You Can Retreat
You might have the idea that “going on a retreat” is a big deal that you need to seriously prepare for. And you might think that retreats are something you just don’t have the time, money, or both for. But what about just one evening a week or ten minutes a day?
Most people I’ve worked with have found an enormous change when they’ve discovered that they actually can take ten minutes (or even a bit more) every day just for themselves. Sounds simple, because it is—but doing it is the real trick.
These breaks add up to hours each month. In fact, ten minutes a day is about the same number of minutes as one 3-day retreat in a year. And the truth is, although a weekend retreat is wonderful, in terms of impact on your life, I don’t think it compares to taking ten minutes each day. A weekend can be easily forgotten, but a daily commitment is a commitment. These breaks in which you start to freely choose the best thing to do “right now” become the beginning of natural self-care entering your life.
If this sounds interesting to you, you can start by finding ten minutes each day for contemplation or for “just being.” You might ask yourself in the beginning: How can I best renew my energy right now? Is it a nap, a walk, a tea by the window? Or lying down outside listening to the natural sounds? It could also be a short and mindful mind-body practice like yoga.
As your answers to these questions become clear, your ten-minute break might naturally move, over time, to an even more simple meditation. Or you might start there directly as well.
Creating a Sacred Place
If you’re going to be stopping for ten minutes a day, why not do it in a nice place? It’s not easy to stop, find balance, and re-center. A sacred place can help. “Sacred” here doesn’t have to mean religious or especially spiritual, but it helps very much if the flavor is kind, uplifting, and peaceful. This can be a comfy chair with a little table or a window area decorated with a soft blanket in your favorite color. It might have some items that remind you of what you love, or of your intentions and vision.
This place will develop peace and power over time as you come there with the same appreciative and calming mind. You can offer some flowers or a candle to whatever beings, including yourself, might enjoy them. Maybe you’d like to listen to meditative music and have your favorite incense there, too? Keep this place beautiful, uncluttered, and clean. In time, you might be surprised to find that the word “sacred” really feels right for this special place. I like to have a little notebook where I meditate, to write down what comes to my mind that I don’t want to forget. You might try that to.
Just Ten Minutes for Meditation
Would you like to see what a ten-minute meditation retreat might be like? First make yourself comfortable, maybe set a timer, and take a moment to breathe a little more deeply. It might help to close your eyes. You might have many thoughts running through your mind. Just watch what’s happening in your body and mind and breathe in and out consciously.
If the thoughts feel overwhelming, have a look at what needs your attention right now. What is loudest? Simply notice. If you need to write something down to remember, just do so. Then let it go, staying open to whatever comes next, a bit curious, not holding on to anything. Go back to breathing consciously whenever you can.
Try placing your hands on your belly and letting the breath elevate and lower them slowly. Always come back and observe, notice and let go. Breathe and observe, notice and let go. Just let the timer run its course, ten minutes.
When you are ready, feel your body, breathe a little deeper and open your eyes. How was your little retreat? Know that this is available to you any time during the day. And know that these times add up. 🙂
Enjoy a peaceful and cozy November week.