|sweet and savory scenes from the journey so far|
We live in a wonderful world that is full of beauty, charm and adventure. There is no end to the adventures we can have if only we seek them with our eyes open.
Bonjour from a villa in Provence. I’m here with twenty lovely beings from around the world, including my beloved Louis the Pug. Our days are filled with yoga, art journaling, meditation, 3-course veggie meals, and five hours of daily down time. All of this to the sound of crickets, birds, and the rushing river steps away from the villa. Yes, a true tranquil space.
The beauty of this retreat is the sense of spaciousness that permeates the days. The irony is that this sense of spaciousness is also incredibly unsettling at first. The disconnection from life’s hustle and bustle is not a simple on and off switch for many tied to technology and fast-paced lifestyles. Observing the process of gradually settling into this slower pace has been an eye-opening experience. Summary: slowing down is not easy nor for the faint of heart. It’s hard and, yet, it’s critical for our self-care.
You may be reading this from a deadline-driven day at the office rolling your eyes thinking, “Yeah, right, retreating is hard.” I understand, it sounds silly, but I promise it isn’t easy. One great movement I’ve observed over the past few years is the encouragement to simplify and slow down within our regular routines. A sort of staycation in daily life. There are ideas such as “switch off Sundays,” “a day of unplugging,” and observing the Sabbath even if you’re not Jewish. If you’ve ever joined these efforts, you may have noted how hard it is to break patterns and then how intoxicating it is to settle into a new way of being.
To help illustrate this point and assist you with finding a tranquil space within, I’ve created a few tips to help ease the discomfort associated with a slower way of being:
1. Set a retreat date. This may be an organized retreat with a group to some exotic locale, a day in bed with your furry 4-legged friend, or an afternoon of picnicking in the park during your lunch break.
2. Prepare for the retreat. Begin gathering your tools for the experience such as a few good books, a journal to pen your thoughts, and other necessary accoutrements. Align expectations with reality such as the insects that may disrupt your picnic by bringing a cover for your fruit and cheese platter.
3. Start the disconnection process. Set up an autoreply if you’ll be out of touch for more than a few days. Slowly wean yourself off of constant email checking, Facebook updating, Pinterest pinning, and tweeting.
4. Retreat time. Use this time to turn your attention internally. Soak up the experience. Notice sensations in your body. Feel your breath. Observe your monkey mind. Keep pen and paper nearby to jot down inspiration.
5. Let it unfold. Many creatives find this spacious time to be the foundation of new ideas for projects and transitions. Stay open to new experiences. Take time to smell the flowers. Listen to the sounds around you.
As I’ve been writing, heaps of white butterflies have floated before a gorgeous vista of Provence mountains. Louis the pug is snoring on my lap and my shoulders have softened away from my ears. The choice to retreat is ours and it can happen by following the five steps above at home or in a mediterranean setting. Remember that state of mind is a choice. Choose wisely. Choose to retreat.