Imagine yourself in a place of complete peace—where quiet serenity washes over you, wholly and completely, and dishes and laundry are no more.
This is not a place for tasks and to-do’s or emotional burdens of any sort; no, this is a space full of powerful, empowering love and acceptance. It is a precious pocket of pure renewal.
Sounds pretty amazing doesn’t it?
Silent retreats (also called mindfulness or seclusion retreats) have been used for centuries as a technique for renewing and resetting the mind and body. The purpose is to retrain the mind to be fully present while giving the body some space to unwind and heal.
In a society where stress reigns supreme and millions suffer from emotional, mental and physical burnout, it’s become pretty clear that as a whole we are in need of a break just like this.
If you’re currently dealing with an overwhelming desire to escape daily life, run back to bed and hide under the covers, a silent retreat may be just what you need to reset and confront the world anew.
While many mindfulness retreats are held at group meeting centers, there’s no reason why you can’t create the same environment at home! Just know that you’ll need to exercise a bit of willpower to ensure your daily distractions don’t get in the way.
Here are my best tips for how you can create your own amazing silent retreat at home with ease:
Step 1: Getting in the Mindset
- Allow yourself the luxury of taking time away. Not only do you need this retreat, you deserve it! Set intentions to focus on yourself in a way that prioritizes quality, not quantity.
- Prioritize your need to replenish personal resources. You can’t pour yourself into others if you aren’t filled yourself.
- Look at this holistically. Focus on rejuvenating all aspects of your health: sleep, nutrition, meditation, exercise, relationship, etc.
- Take note of how you feel right now, in the “before” stage. Are you depressed in any way? Are you feeling low-energy? Irritable? Make note of where you’re starting from.
- Get over any fears you have about spending time in silence alone. There is no need to fret about being vulnerable to growth.
Step 2: Preparing and Enjoying Your Space
- Start slow. If you’ve never taken a mindfulness retreat before, start by blocking out just a day or two to get used to it.
- Set some intentions. What do you want to accomplish, create or grow? Do you want to just relax and let go? Do you want to reconnect to your spirituality or to God? Do you want to feel re-energized? Do you want to get in touch with your creativity?
- Ask for the time you deserve. If you have a family, silence is much harder to find. Set up a sleepover or play date for your kids and schedule time when your partner or spouse is away. In this case, it’s time to focus on you.
- Set up some structure. Silent retreats are about investing in your emotional and spiritual wellness, not losing all sense of time. Decide how you’d like to structure your days: Meditation, spiritual reading, walking or quietly enjoying a homemade meal are all great options.
- Just be. Give your time purpose, but do not force yourself into your bad habits of busyness. Relax and take the day as it comes. Eat when you’re hungry, walk when you have energy, sleep when you’re tired. Just be.
- Let “silence be the altar of the Spirit.” Try to create a space for you and just you. But if you must be around people for any reason, remain in silence and focus on you. Fall into that rhythm of seclusion.
- Give yourself a media detox. This is not a place for Netflix, the radio or the news. Don’t document your retreat on Instagram. Share what you learned during your retreat later! Now is the time for peace.
- Name your fears and establish peace. In day-to-day life, our minds are restless, fraught with busyness and burden. Name those things that come to mind during your retreat and then move on.
Step 3: Focusing on Re-Entry
- Know that getting back to daily life can be difficult. It’s easy to want to stay in that “precious pocket of pure renewal,” but daily life calls. Know that every retreat comes to an end.
- Create new habits. Your silent retreat should be a time of learning and rejuvenation. Find new techniques for dealing with stress and use them day-to-day until your next retreat.
- Focus on the goodness that still surrounds you. Take note of spiritual goodness and presence that is around you and dive into it daily.
- Connect with people in new ways. After your retreat, start focusing on what really matters: love, kindness and relationship. Write to an old friend you haven’t spoken to in a while, or meet a buddy for coffee!
- Make your mindfulness retreats a ritual. Make it a point to do this again. Decide to do something like this twice a year, or once a month—whatever makes sense for you.
Mindfulness retreats can be a wonderful ritual that keeps us centered, grounded and gives us space to rejuvenate when we need it most. They’re “sacred pauses” in the midst of the whirlwind of life.
Elizabeth Gilbert once said, “This is what rituals are for. We do spiritual ceremonies as human beings to create a safe resting space for our most complicated feelings of joy or trauma, so that we don’t have to haul those feelings around with us forever, weighing us down. We all need such places of ritual safekeeping.”
Enjoy your retreat, dear friends. You deserve it!