Retreat Time

“It is essential sometimes to go into retreat, to stop everything that you have been doing, to stop your experiences completely and look at them anew, not keep on repeating them like machines. You would then let fresh air into your mind. Wouldn’t you? This place must be of great beauty with trees, birds, and quietness, for beauty is truth and truth is goodness and love.” …..Krishnamurti

Ahhhhh….. The word retreat arouses calming thoughts and feelings of silence, peacefulness, serene quiet time in nature, inner joy. We all need some quiet retreat time in our lives. Sometimes it is simply a day off, an hour off, one evening off from the seemingly endless to do list of modern life. Sometimes it is taking a Sabbath day and just being. Sometimes it is even just a moment of awareness. Other times we may choose to create a longer period to reflect, contemplate, ponder, or simply let go and quiet the mind completely. During summer months many take weekend retreats at a stunning array of retreat centers available throughout the world nestled in the natural beauty of nature, whether by an ocean, in the mountains, the desert or a combination thereof. It seems that just being quiet in nature surrounded by wildlife is a salve to the soul.

Some beings even choose to take longer retreats, one week or one month long meditation retreats such as in vippassana silent retreats. Other take Christian based, Jewish based, Sufi based, Hindu or Buddhist quiet meditative, contemplative retreats. The commonality is that they are usually in beautiful, quiet natural settings with wildlife, simple natural meals, and either guided or self-guided quiet time. It is wonderful to not have to think about where or what you will do for each meal or where you will stay each night as that is all taken care of. It is amazing how quieting it is to the mind to just decrease those simple number of decisions one has to make each day.

At other times in one’s life it is even more beneficial to take a sabbatical. I think it is so wise to take a sabbatical sometime in your life. I think the university concept of a sabbatical year once every seven years makes so much sense to rekindle creativity in the mind. I am just completing a partial sabbatical in my life. I took a few months away from my normal routines, quiet time in nature to reflect on the past, contemplate the future and most importantly, be in the present moment. I created space to shift from the human doing into the human being, as I sometimes joke.

Sometimes I was so busy that I felt my soul was screaming at me to create some quiet time in my life. One well known workshop facilitator, Christina Feldman states “Busyness becomes a defense against being still and listening to the cries of the world and the cries of your own heart. The characters in Chinese for ‘busyness’ translate as “heart killing.” You might see in your own life how busyness is an antidote for feeling deeply.” I certainly experienced this.

At the time that I was completing my veterinary training at Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine, it was almost understood that completing that degree meant a commitment to a life of being on call for emergency each evening and weekend after the normal work week. I did that for over ten years. One colleague once commented “took a day off, must be nice….whimp”.

That was the general attitude. I used to joke when I was teaching veterinary acupuncture and traditional chinese veterinary medicine that it was all about balance and that one teaches what one most needs to learn. My journey was learning how to re-integrate balance into my life. One can do that in each moment, or sometimes one needs to take some retreat time to reflect and re-create. I needed all of it.
As we progress into this summer, ask yourself, do I need some retreat time in nature and with wildlife? If so, how do I create this?
How do you create retreat time in your life? What does retreat time even look and feel like to me? Please share your most special retreat moments, whether they were for a second or a year! Enjoy!

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