained on retreat. These insights begin deep inside of you and feel that they have been around (however uncovered) for a long time. Take some time to amplify their meaning through mediation, journaling, or focused action.
- Choose an activity that you enjoyed on the retreat to practice at least once a week at home. It is also fun to introduce your friends and family to these new activities!
- Talk about what is going on inside of you with someone who is present and grounding. This will help you to relive and remember your retreat in detail and integrate the meaningful moments.
WHAT IF I NEED HELP?
I understand that none of these steps are easy. Integrating change requires us to overcome stabilizing forces and inhibitors within our everyday environment. The daily environment can easily swallow up our best efforts with work, family, friends, stress, pressures and responsibilities. Fortunately, I am here to help. If you have a recent aha moment that you would like to integrate at any stage, I would love to help you brainstorm ideas, create strategies or keep you on track to fully realize your aha vision.