The first step in designing a retreat for ourselves is knowing what it is that we want to accomplish. If it’s hard to figure out, it may help to break “us” down into the different aspects of ourselves: body, mind, emotions, spirit. We also need a time and a place. Your own home will work if you can be by yourself. Once I was offered a room in a friend’s house to use. She was there, but was supportive of my need to de-tox, catch up on my rest and spend a lot of time in silence and meditation. I’ve also rented a room for a few days.
Do you know a friend who might want someone to watch their home while they take off for a long weekend, or some period of time? Ask around. You might be surprised at what you can find. If you choose the off-season, you might be able to have a conversation with a bed and breakfast owner who would rather have someone in their room for a very reduced rate, than none at all.
Just as we give our cars a tune-up periodically, a retreat is a good time to give the body some loving attention. Give your body a break as much as possible. That means sleeping when you are tired. Go to bed when you first feel tired and don’t get up till you are really rested. Eat foods that are easily digestible, or make them so. It takes a lot of energy to break down meats and more complex proteins. For this time, concentrate on fruits, veggies and the best water you can find.
n Borrow a blender. Let it do the heavy breaking down of fibers for you. Try mixing some cut up fresh fruit with a few kale leaves, about a tablespoon of chia seeds, a little chunk of tofu and some ice cubes. You won’t taste the kale. Blend it until it is all smooth. Snack on nuts, hummus, guacamole, veggie sticks, and fresh fruit. Except for greens, it is easier on the digestion not to eat fruits and veggies together. If you eat dairy, have some plain organic yogurt sweetened with mashed natural fruit.
nDrink a lot of water with lemon juice. That is good for the liver, and is slightly detoxing. There are also detoxifying teas and supplements that you can get at health food stores, but you may want to check it out with a doctor first. Food as nature intended for us to eat it is pretty safe. Make it easy. You don’t want to spend your precious retreat time preparing food. Since you’re detoxing, try to get organic produce if possible.
nStretching muscles a bit is another way to clean out toxins and it keeps our skeletal system limber. Many folks do yoga.
If you don’t have a yoga mat, use a beach towel on the rug. Don’t push to pain, but feel a good stretch. This teacher ends with a few minutes of relaxation. I would also offer gratitude to each of my body parts. Even if our feet sometimes bother us, they still get us where we want to go. Our hands do the mind’s bidding, and our brain, heart, digestive system all usually do their work for us without much gratitude. So say thanks, and offer a little blessing prayer for them that they keep serving us well.
If the budget allows, schedule a physical massage. It is great for all systems of the body.
Regarding the emotional body: We are happy when our needs are met, and unhappy when they aren’t. Dr. Marshall Rosenberg, the creator of Non-Violent Communication, has created a list of basic emotions that we can experience It is on the web at: http://www.cnvc.org/Training/feelings-inventory. If you are feeling out of sorts, check and see what you are feeling. It helps to get clear about it.
Then go to the list of basic needs that we all have at http://www.cnvc.org/Training/needs-inventory. They are in seven different areas: Connection (encompassing a third of all needs), physical well-being, honesty, play, peace, autonomy and meaning. Get a piece of paper out, and take inventory. What needs aren’t being met? What steps can you take to get them met, and do you need help with some of them. That’s OK too. We aren’t expected to do everything in this world ourselves. KEO offers mediation services to help neighbors, family members, landlords and tenants, etc. help come to agreements. Their number is 245-3077 ex. 237.
At the mental level, you might just want a break from having to think (and often on a deadline) with the logical, analytical left side of your brain. Are you still in touch with the creative, expressive right side as well? Have you noticed that children are so creative up until about adolescence, and then most folks more or less drop it? But drawing images in color is an excellent way to express yourself, and use the right side of your brain.
For a relatively small budget, you can pick up a set of watercolors and watercolor paper. Regular paper warps. I’ve also used pastels. Try both. Don’t judge anything that you do. Look at the colors, and choose the one that is calling you. Drip it, drop it, smear it, rub it, paint a color next to it, fold the paper in half, tear off parts of it. What inspires you in the moment? Follow your intuition. That’s all creative and all good. The Fourth of July is coming up, make fireworks on the page, or blend blues and greens on the paper with a paper towel, and make the ocean. Just have fun. If you like even a piece of your work, you can cut it out, and glue onto another piece of paper to make a personal card for someone. Or bring old magazines and make collages.
Howard Clinebell was a psychological counselor and pastor. In an article on “The New Medicine” website, he believes that humans have seven common spiritual needs. Here are the first two, which would be terrific spiritual goals for a personal retreat:
•“All people need to experience regularly the healing and empowerment of love – from others, self, and an ultimate source/God.
• “Everyone needs to experience renewing times of transcendence – moments that expand us beyond the immediate sensory spheres.”
If we look at the spiritual greats in all religions, they received their inspiration when they were away from others. They believed that their creator would connect with them. It came in the “still small voice,” through the voice of an angel, as a fierce wind, a rainbow of bubbles, images, knowledge of truth, an incredible sense of peace, and knowing. Wouldn’t our creator know how to speak to each of us, so we could grasp it? Isn’t it possible that God is waiting for us to listen?
It might help to bring a book, video, CD, or something that has inspired us before. But the connection comes within us. Just as a bolt of lightning needs a receptive magnetic source, so do we have within our hearts a receptive source that loves our creator and is a magnet for it. We do have to still ourselves, and feel that we are worthy to receive it and that we are lovable. And we are! Happy Fourth of July, and God bless our precious nation!
• Hale Opio Kauai convened a support group of adults in our Kauai community to “step into the corner” for our teens, to answer questions and give support to youth and their families on a wide variety of issues. Please email your questions or concerns facing our youth and families today to Annaleah Atkinson at email@example.com