the other day i amused myself by searching for a spa-type retreat that might be nurturing. you know…yoga, beautiful stately home, great food, walks in the woods, maybe a massage. sigh. of course, i found several.
then i looked at the cost…yikes!
i decided to create a retreat in my home, to be undertaken in a few weeks time. no, it’s not a stately home nor are there woods anywhere nearby. there is, however, a lovely park within easy walking distance and the seafront one street away. i can ask a friend who loves healthful cooking to prepare meals for me. i can attend as many yoga classes as i might like. i can ask my favourite yoga teacher to work out a schedule of meditation and practice on the mat. and i know a fabulous massage therapist.
no, it’s not the same. and it’s just fine.
the common definition implies a defeat or a strategic move to better one’s military position. also we find retreat defined as a withdrawal to a secluded or quiet place.
my flat is certainly quiet, though not secluded. and i undertake this retreat not in defeat. rather in joy, self-respect and self-care.
my aspiration is to deepen, to quiet enough inside to look more closely at who i am right now, in each moment. to quiet enough inside to feel the movement of energy, to quiet enough inside to feel the profound emotion that comes with the process of ageing, to quiet enough inside to feel breath and heartbeat.
i know there will be moments of challenge when i would rather be doing almost anything other than being quiet and looking/feeling inside. there will be moments when the computer and the telly beckon to me tantalisingly. there will be moments when my joints ache from sitting in meditation. there will be moments when fear and anxiety might arise. there will be moments when i long to eat an ice cream.
and there will be moments of calm, tranquility, equanimity, and almost unbearable beauty. there will be flashes of insight, deeper understanding and explosive joy when my heart might open.
all of this contained in the exploration of what it means to be a sage-in-training, an elder, a full human.
i invite you to join me in finding a retreat of you own. it could be a moment’s pause in your busy day. it could be the choice to learn a mediation practice or to renew one that has gone stale. it could be a blessing before a meal. it could be a conscious smile offered to a homeless person. it could be a breath. it could be a visit to a stately home for a spa retreat!