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