I had the good fortune to be able to enter a five day retreat this Easter. The retreat was an opportunity to spend time to simply take time to Be. The focus of the retreat was stages of training the mind with a particular focus on loving kindness and forgiveness.
A retreat whether it be a day,five days, 10 days or longer is a wonderful gift to give yourself and others. It is an opportunity to simply get to know your mind by spending time quietly observing your thoughts, physical sensations and action urges. The aim of a retreat is let your mind settle into its true nature. If you have never been on retreat, it is good to start slowly, by planning a morning or an afternoon for quiet time. As you become more familiar with taking time for retreat the time you spend for retreat can gradually increase. You can create a retreat atmosphere at home, by planning to switch your phone, ipad and computers off for a morning and setting aside a special place for meditation and awareness. You can use the time simply observing nature, writing in a journal or quietly sitting a watching your breath.
Coming out of retreat can also have its challenges. Even though I had five days of focusing on practices of kindness and forgiveness the stress of my work life quickly challenged me.
Meditation tools, such as creating a special space for practice, help to focus our busy minds. Photos of images reminding us to practice or helpful phrases or affirming books are also tools for enabling our mind to settle and focus.
Mini retreats or mini pause moments are also moments of retreat for our busy mind. Pause moments can be a mini vacation that returns our mind back its present calm state and can be helpful to maintain the positive effects of retreat.