While I’m in my five senses
they send me spinning
all sounds and silences,
all shape and colour
as thread for that weaver,
whose web within me growing
follows beyond my knowing
some pattern sprung from nothing –
a rhythm that dances and is not mine.
– Judith Wright, Australian poet
I often find myself hibernating in the winter, feeling everything, almost like a renewal into another time, another space — a new beginning. It’s cold and rainy or snowy, and the fireplace beckons me. I pull out the books I want to read in the winter, mostly about all things mindful.
Lately, though, I’ve been making an effort to read “lighter” books or even get back into my hobby for all things culinary. So, I pull out my cook books and write down all the new things I want to try for the winter. This year, it’s going to be a vanilla bean crème brulee, and a Pavlova with mascarpone cheese mixed in with the whipping cream.
My daughter and I are also going to perfect homemade baguettes and pasta with the new pasta machine. I’d also like to try a lemon ricotta gnocchi.
That’s how I retreat in the winter: into the home, with some things that I love to do and can share with my family.
What does it mean to go on a mindfulness retreat?
Retreat is a funny word, isn’t it? When I talk to my sister and say, “We should plan to go on a yoga retreat or a meditation retreat or a spa retreat,” it has the connotation of being tucked away and immersed into something we love to do and want to experience.
The word also means, according the dictionary, “an act or process of withdrawing especially from what is difficult, dangerous, or disagreeable.”
I sometimes feel the need to retreat because the daily stresses of family, work, and relationships. Sometimes it all seems so overwhelming. And retreating really would be a form of withdrawal for me. Getting away, not having to make decisions, no computers, no devices, no arguments -- just being.
So many organized “sanctuary” mindfulness retreats to choose from…
It’s been on my to-do list to attend a mindfulness retreat, which would entail being away from home and work for 10 days. There are also retreats that are 1 to 10 days, some even a month long.
The beautiful thing about these organized and expertly run retreats is that everything is included: someone typically has mapped out a schedule, so there are no decisions to be made. You know exactly when to get up, what to eat for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks, exactly how much to eat, and all the activities you’ll do during the day.
There are silent retreats where you don’t talk to anyone, and meditate in the morning and walk during the day. There is no writing or journaling; you’re present in every sense of the word. And, typically for silent retreats, a teacher speaks in the morning and then again in the evening. But other than that, you meditate, walk, eat, and sleep.
The reality is, with my daughters and the work that I’m currently doing, I can’t get away and retreat into a sanctuary right now; so I’m working on other ways in which I can nourish myself and feel alive, joyous, and re-energized on a weekly basis.
Shahin’s do-it-yourself mindfulness retreat
Here are some tips on how you can have your own retreat in your home without travelling to an expensive retreat space.
- First, set aside the time for yourself, this could be a weekday or a weekend.
- Set aside a quiet space for yourself, and have a yoga mat and a comfortable chair and blanket nearby. The yoga mat would be for gentle stretches, meditation and/or yoga moves that you would do during the day.
- Now make a schedule for yourself, so you’re not making decisions during your retreat day or weekend. You can download a sample schedule here.
- Be sure to prepare your meals ahead of time. If you’re combining retreat with a total rejuvenation, you can do a juice cleanse at the same time and have the juices delivered to you the day before. (In Vancouver, I’ve done a juice cleanse from The Juice Truck Store.)
- Choose the music or sounds that help you feel peaceful in the present moment. Instead of meditation teachers, try using a CD or YouTube lesson that teaches such mindfulness practices as breathing meditations, body scans, and sound meditations. (My go to mindfulness breathing and body scans are from Thich Nhat Hanh. One I really like is “Deep Blissful Meditation.”)
- If you decide you would like to try out some mindfulness activities with your family, check out these blog posts from Mindful Changes.
Mindfulness for the family: For an evening of mindful fun, try these games and activities.
With Remembrance Day just around the corner, maybe plan a family hike and include the mindfulness tips from this article.
If you have 6 to 8-year-olds, here are some mindful tips you can incorporate into a mindfulness retreat with your kids.
How did it go?
I’d love to hear your comments on how these ideas worked for you. Contact me and let me know!
If you’d like more help with setting up a retreat, call or email me and let’s talk.
Mindfulness classes and workshops in Vancouver
Looking for Vancouver-area mindfulness courses? Look no further!