Question: Dear Luise: You have mentioned retreats in some of your responses to questions and I have a question about what a retreat is and how to use one to best advantage. You have referred to having a small trailer close by that you use for that purpose and I am wondering if it is for resting, socializing or is it a spiritual thing that you do? I often feel that I am just too “occupied”. Work occupies my time and holds my focus…so does my marriage and my outside interests. Entertainment, whether it’s at home reading and watching TV or out and about at a concert or play, often occupies my spare time…when I take the time to make any. I also socialize a lot. I don’t feel overwhelmed with this pattern but I do feel that it sometimes isn’t enough. Or maybe what I am trying to say is the opposite…that it’s too much? I don’t know. The idea of regular retreats intrigues me and I’d like to explore the possibility. Greta
Answer: Dear Greta: It sure sounds like you are ready to put some depth into your life. That’s one way to look at retreats. There are many ways to use the word, as you know, and therefore many kinds of retreats. I tend to see them as expansive.
I take it that you are interested in what I do and why I do it, and maybe what I get out of it in the hopes that you may find a prototype for something you could add to your own life that would expand it in some way. Since you are married, like I am, you will need the support of your spouse to pursue this highly individualized path.
I have a place that I created for myself for retreats simply because I don’t have the financial resources to travel to exotic retreat sites and use costly facilities. I think that would probably be wonderful…but for me it’s just not practical.
First, lets look at the place. My little retreat-house, which I call “Cocoon”, is an old, 27 foot, vintage travel trailer in a camping club. It’s only ten miles from my home in a deep forest. However, the proximity is not as important as finding a quiet and peaceful site. I’m just lucky not to have to spend a lot of driving time to get there.
The use varies. I have gone out there for as long as ten days and focused only on meditation. I have also gone when I was physically weary or grieving so I could rest up and get my energy and balance back. I have taken retreats that have included power-walks for fitness and some have been with my daughter, brainstorming on how she could move through something she felt was blocking her in her life. (I have a tiny “guest-shed” for that purpose.) Some retreats have been to study something I sincerely wanted to know more about or to do a project I’d been putting off, like finishing a photo album.
Most of my retreats incorporate several of the above components. What none of them ever include is a phone, radio or TV. I have a cell for emergencies…but I haven’t had to use it so far. (Knock on wood!)
My suggestion is that you look closely at your needs and resources. Rent spaces to see what works best for you before buying a trailer or cabin. Experiment with different time frames and vary your activities. Your heart will respond and be forever grateful. Blessings, Luise