Day 7: When We Retreat - Stepping Back to Move Forward
By nature, the human self is constantly in a state of doing, creating, managing, and evolving. But we must also make space for our spiritual selves, where we can silence the mind’s busyness, find space to return to our true selves, and connect back to what our spirit and soul truly craves.
In business, the idea to retreat can carry a negative connotation – a failed deal, not fulfilling obligations, stepping back from the opportunity, and ultimately not winning. But in a mindful practice, where we observe both the human self and the spiritual self, retreat gives us the opportunity to step back, check in with our emotional state, and rebalance to find the clarity to move forward.
Any time you can create an opportunity to step back, and identify what is truly important to you, it helps to peel back the layers and observe the patterns, habits, coping mechanisms and created realities we habitually use to stay safe and functioning in the world.
So how do we create this idealistic and safe space to rejuvenate in our endlessly busy lives?
Most importantly, a retreat space does not need to be elaborate, or wait for a fancy holiday location. Your best location may be right in front of you. Maybe it’s a favorite reading chair, your comfy spot on the couch, a yoga mat, or a hot bath at the end of the day. What’s key is that the location is easily accessible, so the mind is less inclined to create reasons why you can’t go there.
When sitting in this space, simply sitting quietly and laying the left palm up in the lap with the right palm laid on top with thumbs connected is helpful. It reconnects both sides of the body, connects the yin and yang, the light and dark, the inhale and exhale. Known as the dhyana mudra, this simple hand placement, or “seal” reconnects our spiritual and human self, and is one of the most common mudras used in meditation practice. It’s simple to do and helps to still and focus the mind.
At the recent Women of the Vine and Spirits conference, we created a “Refresh Lounge” – a quiet room away from the main conference, where filled with reading materials, yoga mats, props and tools to help offer a retreat from the noisiness of the conference. I wanted a space where I could remove myself from the busyness, the constant need to be engaged, and take a breath. With shoes off and digital devices silenced, it offered people a welcome space to switch off, return to their breath, and for a moment, simply observe.
Over three days I saw women arrive stressed, distracted and harried, then within minutes, settle in through a restorative yoga pose, a quiet sit in meditation, or a warm soothing cup of herbal tea. With the cacophony of the voices outside hushed, women remarked that they were able to tune out and drop in to listen to themselves instead of the 100 people surrounding them and leave feeling refreshed.
So establish yourself a retreat space, and no matter how short a time you spend there, with some relaxed breathing, and quiet time, it may be all you need to step away from the harried and busy, to return to remember why we are here.
To live our lives fully and in service, from a place of openness and love.
PS The blog of this series is up over on my website, for your convenience and to revisit at your own pace. Enjoy!