Stepping out of the ordinary to experience a little of the extraordinary has numerous benefits, both personally and professionally. A change of scenery and environment, no family or business obligations, unplugging from the world of electronic devices, time for deep reflection and renewal of mind, body and spirit is simply luxurious.
This is a gift you can give to yourself, perhaps with some encouragement and support from others. It can be close or far away. What is important is that the conditions are optimum for the best results with the least number of distractions from the focus and purpose of the experience. It can be done solo or with a small group of like-minded individuals.
My most recent “retreat” was in Colorado Springs in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains and although my residence is similar, at 7000 feet in beautiful northern New Mexico, a different and unfamiliar locale gave me a sense of something entirely new, and open for discovery. That in itself set the stage and provided the context for the experience. Here are my seven dividends from the investment of three days away.
1 – Time to read and think about a topic in some depth.
2 – Restful and relaxing accommodations in a comfortable, beautiful setting.
3 – Simple, nutritious and tasty meals.
4 – Physical exercise via walking (or cycling).
5 – Mindful meditation in stillness or via a labyrinth.
6 – Exploration of future possibilities without commentary.
7 – Deep gratitude for the opportunities afforded.
Most of these benefits can be achieved wherever you are. However, you have to commit to making them part of your daily or weekly routine; otherwise, work, people and worldly distractions will consume your time, attention and energy. In the retreat setting there was no urgency to get on to the next thing whatever it might be. As Pico Iyer put it, “In an age of acceleration, nothing can be more exhilarating than going slow.”
For me, it was a kind of Spring housecleaning – mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually – and some rearranging of my own priorities. If you’re in the southern hemisphere, it could be a Fall housecleaning. It is not about where you are geographically but where you are at this particular time in your life. And the truth is that most of us are in a transition of some kind or another in our work, our families and in the world around us. Give yourself the gift of a personal retreat and put those three days away on your calendar now. Go ahead, it’s easier than you might think.