I like to invent my own “spiritual” retreats. They emulate the types of retreats monks and seekers partake. Instead of traveling to the Himalayas or to South America, I set up my music room at home as sacred space. I set aside a few days and reserve them in my day-planner so as to keep them free from other obligations.
I had been planning to get away this Autumn at the Vipassana Center north of San Francisco. However, concerns about travel during the Covid-19 pandemic and the recent forest fires in that area required me to put those plans on hold. So, I’ll be in the middle of another home-style retreat this year. I’ll be in retreat at the time this post has been automatically published by WordPress. This means that reading and responding to bloggers will take place, but only during my “recess hours” of the retreat.
I loosely model the formal retreats after one I took several years ago at the Vipassana Centre in British Columbia, Canada. My retreats are formally structured to include formal meditation sessions, outdoor walks, and times for reading from wisdom literature. I restrict communication on the Web to strict parameters during a break in mid-morning, then all electronic devices are shut off again. Regarding this blog, I created posts ahead of time, to be published automatically each day of the scheduled retreat. To the Internet world, there appears to be no change in my daily life during retreat.
In my opinion, it is helpful and healthy to set aside periods of introspection, withdrawal, and retreat. These situations can last from a few minutes of contemplation each day up to formal retreats at venues in picturesque locales, far away from home. The longer, multi-day retreats are used to check in with the “inner self” to recalibrate life and priorities. They are also useful for intense, focused study and traditional meditation. If a person is able to set aside the time, the opportunity for a lengthy retreat at home or away is helpful to one’s inner and outer natures.
We become so caught up in the search for happiness and gratification, that we experience frustration, anxiety, and confusion. It is helpful to retreat–even for a few minutes. Meantime, during longer retreats at a peaceful meditation center or in self-styled ones, one has the chance to examine the deep nature of oneself. The retreat is when sorting out priorities may happen. The retreat, regardless of length, is a time of letting go.
I hope you can find time, even a few moments, to go on your own version of retreat.