My Silent Retreats take many forms. In the midst of busy life, I make a practice of seeking places of quiet for restoration. The Mystic in me needs a lot of nurturing. There are many ways to take quick breaks and reset my mind and mood.
When I can’t travel for hours I have a few tricks up my sleeve to deal with the stress.
At a minimum, I look to Nature ~ to the sky for solace ~ to the clouds for inspiration ~ to the earth for grounding ~ to water sources – the lakes, oceans and streams for refreshment of body and mind. Regular meditation practice deals with monkey-mind. Even a few moments helps. Saying hello to my bird friends who share outdoors spaces can untangle some stresses.
Behind the chaos of fast paced society and entropy of fractured thoughts, there is the inclination toward syntropy, or an inherent inner energy that seeks order deep inside every cell in our body ~ a default setting of sorts. I believe that this inclination is the origin of desire for unwinding and detangling our outer world. Behind any material manifestation is the energetic geometry that supports our sensory world, which is all light and sound… resonance. Most of us like a change of sights and sounds to restore sanity and reconnect with that healthier inner structure.
There are several places that I keep returning to rebuild my resilience. The usual resort areas only get me so far to my goal, unless I can also access nature away from the maddening crowds. Beaches and National parks are wonderful, but planning is necessary to tactically avoid the crowds.
The Southwest and the West Coast top my list of inspirations for easy quick get-aways. The lands of the Hopi, Navajo, Anasazi, & Sinagua stir my soul, as well as East Coast Colonial American history. I seek out convents who offer retreats and temples of various religions who welcome wayfarers. And I read the works of contemplatives, from Thomas Merton to Hafiz. Only a few words can calm my mood and redirect my awareness from reactive to sanguine.
International travel ramps up the vibes more than some are ready for, but well worth the preparations and energy spent. I aspire to Rick Steve’s philosophy that travel changes you for the better if you embrace diversity and savor the differences. But that is a different kind of travel, not designed for quiet. When I go across the pond, I journal as I go, and then process my experiences after I return. I compartmentalize… fully immerse myself in the sensory experiences while in the new and special place… then ‘unpack’ them later by doing more research and reading about the history and meaning of places and cultures I experienced.
Variety is the spice of life, so build your own system. Taylor it to your own interests and personality. Give yourself latitude and flexibility, without self judgement. Self care is a virtue to be cherished, worthy of your energy to plan and savor. Best of all… the party is on the inside!