Everyday Spirituality for the Professional

Part One – The Power of Solo Retreats


By Karin Leonard

This series explores how to integrate spirituality with work and the rest of life.  First, we’ll consider retreats as a way to revitalize, strengthen your sense of purpose and help you be in the world.

Why Go to the Mountain?

Each year, I arrange to do at least two retreats by myself.  “Going to the mountain top” gives me a chance to go deep within.  Being on retreat recharges me at core, clears out the cobwebs, and deepens the connection to my soul.  As the noise of everyday life falls away, a profound silence unfolds.  What a wonderful opportunity to listen to the stirrings of soul and spirit!  From this bird’s eye perspective, you can see, comprehend and evaluate your life.  Or get clear about new directions, dreams or decisions.  Your inner wisdom is profound, when you give it a chance to be heard. 

Too busy to take the time out?  That’s exactly why you might need a retreat….

Where to Go?

The sky’s the limit.  I’ve gone everywhere from designated rooms in our house, to camping in the woods, to monasteries, retreat centers and hotel rooms.  Retreats may last anywhere from a few hours to several months.  Personally, I find solo retreats the most powerful.  If you are going with others, make sure you have at least some space and time by yourself.  When doing a retreat at home, declare the space and time as sacred.  Don’t answer the phone or door or E-mail.  Tell friends and family you are not available.  However, at home, there might just be too many distractions.  If possible, going away allows for a chance to be in surroundings free from ordinary life.  In the Monterey Bay Area, we are blessed with many retreat centers, such as Land of Medicine Buddha in Soquel (831-462-8383), The Vajrayana Foundation in Corralitos (831-761-6266), Tassajara (415-865-1895) and Esalen (831-667-3000).  And, hotel rooms make a fine retreat space.

What to Do On the Mountain?

As little as possible…However, I usually bring a journal, some favorite pens, a cushion and meditation tapes.  Just being with your own rhythm, without having to answer to work or family, is a great gift to yourself.  I recommend sitting still, and just following your breath.  Let the mind clear, and bring yourself back to the breath every time there is a thought.  As you clear the first few layers of the busy everyday mind, your soul has a chance to be heard.  Jot down your thoughts and feelings.  Write to your heart’s content, whatever arrives, from the silly to the sublime.  And don’t worry about it being good writing.  The purpose is to travel closer to your core, and to connect with that “heavenly melody” within.  You may be amazed at what surfaces.

When returning from your retreat, you may feel fantastic and crystal clear.  And possibly sensitized to external input.  Therefore, transition gently, and give yourself a bit of time to re-integrate.  A quiet night at home is a good idea.

In part two we’ll look at building and maintaining your spiritual life in the everyday.


For information:   

Karin Leonard & Associates:  (831) 724-5400  

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E-mail karin@innerevolution.com.



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