Sentlhane Retreats
How to Retreat

How to Retreat : 3 Easy Steps Back to Your Soul

Many people in our society work themselves to the breaking point, and then they seek an escape from their stressful lives. This escape is usually in the form of a vacation. However, they often spend most of their getaway feeling just as stressed as when they were working. The only benefit seems to be the addition of pleasant memories that serve as a virtual means of escape until the next vacation.

On the path of spiritual practice, retreat does not mean running away. Rather, a retreat is a strategic withdrawal with the intent to return stronger. By stepping away from the world we have worked so hard to create, we free ourselves from the attachments that can bind us in misery. We step into retreat knowing we will eventually return, yet we do not know exactly who we will be when we get back. That is part of the mystery of self-discovery.

While we are working in the world, we use our mindfulness practice to stay centered in the present moment and remain aware of how we are doing on all levels. This allows us to plan our step back consciously and lets us avoid losing all perspective in what can quickly become a life and death struggle.

By following these three steps, each one working in concert with the others, you find can your way back to the center of your soul.

1. Withdraw and Relax

The first part of any successful retreat is relaxation. We must be willing to detach from the world, from all of our struggles on the playing field, and from everything that defines us. There's an assumption this happens automatically, hence the popularity of vacation. However, you've probably already noticed how when you step away from work and the struggles of daily life, they stay with you in your mind.

When we plan a retreat, we factor in time to allow both the body and mind to relax. Part of this time is spent tying up loose ends before leaving; this is the strategic withdrawal. For example, making sure the bills are paid, putting up an out-of-town notice on your email, and having clean clothes in your closet ready for your return to work. Once you've arrived at your retreat destination, consciously let go of everything, trusting that your preparations will hold all the aspects of your life together while you are away. Take as long as you need to relax and enjoy your new surroundings. Relaxation purifies our being, creating a sense of inner detachment that allows us to see the path before us with clarity.

2. Rejuvenate

Once you've relaxed, rejuvenation is possible. For many people, this is the favorite part of a retreat, and they try to jump right into new experiences. Relaxing creates a space for those new experiences to be explored without the stress of the past getting in the way. Others get stuck in the relaxation phase. Instead of stopping with the clearing away, we can fill ourselves with energy by embracing all the present moment has to offer. On a retreat, we may visit new places, meet new people, push ourselves into higher brighter mind states through meditation - or do all of the above. Part of the fun of retreat is figuring out what will provide a sense of renewal, right now. Rejuvenation rebuilds our being from the inside, creating a sense of excitement about life and our place within it.

3. Reconnect

Rejuvenation gives us the energy required to reconnect with our highest, deepest Self. While living and working in the world, it's easy to lose our way and become bogged down by material concerns. We start looking outward and attempt to fix the world, forgetting that all we experience is a reflection of our inner being. Our perception as a separate individual tricks us into thinking we are alone, and the world rests solely upon our shoulders. That weight can cause us to doubt ourselves and make us feel as if we can accomplish nothing. The first two steps of relaxation and rejuvenation clear and energize us so we can find our way home to the center of our soul, where we are fulfilled. By communing with Spirit, God, Source, or whatever your Word of the day is, we remember what we are: pure Light. Reconnection with this wisdom provides us with the strength to return to our work in the world. This is what retreat is all about: the letting go of the old so the new can blossom.

For those of us serious about our spiritual practice, making time to retreat is not an option, it's a necessity. Even when we cannot disappear for several days, we can still create a retreat whenever the need arises. All we need to do is remember these easy steps - Relaxation, Rejuvenation, Reconnection - and carve out time to step away and experience all three. We may be gone for only a few minutes or an hour, but a conscious retreat can make all the difference in both our inner and outer life.

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